How do we navigate the coming week?

How, as heart-forward women leaders, do we navigate the coming week?

Next week the United States will observe Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday and inaugurate Donald Trump as its 45th President. The day after, I’ll be marching shoulder to shoulder with an estimated 400,000 women, men and children in the Women’s March on Washington.

As I look to next week, my mind returns to a question a dear friend posed to me last week:

“How, as heart-forward women leaders, do we navigate the coming week and hold the values of social and environmental justice with the principle of nondiscrimination that Martin Luther King, Jr. taught us so well?”

My answer is that we must stand for what we believe in, and do so with open hearts. But today, I’m sitting with the question of how I can simultaneously keep a focused mind on what I believe in and an open heart to hear those voices of difference.

We all want personal safety and happiness. All people desire a flourishing nation and healthy planet. But we have very different views on how to achieve these goals.

Approaching different views with curiosity and openness has so much more possibility than insistently pitching our perspective to them or simply opposing their views.

Can we listen to other people’s speech without belittling it or losing hope in that person?

Can we see the person behind the ideas, even if their speech is contrary to ours?

Can we listen to what is really being said, and identify the common elements upon which we all can agree, without being emotionally triggered?

Can we find ways to see and listen to the “little child” that is at everyone’s core?

Honestly, at times, these practices are difficult for me.

These questions are at the foundation of leading with an open heart. With answers, I know that we will find ways to better understand those different than us, or at a minimum try to establish a common bond of familiarity or even perhaps friendship, which can ultimately create a promising future for all.

Next week will be inspiring at times and challenging at others. Personally, I have a lot to learn about how to be in this place of open-heartedness and respect of difference. But I will be there in the company of friends, who I can learn from. What about you?

Please share your answers and experiences of these important questions here.

Whether you’re marching, attending in spirit, or choosing another way to honor what’s in your heart, we all have much to learn from each other in the days ahead.

After all, we are stronger together than alone.