What is Your Counter-narrative?

“We have nothing to fear, but fear itself.”  “Let us brace ourselves to our duties,” so that future generations will say “this was their finest hour.”  These quotations (from Franklin Roosevelt and Winston Churchill, respectively) came to mind when a friend and I were discussing our grandparents’ stories about The Great Depression and WWII.  We concurred that such inspiring (and galvanizing) rhetoric is missing in the current public discourse.  “Who today would give a fireside chat,” my friend mused.

            My friend and I were discussing what we perceive as an imbalance in the public discourse about COVID-19.  Emphasis on what is going wrong with various approaches to the crisis seems not to be counterbalanced by stories and example of individuals’ and groups’ agility and resilience. The heavy emphasis on what isn’t working struck both of us as a disempowering message.  Surely, there are countervailing, empowering stories, we agreed.

            Recalling grandparents’ memories of previous national crises encouraged me to look for a different set of narratives, ones that are not being widely broadcast (at least nationally).  I started looking for “counter-narratives,” stories in which people describe how they are adapting, being agile, resilient.  I have found I am not alone in my desire for counter-narratives.  I have discovered a number of organizations using surveys, online forums, and other vehicles that allow people to broadcast different stories:  grassroots efforts to meet immediate economic needs caused by the crisis; strategies to conduct business and provide services while observing the protocols of social distancing. 

            On March 24, LMR hosted a forum using Zoom, in which 75 alumni shared their concerns and their organization’s needs, but also their strategies for adapting to, and even discovering innovations in, the current situation.  I invite you to participate with your LMR colleagues in sharing your counter-narratives.  What are you and your organizations doing to be agile, resilient, and servant leaders in this difficult period? 

Haywood Spangler, Ph.D.
LMR Class of 2010
Principal, Work & Think LLC

**LMR is continuing to host Leadership Check-ins via Zoom on the 2nd and 4th Wednesdays of the month at 3pm.  For registration information or to submit a counter-narrative for the LMR blog, email pbradby@lmronline.org.