Be a Space, Not a Savior
Be a space not a savior

I love making things better – how about you? 

June 10, 2020

It likely comes from my childhood of watching the people around me in struggle and trying to figure out how I could adapt or insert myself to ease their burden. 

Or perhaps it is simply my inner empath wanting to get some relief from feeling other people’s pain by helping them get out of pain.

Likely it is some combination. 

In my last post I spoke about feeling our feelings. Because being present to our feelings is actually a prerequisite to healing

Today I’d like to share about something I noticed within myself over the last week that may be helpful for you as a transformational leader, and someone who is committed to a higher vibe resolution to our social unrest and injustice.

Last week I moved through a wide variety of emotions as I watched the protests unfold in our country, and experienced my own feelings, and the feelings of the collective consciousness at a deep level. While I did not protest on the front lines, I was with the protestors in spirit. 

The range of feelings are not yet resolved, and I don’t have any answers for you about how to resolve yours, simply questions that will help you to connect with Source as a guide. 

We are absolutely being invited by spirit to tune in and come from a higher place as we choose our actions at this time. 

Before we act, however, we need something first. I want to share a conversation I’ve been having with myself and my loved ones of various races. 


What if you could be a space, and not a savior?

So first, I am having this conversation as a reflection on how we can move forward to create more unity and equity in our society. This is specifically what is bringing this up for me, and I am committed to staying in that specific conversation.

That said, when we work with our energy in one area, we also work with our energy in all the other areas as well. As I have been taking on this exact conversation in my world that I’m about to explore with you, I have seen shifts in my love relationship, and in how I am relating to my business. 

The exact question, what if you could be a space, and not a savior, applies 100% to your relationship with your clients on their transformational journey as well.

First, I am having this conversation as a reflection on how we can move forward to create more unity and equity in our society. This is specifically what is bringing this up for me, and I am committed to staying in that specific conversation.

OK, so here’s what happened.

When I watched the two videos back to back, as many did, of the killing of George Floyd and the racist phone call to the police in central park, I knew inside of me that my life would not be the same.

Interestingly, I had had a conversation with the spirit of my dog who passed a few weeks ago just before this happened. (How this happened is for another day). He showed me that I was going to need to dust off my diversity training from my corporate life and get ready. He said that he had been protecting me in his life, and now I was strong, and it was time. I knew he was right, I just had no idea this was going to be a global transformation. (And I believe it is).

So I’d been percolating on how to bring anti-racism to the forefront of my work for about a week thanks to Monty, and then I saw the videos.

Because I had had training in my past – intensive training to hold space for conversations about ‘social distance’ which included race, gender, age, and sexual orientation – and I had been ‘in the conversation’ of racism in my time as a public high school teacher, when these events happened I felt ready. I had been thinking about what to do differently to be more proactive for some time. I had ideas in a notebook already. I thought I was ready. 

And to those reading this who are judging me for having had ideas in my notebook that I hadn’t acted on, I get it. I can only offer to you that I have judged myself quite harshly as well. Then recognized I would not create transformation from that energy. But I am willing to receive any pain it will cause in reading this and knowing I could have done better as an ally from the start. I apologize that I waited so long.

With my list of ideas…

Because our world was hurting, because I had already decided that I would be a better ally, and because I had written down ideas almost three years ago, and because I have a lifetime of training in “trying to make things better,” I was ready for action. 

But, here’s the thing. Action wasn’t what was called for last week. 

As I joined calls, and Facebook conversations, and read and engaged last week I discovered this so deeply. It was a big ah-ha. I may have felt like I was ‘ahead’ because I had my list of ideas, but I was actually out of sync with the collective energy of transformation

As we saw across social media, it has been a time for listening, especially for white people. Listening and learning (even though I had lots of past training, I have had a lot of learning to do). 

More than listening (in addition to listening) this has been a time for holding space. For being a space for the conversation to be had, and for those speaking to be witnessed.

This is so important. I want you to get this for yourself as a leader who is committed to implementing anti-racist systems in your business, and also as a coach or retreat leader.

More than listening (in addition to listening) this has been a time for holding space. For being a space for the conversation to be had, and for those speaking to be witnessed.

From the coach standpoint, so often we want to come in with the ‘answer’ to look like we are a step ahead, or to simply move someone out of pain as quickly as possible. 

But in coaching thousands of clients and leading more than seventy retreats at this time, I have learned that this is rarely the right approach. 

Many times over the years I have given clients fabulous solutions that they didn’t implement. I am guessing you have too. Because we need to first bring a space and a listening to the table. To work with the current energy and get clarity of intention.

Transformation isn’t just about the action, it is about the energy. 

When we want to bring an answer to our clients, because we think we know it, and we want to help them avoid pain, we will be met with resistance because the intention isn’t ‘clean.’ They don’t want the answer from you. They want to be in ownership of their own answer. “No one believes anything until it comes out of their own mouth.” 

(I got this quote from my friends Molly Ola Pinney and Aja Davis, transformational leaders and an interracial couple, who are facilitators of the Facebook group  (White people. DOING Something  ). They are doing a beautiful job facilitating and creating a space and I highly recommend it for people from all backgrounds). 

If we want to move a CLIENT to a solution before they, and we, have gotten present to where they are and what they truly want, we will be giving lots of advice that doesn’t land (trying to be a savior) and we’ll feel anxious because things aren’t changing for them as fast as we would like. We want to fix it and get them (and us) out of the pain, and leave us looking good.

If we want to move OURSELVES, and / or the collective, to a solution before we are present to what is so, and what we truly want, it also won’t land. (I’m talking truly… the inner work…  the hard awareness of our internal beliefs). We’ll be wanting to fix a situation to get us out of pain, or to look good. (This is exemplified in the white savior concept. And I think all of us have a tendency to want to get out of pain, and also to look good, I know I do.)

We do need solutions and actions to be allies. And if there are actions you can take immediately in alignment with how Source is calling you to show up, do them quickly and without fanfare. 

But because there is a collective movement afoot, we need to hold the space to get clear and aligned about our commitment as a collective (as many as possible) before we can access the best solution. 

If we want to move ourselves, and/or the collective, to a solution before we are present to what is so, and what we truly want, it won’t land. We’ll be wanting to fix a situation to get us out of pain, or to look good.

This weekend we had our friend Javeon Butler over. Kimmi brought Jay into our ‘business family’ several years ago as a partner in various video projects after meeting him at an event. Jay is the super talented 28-year-old Black business owner of J. LaRay Media who Kimmi shoots events with, and who I have hired quite a few times (he did all the editing of the Retreat and Grow Rich course – woohoo!).  Jay lives in Houston and Kimmi has been in communication with him about what he may need and offers of support. 

Jay decided that getting away from Houston would be so supportive to him (he’s been protesting all week), so he asked to spend a couple nights with us (our first house guest!) In addition to getting out in nature and eating great food, we spoke at length about what is happening in the world. We held space for him. He held space for us too. And I saw again how space is what was needed at this time. We explored solution-oriented ideas at times, but we primarily shared our experiences and our commitments and we held space


Javeon Butler

On Sunday we ‘went to church’ together – virtual attendance of the Lighthouse Church in Houston (Jay films and produces it! Check it out!)

The message couldn’t have been more perfect. The pastor spoke on the topic of “How to get a prayer through.” 

Do you want to know how Pastor Henderson says to get a prayer through? AGREEMENT. 

He said: “God loves when we come to him of one accord. God loves when the sound comes together like a symphony. God is in love with the sound.”

He also said: “We can’t experience God because we can’t find agreement. Don’t focus on your personal prayer, seek to create a symphony.” 

Now when I was thinking of my anti-racist efforts as ‘what I can do’ and I was itching to take action on them, I knew I couldn’t do it alone to be sure, but I definitely wasn’t seeking to create a symphony. 

  • I am definitely seeking to be a clear stand for anti-racism.
  • I am definitely seeking to hold space for our retreat leaders to be clear about how they will hold space for conversations about race that come up on their retreats, because they have done their own work.
  • I am definitely seeking to bring in experts who will be able to see my blind spots, and hire them and work with them myself and in our programs.
  • And I recently added seeking to be a voice and educate people who are spreading misinformation, taking some of the burden off of those who have been doing this for so long. 

But I have to tell you the truth, I have not been seeking to create a symphony.

This was one of those hand-on-forehead-emoji moments as I put together my insight about space holding with this message about symphony. 

As a retreat leader who is holding space for transformation, while each person has a different goal or agenda on retreat, we find, for the space of the weekend, a unified energy. The prayer gets through. With the shared agreement (I call it commitment), the transformation can commence. 

Some participants may be more committed, and some less committed, but the energy of the collective commitment creates a life all its own.

How would we even begin to have this happen on a global level? We hold the space for the symphony.

Having the ‘right’ answer and preaching it, well that will get us so far. (Kimmi constantly preaches to me about the right place to put the bowls in the dishwasher but it only gets her so far.)

Holding space for hearts to align, for a collective joint prayer, this is magic.

Holding space doesn’t mean keeping your mouth shut.

When you hold space as a retreat leader, you are holding an intention and sharing in alignment with that intention. And it is not just you as a leader who is doing this. The collective sharing helps keep the space sacred and forward the intention.

If you are holding space for truth, for example, and your intuition tells you that someone is not being truthful with themselves, you gently reflect back your experience of them. And you allow them to decide how they wish to receive that reflection and move the conversation forward. 

You are tuned in and intentional. You’re not fixing or saving (I tried this at times in my early retreats – no bueno!) You are not forcing your agenda. But you are also not allowing the wind to blow you this way and that. You are present, receiving, working with the energy, and trusting your divine guidance. 

All of these skills apply to transforming our conversation about race in the country. How might your voice help hold space for a grand symphony in the coming months?

This is the question I’ll be asking myself this week. Next week we will talk about collective commitment. See you soon!



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