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  • Emerging Ally


So as I have been working on this blog I have had a constant fear: writer’s block.

What if I couldn’t think of anything to write about?

I talked to a friend about this. They were supportive and then they said something that made me laugh and think: “Dave, it’s a target rich environment. They’ll be something that you can write about.”

They are right. It is a target rich environment. Everything from sports to politics to the British Royal family.

It is also exhausting.

Social media is a cornucopia of stories and issues. They all pull and tug at the heart. Test your morals and ethics. In some cases rock your worldview. And they all pile on like bricks. It can be a tough weight to bear.

I remember once a conversation with a friend and mentor about it. He said he would completely understand if I stepped away from the fight. I eventually did but not after the burnout overtook me.

I was working a new job after getting laid off. Leading a department. Working on culture and infrastructure changes. Traveling about 80% of the time - living out of a suitcase and in hotels 3 nights a week. Trying to lead a committee on diversity. Trying to keep up with all the news in the diversity world. Mentoring where I could. Advocating at work - fighting for diverse hires and overdue promotions.

In short burning my candle at both ends and the middle.

After about 9 months of doing that I was looking up at the ceiling tiles of an emergency ward.

The heart had been racing, I had headaches and I asked my wife to take me there.

It was a high blood pressure spike nothing more.

I got straightened out but realized I had to step away from something and the job wasn’t going anywhere.

I still tried to do what I could but the volunteering went away. I slowed down at the advocacy in the office as the fights were draining. I tried to step away from the fights and tried to tune out the social media. I tried to stay informed but when it started to eat at me I learned to take a breather.

Instead of broad advocacy I tried to focus on mentoring individuals. It had much more balance. Allowed for easier scheduling and I could do it more on my terms - “Sorry I can’t meet this week something came up, how about next week?”

I also tried to build a support network on diversity. Reaching out to like minded people at the office. Building relationships with individuals through social media.

It helped.

I got things under control. And I found I was better equipped to handle things.

I should also say there is tremendous guilt. I could step away. I could hide in a corner and take a breath. But diverse folks can’t. They are forced every day, every hour to engage. To worry. About themselves and their family and friends. They can’t hide. And I feel bad that I had to step aside. And that guilt still lingers.

With George Floyd and a new job I decided to step back in with this blog. But with a support group. People who have been amazing and indispensable. I can’t thank them enough.

That’s the thing. As an ally you are not on your own. You need a support group. People with whom you can share your concerns. Build a network as you move along this journey. Other allies. Mentees. Diverse people. ERG members. Sharing your trials will help you be a better ally.

I have also found this network is deeper and more solid than a simple work network. When I was laid off I had more than a few people in my network simply say “give me your resume” or “I’ll introduce you”. When I got possible opportunities there were offers to reach out on my behalf. Again I cannot express how much that meant to me … and to my family.

I will leave this with advice I often give but don’t actually follow as much as I should. When I fly they always go thru the safety measures before take off. They tell you to put on your oxygen mask before helping others. The reason is you can’t help someone if you are in trouble yourself.

As always I hope this helps. I look forward to continuing the conversation. Please let me know your thoughts in the comments.

All the best,

Dave Terné

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