Many of our libraries have diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiatives. I counted five sessions at the 2018 OLA Annual Conference that were related to the DEI work Oregon libraries are doing. We are at different places in our learning and growth around DEI. Wherever you are at in your DEI learning, I hope you will watch this video and think critically about the main points no matter how uncomfortable it may feel.
How to let go of being a “good” person—and become a better Person
Dolly Chugh at TED@BCG
Here are a few things from the video I want to remember:
- “Bounded rationality is the Nobel Prize-winning idea that the human mind has limited storage resources, limited processing power, and as a result, it relies on shortcuts to do a lot of its work.”
- “At any given moment, 11 million pieces of information are coming into your mind. And only 40 of them are being processed consciously.”
- When we make mistakes that threaten our attachment to being a good person, like mistakes that hurt other people or promote injustice despite our intentions, we explain them away rather than learning from them.
- These types of mistakes make us fight for our good person identity. Whereas other types of mistakes, like in accounting or parenting, make us seek out help from others, training, and books and articles so we can learn from our mistakes and improve.
- Most of the time no one calls us out on these kinds of mistakes. Most of the time no one challenges our good person identity. This means we don’t think much about the ethical implications of those mistakes and we spiral towards less and less ethical behavior.
- When someone notices us make these kinds of mistakes and points it out or asks us about it, it feels like they are challenging our good person identity. In these cases we have to think about the implications of our mistake and we begin to spiral towards more and more ethical behavior.
- “We have this definition of good person that’s either-or. Either you are a good person or you’re not. Either you have integrity or you don’t. Either you are a racist or a sexist or a homophobe or you’re not. And in this either-or definition, there’s no room to grow.”
Here are a few of the questions I am thinking about:
- How can I practice finding my mistakes when people don’t call me out on them?
- How am I going to work through the instinct to fight for my good person identity so my response doesn’t end there… so I can identify my mistake and start the work to learn from it?
- How am I going to invite colleagues to call me out? If you notice a DEI mistake in this blog, please provide constructive feedback. We are at different places in our DEI learning and growth, and you may be ahead of me. If so, share some of your resources please!
- How am I going to deal with the discomfort and embarrassment the next time someone calls out my mistakes so I can learn and improve?
- What am I going to do next time I notice a colleague make a DEI mistake? If I address it, can I help them work through the instinct to fight for their good person identity and deal with the discomfort and embarrassment to foster learning instead of defensiveness?
- Circling back to a previous post about being good enough, how do we library professionals support each other in being good-ish and good enough? How do we help each other through our mistakes, acknowledging that they have “real costs to real people,” in a way that fosters growth and improvement without feeding into the perfectionist tendencies many of us have? If we wait to implement DEI initiatives until we think we have the perfect plan, we will never do it and we’ve already waited too long to address institutional and historic racism in public libraries.