By: Mandy B. Anderson
My heart is heavy with the weight of what is happening in the world around me right now. Rather than try to write an amazing blog post with the right amount of words and keywords and catchy phrases that will help the Google find it, I want to speak from the heart. So here goes...
A few days ago in my community a well-known Wellness Coach and Fitness Trainer made a video that went viral. It went viral for all the wrong reasons. Over the course of three days it had over 80,000 views, 1,000 plus comments, and more shares than I could count before the person that screenshot the video and shared it finally took it down.
In this video she fat-shamed a manager of a food-coop claiming that she can’t do her job because she is obese. At the root of her accusations was outrage at the fact that a friend of hers just lost the job that this new manager was taking over.
I watched the video.
I was not surprised at the bold opinions of this leader because I’ve known her for years and she is very “in-your-face.”
I was surprised at the very hurtful words she exclaimed while she boldly proclaimed she was a Christian and wasn’t judging because these were facts.
Let me be clear: I don’t hate this woman. I am deeply disappointed in her. And I will even admit that in the past I have been intimidated by her because she is one of those personalities that takes up the whole room. She leads with boldness and tends to leave empathy locked outside. That works for some people...until it doesn’t.
Her actions resulted in thousands of people speaking up about the way they truly felt when interacting with her in a very Regina George from Mean Girls type of way. She was called horrible names and equally shamed for her actions and eventually several profile and business pages of hers were deactivated due to the outrage. The treatment she received by most of the people commenting was equally wrong and I do not condone it; however it was not surprising because she quickly reaped what she sowed.
This all went on while our nation is uprising and protesting about the injustice happening to the black community. This issue is also weighing heavy on my heart as I listen to the stories of black people talking about the reality of their lives in this nation. I have wept over this several times over the last few days.
And I hope I never stop weeping over this because racism is wrong.
I’ve seen white Christians stay silent on social media or steer clear of the racism issue during conversations face to face. I’ve read comments of white Christians outraged about looting and riots and then mentioning one small thought about the sadness of a black man losing his life as if that is less important than material things. It grieves my heart to realize that white people would rather rally around other issues right now - like abortion and opening up our churches again after quarantine - than step up and face the hidden racism that is hidden in their own hearts. Staying silent and ignoring it is easier but that is not what we are called to do as leaders OR as followers of Christ. God is a just god and He is weeping over the deaths of his black children right now - we should be too.
And this is where the message to coaches and leaders helping other people improve their lives comes in.
We need to realize the tremendous responsibility we have to influence people and help them step up in life.
We need to know how to not only challenge them with tough love, but to also tenderly hold space for their pain.
We need to face our own pain, our own prejudices, our own pride.
We must do better. Because in one moment with the swipe of a finger and a live video on social media, we could unintentionally trigger thousands of people to fall backwards from shame about their weight or the color of their skin instead of lifting them up in love.
That’s the reality of what has happened in my community this week because of one leaders bad choice. That’s the reality of what’s happening in our nation because of injustice, which is a much heavier problem than my words can even give honor to right now.
Coaches and Leaders, we will all make mistakes. And when we do - we better make sure we know how to give an honest, sincere apology and follow that up with action steps to do better and make things right.
Podcasts for Apologizing Well:
Harriet Lerner and Brené - I’m Sorry: How To Apologize & Why It Matters, Part 2 of 2 https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/unlocking-us-with-bren%C3%A9-brown/id1494350511?i=1000473945077