While it looked different, Design Your Destiny Live event was held in-person twice in Phoenix, AZ and once in Raleigh, NC this year.  

Having consistency at all three events allowed me to breathe easier. Marnie Cooley, our AV whiz, Holly Williams body worker extraordinaire, my husband Jim – and success coach and emotional resilience expert, Suzanne Dudley-Schon created a magical safe space at every event.  

Suzanne understands that the beingness of leadership matters more than the doingness of leadership. You can take all of the tactical leadership actions that generate success and not be a leader worth following.  

This week, she’s written about bridging the divide, her personal musings from Design Your Destiny Live.    

Happy Reading!  

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Design Your Destiny Live, the annual event created by Lisa Marie Platske and her company Upside Thinking, is a year’s worth of information and transformation packed into three days. For many years it has been my privilege to go and be part of it, and in different capacities, from audience member to panelist to emcee to partner in support.  

Each year I’ve watched a roomful of people sparked with renewed hope walk away with the business equivalent of good soil, seeds, and sunshine to apply going forward. Practical information, business insights, tools, deep inquiry to provoke new growth, and the chance to connect with other professionals.  

This year, like so much else in the past 12 months, Design Your Destiny Live was different. I can hear you asking, “A live event this year? This year?” During a pandemic. Yes. Three live events. Very small gatherings, with a retreat format and feel.   

When people come together in person there is a kind of chemistry experiment going on. Different voices, ideas, perspectives, energies, histories, and bodies mixing and sharing a common space. And, in this case, a common space and an event focused on designing one’s life … during an uncommon time.   

There’s always been great diversity among the attendees of Design Your Destiny Live. However, it’s never been preceded by a year like this when the covers have been pulled back to reveal systemic racism in our world as never before. We’ve all been flung on tides of emotions. We’ve been fed falsehoods meant to ply our minds into partisanship and fear-based assessments. Driven by algorithms, twitter tribes, facebook groups, and “insta”-bandwagons there’s “belonging” without true connection. All these things can untether us from truth. Inner truth and larger Truth.    

Whatever room you walk into this year— chances are awareness is up. Pain is up. “Us and Them-ness” is up.  

From the first years Lisa Marie held Design Your Destiny Live, she created a set of rules and commitments. Everyone promises to abide by them. These agreements ensure safety, and set a foundation for understanding, trust, responsibility, and respect for self and others. The event room is a safe space where people can delve into work that they might otherwise resist doing.   

Because the events were open to a much smaller number of attendees, I could see more keenly what transpired for each participant and the dynamics among them. For both the second and third events this year, half of the women were white, half were women of color. On the first day, I watched them take each other in: watchful, tentative, curious. Mostly, I sensed willingness. Willingness to remain open. After all, these people signed up during a pandemic, wanting to take conscientious and constructive action in their lives. To me, this certainly belies a starting point of courage and receptivity.   

They got the infusion of strategies and information. Plenty of a-ha moments lit the room. Deep questions and exercises clarified purpose and commitments. Participants identified the gap between their current situations and their goals. They also saw the divisions in themselves. How did their principles and values align with their missions and their choices? Had they compromised themselves and their integrity? Was forgiveness needed in order to move forward? Did they need to make adjustments to course correct? As each person would reveal a little piece of their challenges, their hardships, their vision… their vulnerable shares met the warmth of the group. Icy blocks within melted. I witnessed each of them settle into themselves, lustrous, and perfectly imperfect.   

In doing their own work, sharing their thoughts, feelings, aspirations, and challenges, the attendees saw each other newly. Felt each other newly. Instead of differences, they could find themselves in each other. Similarity at a core level. In making space in their own hearts for themselves, they found room for others. They could empathize with the heavy burdens and histories of one another. In celebrating their unique selves and gifts, “the separateness” gave way to oneness and soul kinship.

By the final day, they’d exchanged contact information, hugged, looked into each other’s eyes and called each other sisters as they said goodbye.  

In focusing on the work we are called to do to develop ourselves, we go deeper than surface assessments, beyond judgements and misunderstandings, beyond demographics, beyond what has been passed down through generations. We create possibilities and bridge the divides that keep us from our own divinity and from each other. We are not alone.  

I trust that from Design Your Destiny Live, 2021, the germination of compassion, mutual respect, support, and love will go on to bear many other fruits and seeds.  

ACTION:  The Upside Challenge of the week is to focus internally to take responsibility in a new way.  

Share what you discover with someone else.  

Notice the similarities.  

What can you learn? How can it inform your thoughts, energy, and actions?    

As Lisa Marie says, the world needs you and your brilliance. 

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