Americas Identity Crisis Has Revealed Its Injustice To The World – Forbes

Posted By on June 6, 2020

NEW YORK CITY - OCTOBER 24 2015: More than one thousand activists marched on behalf of the families ... [+] of victims of alleged police brutality in RiseUpOctober. Photo Credit:

Pain and anguish is on full display around the country and around the world after the horrific murder of George Floyd and so many others and this moment of outrage feels both necessary and inevitable.

These are the dangerous consequences of an identity crisis, created and perpetuated by design.

Much of the discussion around racial tensions focuses on politics and policing rightly so.

But theres another element, another part of our lives that has been stripping away our identity and our dignity for decades: work.

The identity crisis we have today is the natural result of a deliberate strategy to standardize people into becoming efficiency machines workers who are allowed to experience only enough success to keep them happy staying in the lane assigned to them.

People at the top define the lane, identify the narrow credentials that will allow people to enter the lane, and guard access to those narrow credentials to keep people competing with each other for those scarce points of access.

Its a deliberate strategy employed by large institutions and their leaders. A strategy that defined how certain people should be perceived and valued based on ones socio-economic status, academic credential, professional pedigree, and overall contribution to society.

Those at the top perform diversity by labeling people and showing diverse rosters on paper, while not allowing any of that individuality to permeate the business. This ensures tribalism because it limits individual contribution, silences voices and restrains ones ability to disrupt the status quo.

Ordinary people have been playing the game for so long that theyve lost touch with who they are in the process and how they could be individually contributing to the enterprises success. And theyre learning now that the game has been rigged against them all along. They sacrificed their identities because that was how to get ahead or even just to survive at their organizations, with the hope that one day theyll be able to contribute at their full capacity.

Contributing to something at our fullest capacity is what gives us dignity. No matter our title, our education, our training if someone recognizes what were capable of as an individual, and we feel like we have a real chance to achieve what were capable of, thats when we feel like our dignity has been honored. Just as important: thats when were able to honor the dignity in others.

But when weve been subjected to a system designed to deny us that dignity, not only do we feel despair for ourselves but its much harder to see and honor the individual dignity in someone else. The system has trained us to see others as competition and to see our work and our lives as a zero sum game: if you win, I lose.

The identity crisis strategy was designed to ensure that people play to not lose, rather than play to win because playing to win would instill a level of self-confidence that would open our eyes to fight back against the narrow lane assignments and lack of individuality. Playing to not lose keeps people focused on stopping others from taking what they see as rightfully theirs, rather than people rooting for each other and lifting each other up.

The only way to change that is to change the system.

The horrific murder of George Floyd has awakened people the world over whose individuality has been taken away from them, people who were victims of the identity crisis strategy. With yet another flawed outdated system that was produced by old-school, efficiency-based, standardized thinking leaders Mr. Floyds murder reveals not only the dangers and injustices of the identity crisis, but also the failed leadership and lack of human dignity in society.

What we are now experiencing are the tensions that exist between the age of standardization and the age of personalization. Tensions that have multiplied every time the identity crisis strategy works. Unfortunately, its been working for years. The crisis is so powerful, and it has escalated to levels unimaginable. This is why its designers just sit back and say nothing during the protests. They believe that after a few days, it will all go away. And for the most part, theyve historically been right.

Restore Dignity

Its time to dismantle the system that perpetuates this identity crisis and restore dignity at scale.

Why? Because were not only putting Americas future in jeopardy, were weakening humanity.

Millennials and Gen Z represent our future leaders and innovators. They are the ones that will redefine the world. Yet they also represent the most culturally and ethnically diverse populations and generations ever. They are the leaders of the Cultural Demographic Shift (CDS), a term I coined for when large cultural segments of the population reach numbers sufficient enough to have a significant effect on what we do and how we act.

The identity crisis made it difficult to embrace inclusion. Its hard to create a system of inclusion where every individual can feel welcomed, seen, valued and respected especially when large institutions have incentivized their leaders to ensure this doesnt happen.

Inclusion is not about celebrating Black History Month, Hispanic Heritage Month, National Womens History Month, Asian Pacific American Heritage, Jewish American Heritage Month, etc. Inclusion happens when we stop judging people for how they look, think and act and start taking the time to see and know who people are as humans. Inclusion happens when we begin to embrace dignity at scale.

You cant expect people to change their mindset, attitude and behavior if the outdated systems and policies remain the same.

So whats next?

1. When we turn diversity into inclusion, we stop being tribal and start seeing each other as human.

Inclusion is a system for making sure the organization is welcoming at every level to every individual. Individuality is a concerted effort to know and account for the realities and the values of individual employees and customers.

Leaders love to tout their commitment to diversity, even as they continue to hire and promote people who demonstrate the thoughts that have already been deemed worthy. In other words, they say they want diversity of thought and then they hire for conformity of thought.

2. When we shift focus from brand identity to individual identities, we invigorate our shared missions by elevating individual contribution.

Theres nothing less dignified than putting the interests of a brand or company over the interests of the individuals whose blood, sweat and tears make that company great.

What is most meaningful to people is to know they have a chance to contribute their unique skills and strengths no matter the mission. And you need them to do just that. No matter what youre trying to achieve, you need people at their fullest capacities connecting with and elevating each other as they individually and collectively contribute to a shared mission.

3. When our individual capacity is stifled, we stagnate. But when we loosen our grip on results and activate methods for leading in a way that honors our Age of Personalization, we become healthy.

When you let people break free from the standards of the past and attack challenges in their own way, you open up new possibilities. You give people their dignity back. You restore and honor their identities.

Heres why I ask that last question.

If youre one of the people who has had their identity erased for years, I hope youre feeling seen in the best way. I know your pain, because its happened to me. I know your pain, because youre not alone. Ive assessed thousands of mid and top leaders over 12 years, and personally worked with hundreds. Believe me, you are not alone.

If youre one of the people who has been erasing peoples identity for years (perhaps without knowing it), I hope youre also feeling seen. And by that I mean I hope you know we see what youre doing. You might be doing it because it was done to you. You might be doing it because you benefit from a system that creates an identity crisis.

More likely, youre doing it because thats simply how the system functions and youve never really thought about it before. Start thinking about it now.

Do we allow the identity crisis strategy to control the narrative and approach of how law enforcement, government and big business react to the protesters, rioting, looting?If we do, nothing will change.

And if nothing changes, America is in trouble.

Our society feels like its breaking down. Lets make it our chance to break through.

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Americas Identity Crisis Has Revealed Its Injustice To The World - Forbes

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