Joy is Our Birthright: Reflections on Community in the Time of Conflict Series

I am a student of culture. Headlines, sound bytes, moments in time are important and interesting. But culture needs a wider lens. Culture happens in real-time but is only understood over time. 

When I was 12, my mother sent me to live with my father. She was working three jobs and had 3 other children. I was skipping school and spending time with other kids whose lives were much more free than what she wanted for me. She understood, as parents do, that the outer boundaries of our lives’ potential are often limited to the people and experiences we are surrounded by. Leaving my friends felt overwhelming and unjust; I couldn’t imagine a different world for myself. All these years later I know that her decision changed my life’s trajectory, all for the better. I don’t think she “knew” what my future would be, but knew she needed to act–despite the short-term strain on our relationship. That’s what a parent’s love does–they make hard choices in the service of their children. 

What we are experiencing now, in our workplaces and the world more broadly, calls for comfort, stamina, and understanding.

Zoom in: We have cultural experiences real-time. We have relationship ups and downs, decisions we make or others make impact our lives, and we change our minds and hearts as we navigate varying spaces. 

Zoom out: We feel the impact of every relationship, the choices we make to nurture or abandon them. The argument we handled with grace or with hate-filled words stays with us in one way or another. Small decisions, sometimes made on a whim or not with full empathy, occasionally expand to affect us in ways we could have never imagined. 

Cultural awareness and competency mean that we are always zooming in and out. No act is small or inconsequential. It requires taking time to: 

  1. Refill our own cups so that we can pour into others is not a small act. It is strategic. It enables the bigger picture–healthy relationships. 
  2. Communicate with a vision about where we are going, what we want to become together so that we are–all of us–anchoring our energy to something that is positive. This pulls us away from fear and hate-mongering. It feeds our human need to create.
  3. Connect with others who bring healthy engagement and generosity to our group settings. This creates virtuous cycles; the powerful opposite of the vicious cycles that often consume so much of our mental and emotional energy. 
  4. Learn new concepts and tools that equip us to contribute competently and lead. Leadership takes new forms over time and in different spaces. It also requires preparation, championing, and confidence-building. 

Over the past months we have wrestled, in some spaces getting quieter or feeling silenced, in others responding with thunderous voices. Yet here we are, still unsatisfied. Some piece of every one of us is harmed when pain is experienced, including the pain caused by isolation, lack of trust and the absence of a care-filled space with others. 

Since the fall, time and again, understanding and a path forward has come out of creating space. Thankfully, the hundreds of people who gathered together in our recent 3-part series, Community in a Time of Conflict, knew how important it is to take control of our energy, relationships, skill development, and narrative. Each time we were together culminated in deep reflection, connection, and shared appreciation.


My greatest takeaway from our sessions is this: joy is our birthright. Now is the moment for small, important, strategic acts. Make a choice. Show up. Champion others. These choices, zoom out, are the foundation of our future cultural narrative. These are the moments we will look back on and reflect, with pride or disappointment, on how we chose to show up when called to act. These moments will continue to fill our cups.

Our community lives on, in CultureRoad. CultureRoad is a community of practice for your organization, your team, for you. It’s an always-on destination for easily accessible curriculum, coaching, and connection to others. You will have access to:

  • Facilitated community space that allows any time virtual collaboration and ideas sharing, this includes a variety of topical interest groups for deep-dive learning and engagement. 
  • A comprehensive library of short video-based courses, job aids, checklists, performance nudges.
  • Information on topics like inclusive management, wellbeing, or coaching.
  • Live access to amazing and deeply skilled facilitators and coaches. These are real humans who help you work through the real-world, real-time issues that you need support on.
  • An engaging technology platform, including our CultureRoad app. 

Looking back on the decisions my mother made, and now with me as a mother, I am now blessed with the gift of perspective. We hope to bring care and consideration to our relationships, but that is far from the everyday reality. We want and espouse trust, but at the moment our actions may not convey our true and honorable intentions in the way we would hope. For the occasional–and human–gaps between the here-and-now and what we are trying to become, we need a caring space to learn, grow and connect with like minded others.    

I would love to continue our beautiful connection and build together the workplaces and world that we want to live in. Learn more about CultureRoad here, and contact us for more information about how your entire team or organization can be part of this growing, connected and thriving community. 

With love, 



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DeEtta Jones & Associates (DJA) guides leaders and organizations on a journey that builds capacity, strengthens innovation, and increases organizational performance by creating a more equitable, diverse, and inclusive environment.

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