Shortly before the end of the 2016-17 school year, I chaperoned my youngest son's fifth-grade field trip to Camp Potawotami.
Each chaperone was assigned a group of five or six kids, tasked with managing them, if you will, and, ultimately, with making sure they were supported.
After a couple of spider sightings, one flipped canoe formerly carrying my son, and several lost GaGa Ball games to highly competitive 11-year-olds, it's now official – camp and I are not friends. I digress.
Over the course of the two days there, I found myself often saying “who's missing?” Sure, I needed to make sure that I physically had all of the kids assigned to me.
But I also posed the question to ensure that each of the kids under my watch took advantage of the many opportunities offered by this camp experience. Some were reticent to engage in certain activities because they had no prior exposure. Thus, they feared the thoughts of others and those of their own suggesting that perhaps they just did not belong.
I was determined to make sure that none of the kids on Team Rosemond missed out on the moment.
Roughly five or so years ago, I founded a leadership and personal development platform called “REIGN.” This “who's missing?” query that served me during my camp experience and helped me galvanize my group, I think, gets to the heart of my passion in this regard and appropriately captures what I want you to glean.
You see, I created my REIGN platform because for longer than I like to admit, I had no idea who I was; I certainly presented with this diminished consciousness at the beginning of my professional journey some 22 years ago. I knew my “what” – to be a practicing attorney. But my “why” (i.e., the reason and value of a Dawn Rosemond – then a Dawn Westfield – walking around on this earth) totally eluded me.
Real talk: I never really endeavored to do the heavy lifting. Accordingly, I presented at every turn open and susceptible to someone else's version of success for me. While such can result in achievement and accolades, it can never produce wholeness.
Thus, when I discovered five or so years ago after much study and honest introspection that greatness is hard-wired into our DNA – that we are the essence of win, royalty even – that we were created to dominate, to overcome, to super-abound (i.e., to reign), I became singularly focused on leading all I can to the same realization.
I have learned that lives are changed for the better (first and foremost our own) when we have the audacity to show up rightfully positioned.
So who's missing?
With the hat I currently wear as a chief diversity officer, I of course am focused now more than ever on this question (i.e., who's not on the board, represented in our leadership structure, on the proposed client team, considered in policy decisions, in the room, at the table).
I certainly understand that not everyone is right for every situation, but inquiring in this regard, I believe, is critical to the achievement of true inclusive engagement.
But I am asking who's missing in a different context here – a more personal one. I am asking, which of you is endeavoring (like I did for years) to show up at work, in the meeting, in the room, physically present yet quiet, self-diminished, power-unaware (i.e., beneath your royalty)?
And by asking this question, I am challenging all the self-reported “missing” to decide right now to show up for yourself (and for all within your sphere of influence), from this point forward.
Settle that you belong in every room that you enter. Resign that you are someone's possible and thus obligated to teach at every opportunity why having a you in all your uniqueness on the team is a game changer. Decide to own your royalty in every moment.
Who's missing? Since you already possess inside you everything you need to meet the above challenge, the answer to this question need not be you.
Dawn R. Rosemond is a partner and director of diversity, professional development & inclusion at Barnes & Thornburg.