On BIF2017 and giving a shit

Lois Kelly
Sep 15, 2017 · 3 min read
Photo by Stephanie Ewens

My big takeaway from the #bif2017 annual innovation conference is this: Look at what you really give a shit about and then go do something about it.

This is the best way to feel fully alive and leave the world a better place. Nothing changes when we sit on the sidelines. Or worse, it does change, but not how we want.

More people starve from poverty. (Mark Brand MB Inc.)

Teachers check out. (Talia Milgrom-Elcott)

People with cardiac issues don’t check back in with their doctors. (@MGHHeartHealth)

Crazy, narcissistic, self-serving billionaires get into office. (Alan Webber)

Systems of inequities and injustices oppress and kill people, bodily and/or in spirit. (@taliqtillman, Antionette D. Carroll, @tenygross)

Complacency and apathy create danger.

Oh, but when we “accept the offer” of what life dishes out (Carl Størmer),

recognize that we can’t go back to what was (Angela Blanchard),

free the talented blue lobster people (Deb Mills-Scofield),

realize we are enough (@taliqtillman),

we can move mountains.

Especially when we get clear on what we fiercely care about.

When it comes to getting clear, the “give a shit” litmus test is a much better decision filter to me than the soft, passive words like purpose, passion, personal brand (gag).

Language is powerful. It can oppress, judge, bore, shake us awake and kick our asses.

A Fortune 50 client today asked me to help her articulate a clearer purpose for her organization. Emboldened by BIF2017, I asked what she and her colleagues really “give a shit about” beyond the polished brand narrative. Now we were talking, for fu*k’s sake.

As an aside, if you’re someone who is offended by swearwords or think it’s lazy to use them, I urge you to read “Holy Sh*t: A Brief History of Swearing” by Melissa Mohr.

People swear about what they care about. As Carmen A. Medina said, some people deserve to be called assholes. And sometimes those assholes can open doors for you if you’re looking forward.

“Swearwords are the most powerful words we have with which to express extreme emotion, whether negative or positive…we need irreproachably formal and unassailably decent speech, but we also need the dirty, the vulgar, the wonderful obscenities and oaths that can do for us what no other words can.”

I give a shit about helping people be heard.

Helping people to challenge the status quo and advocate for positive change in their organizations? Well sure, that’s part of it, but those words don’t mobilize anyone, including me.

In today’s world we have to stop the yak, yak, yakking and do something. No more waiting around for the proverbial “them” to save us.

In his story about courageous conversations Courtlandt Butts (@CC_AboutRace) talked about how he was ridiculed about his name in school. When he looked up his name’s meaning he learned that it is “messenger from the island.”

“You will live up to your name as it’s in the stars,” he shared.

Today I looked up mine and found it means “Better Warrior.” No wonder I so love the Rebels at Work tribe — and judicious swearing.

Following Angela Blanchard’s wise counsel I will continue to help people do the right thing, not the rule thing.

And I will honor grief and gratitude, forgiving the past so that we may all go dancing.

Who knows, maybe Philip Sheppard (@PhilipSheppard) will be playing his cello.

Rebels at work at #BIF2017: Celine Schillinger, Dany DeGrave, Lois Kelly, Carmen A. Medina

Lois Kelly

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Working at growing wiser, wilder, kinder. Author of new novella, “Fallen Angel Rehab.”