Photo source: The Guardian

My grandmother used the expression”hell in a hand basket” when it felt like everything was careening wildly out of control, when despair and danger were pounding at the door to be let in. It seems an apt phrase for the events of the first week of January 2021.

This blog isn’t structured or ordered, nor is it planned to come up with the “top 3 tips or insights” so you can take the chaos of where we are and life hack yourself into meaning or action. I don’t think anything like what we have experienced in the world in the…

My work is in the public arena, in the space between people. That means I spend a lot of time feeling the impacts of polarization, disconnection, fear, anger and distrust. In the last few years it has become palpable; so much so that I’ve called this time “a time of outrage.” In 2020, we layered the emotional, financial and social impacts of a global pandemic over top of it like icing on a cake. It’s not just the virus that is contagious, it is the emotion surrounding the virus that is also spreading, further infecting the polarized space between people.

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I believe that brave, honest conversations are how we solve the problems in our lives, organizations and communities. These hardest of conversations create a path to strengthened relationships, increased connection, improved trust and deeper understanding. When those things are in place, you can solve any problem.

Fundamental to any brave, honest conversation is a practice of deep inclusion — for the people and also the perspectives that may arise in the course of the discussion. The dictionary definition of inclusion refers to an action or state of being included in a group or structure. In my work I extend that…

Photo credit: Photo by Estée Janssens on Unsplash

I’ve got failure on my mind. The word is circling in the air around me, encouraging me to lean in and listen deeply while it whispers sweet nothings. I’m working on a conference program committee and we identified “failure makes us better” as a theme for conference submissions. I’ve got a colleague who is leading a webinar this month about failure. …

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The word LOVE keeps coming up in my workshops, trainings and sessions. People use the word with exuberance, commitment and also with hesitation, uncertainty and discomfort.

It seems to me that we’ve been socialized to think that talking about love in a work setting or situation is inappropriate or taboo. We have been taught that love is a thing to be kept hidden, in private, just between you and me. Our norms tell us that love doesn’t exist at work, in our neighbourhoods or communities, or for strangers in the public arena. …

A Socratic Circle: creating space to talk about what matters most

I’ve been leading lots of sessions the last few months — and in so many of them there is this magical moment where it seems suddenly the conversation shifts from individual needs to collective possibility. I’ve stepped back to reflect on what might be happening to enable the depth of collaboration that is created and come up with a couple of ingredients that need to be present to go into the recipe. (Note: The November/December 2019 edition of the Harvard Business Review has an article entitled “Cracking the Code of Sustained Collaboration”.

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Recently I turned on the television and came across a documentary entitled “You are Here: A Come From Away Story”. I spent an hour on the couch both laughing with joy and crying tears from being moved deeply. The documentary tells the story of planes being diverted to Gander, Newfoundland as a result of terrorist attacks on September 11th, 2001. Almost 7,000 people ended up hosted in small, rural communities, full of people who opened their doors and their hearts to the plane loads of “come from aways.” Lifelong friendships, romances and touching moments took place in a week when…

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What differentiates a great leader from a bad one? What character traits or behaviours inspire followers and create lasting change? What kind of leadership builds a world that improves people’s lives?

I often say that the world needs a new kind of leader who shows up, takes a stand and changes the world for the better. I always say that it starts with you. But what does that leader actually look like? How do they behave? What do they believe? What actions and choices do they make?

There are countless examples of leadership around us every day. Those examples can…

A “burning” question from a workshop participant.

Can you be yourself at work? Can you authentically interact with others in the public arena? Do you need to stay in character to have tough conversations with stakeholders?

I am asked a variation on these questions regularly in my work in brave, honest conversations. More than anything I think it speaks to how disconnected people have become from their emotions, and how we have normalized systems and processes where the “human” factor is taken out of things, prioritizing logic and “neutrality” over authenticity, feeling or connection.

My resounding answer to “Is it OK to be human?” is YES!


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I’ve been doing a series of video interviews for an event called Gather that I’m hosting — all about brave, honest conversations. In reflecting on what people are telling me when I ask them about brave, honest conversations I’m struck that at our core we are all seeking connection. That is why we come together — in friendships, families, community. To be connected.

Its easy to get lost in our busy lives and our to do lists, goals and some days just getting through the day — but there is so much more. If you peel away the layers and…

Steph Roy McCallum

Leadership coach I Trainer I Master Facilitator. Brave honest conversations solve the problems in our world. Courageous Leadership Project at

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