Understand that the person or people with whom you’re disagreeing are suffering just like you. Rather than arguing your point and insisting upon being right, ask how you can help that person. More importantly, ask yourself how you can be of service to that person. It takes a great deal of letting go of your ego to simply set your opinion aside and just listen. I have found that by simply saying: “I am listening to you and understand your point of view. I’d like to hear more” causes people to let down their guard and know they’re being heard because at the end of the day, we all crave being heard, understood and accepted.
As part of our series about ‘5 Steps That Each Of Us Can Take To Proactively Help Heal Our Country’, I had the pleasure of interviewing Kelly Lee Reeves aka @theSoulopreneur.
Kelly is a serial entrepreneur who had founded multiple companies. She founded her PR company in 2002. In 2013, she co-founded a nonprofit animal called Paw Prints in the Sand where she oversees the day-to-day operations as well as the fundraising, PR, and marketing initiatives. She recently retired her PR business and became an NLP certified life and business coach where she teaches entrepreneurs and executives over 40 how to tap into their greatest potential, make a difference in their lives and impact the world around them.
Kelly also mentors students in the Masters of Entrepreneurship Program at the Paul Merage School of Business at the University of California, Irvine. She has received multiple awards of recognition from the Orange County Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America, an Award of Distinction from the Communicator Awards and has been nominated multiple times for Women in Business Awards by the Orange County Business Journal.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you. Can you tell us a bit about how you grew up?
Igrew up in Georgia, just outside of Atlanta. My parents divorced when I was very young. My mom, a single mom of two little girls, became a police officer for Atlanta PD, which is how she met my stepdad who was a homicide detective in Atlanta. This was during the Atlanta child murders in the late 70’s early 80’s. When we were kids, my sisters and I never knew if my mom would come home from work on any given day.
My biological father was an airline pilot so we didn’t see him much. My stepdad raised me, was the coach of my softball team. In addition to being a homicide detective, he worked 2 jobs to provide for his family. He was one of the most decent, honorable men I’ve ever known.
Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?
“A New Earth” by Eckhart Tolle. I go back and read through my notes on this book as well as his other book “The Power of Now” and think: “My God! If everyone read these books, our world would be completely different. There would be more understanding, compassion, self-responsibility and a deeper sense of awareness and being. People wouldn’t be so unconsciously angry and hateful.
We all have the desire to be right. That’s our ego: “I’m right, you’re wrong.” Both sides feel the same way, hence all of the anger and violence we are imposing upon one another right now.
One of my favorite quotes from this book is: “The ego uses this misconception to strengthen itself by being right and therefore superior. We then react with condemnation, indignation and often anger against the perceived “enemy”, (e.g. the one with a different opinion or point of view as you).
All of this only strengthens the sense of separation between oneself and the other who’s ‘otherness’ has become magnified to such an extent that you can no longer feel your common humanity nor the rootedness in the one life that you share with each human being, your common divinity.”
When I disagree with someone because they have a different perspective than me, I try to remember it’s just their perspective. We are all free to have our own. I have to remember to let go of my ego and allow it. Trying to convince them otherwise is a fruitless endeavor and a complete waste of time. It only serves to create more negativity and anger within.
Violence is never acceptable no matter what side you’re on. If we want respect, if we want change, we have to respect the other side’s beliefs, points of view, and listen. We have to allow people to feel the way they feel, think the way they think, believe what they believe.
Do you have a favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life or your work?
“When you’re going through hell, keep going.” — Sir Winston Churchill.
I have been through A LOT in life, from my parents’ divorce when I was just six years old and being a latchkey kid. It wasn’t easy having parents as cops. Not only because of the worry, but kids would always chide me in school about how my mom pulled them over. Try being a teenager and trying to date when your parents are cops! I didn’t see my biological father much. Thankfully, he and I have a wonderful relationship now.
My mom and stepdad didn’t have a lot of money. They received a police officer’s salary, which wasn’t much back then. They did all they could to make sure my sisters and I were able to participate in the things we loved — cheerleading, softball, dance, school events and clubs. They figured it out so they could give us the best and as normal of a life as possible.
I’ve gone through some major hardships in life and business, losing clients, my business failing, facing bankruptcy and foreclosure on my home. This quote has always resonated with me because you must keep going in life, no matter how tough it gets! You can’t give up or give in. Life is going to hand you lemons. It’s inevitable, but how you weather the storm is what allows you to develop character and perseverance.
My mom- being a single mom all of 5’2”, 100lbs soaking wet became a police officer in a town where crime has been above the national medium since the early 20th century. Back in the 80’s, there was a decline in the population of Atlanta. There was urban decay, the crack epidemic, the Atlanta murders… Not exactly the safest place for a petite white woman to be on patrol, but she did it because it was something she believed in. She wanted to help people, address injustice, and help keep the community safe. No doubt she went through a lot of hell, but she kept going. In that, she is a role model for me
How do you define “Leadership”? Can you explain what you mean or give an example?
Leadership to me is about respecting people and treating everyone with respect — not matter what their position. It’s about treating the busboy with the same level of respect and human decency as the C-Suite executive across the table. It is also about getting more out of people than the science of management says you can. Great leaders serve and inspire people to reach their fullest potential- to go beyond themselves and reach heights they never thought they could reach.
Leadership should not be confused by title or position. Treat everyone with the same amount of respect and reverence no matter what and never forget where you came from.
Ok, thank you for all that. Now let’s move to the main focus of our interview. The United States is currently facing a series of unprecedented crises. So many of us see the news and ask how we can help. We’d love to talk about the steps that each of us can take to help heal our county, in our own way. Which particular crisis would you like to discuss with us today? Why does that resonate with you so much?
You probably had the answer to this from the very beginning. 😉
I will say this upfront: What happened to George Floyd was absolutely deplorable and tragic. I hate not only knowing, but seeing on video another human-being being forced to endure such violence and suffering at the hands of corrupt people in a position of power. The men who are guilty of this crime shamed the badge and the uniform and everyone who wears it.
I know discussing the riots and anything having to do with race or the police is a very loaded subject. There’s a war of words just trying to understand what’s happening and what everyone is thinking and feeling.
It seems no one really wants to listen to the other side. I know that’s a blanket statement, but based on the many heated discussions and posts I’ve seen on social media, people seem to have a “my way or the highway’ attitude. This is what’s tripping us up. We don’t want to see beyond our own beliefs.
I often receive the response: “You’re white. You don’t get it.” How can we have a rational and equitable discussion when it’s already assumed that you’ll never understand the other side’s point of view, or have compassion, or an open mind simply because of the color of your skin?
Knowing my parents were good cops and knowing many other good, honest, and decent LEO’s in my life, it’s painful to see people hating on police and lumping all police officers into the “bad cop” category. There’s even a pizza place in Maryland that posted in its web site that they will refuse service to police in uniform.
People would assume I hate whole Black Lives Matter movement because of how much hate there is right now towards the police in the name of it, but that’s not the case. I am more sad than anything that there is so much pain right now. We are all hurting in some way, shape, or form — hurting in the form of anger, injustice, fear, resentment, bitterness, uncertainty, and loss.
I am sad that this pain is causing people to act and react in a way that is causing broader and in some cases, irreparable damage.
I know being a voice for the police is unpopular right now, but I feel it’s important to have the courage to speak up. Police officers are not monsters. Their families fear for their loved ones too when they walk out that door. It’s not a color issue. It’s not a social status issue. It’s a human issue.
We need to start treating each other like humans again. We need to restore within ourselves a deeper sense of humanity in the face of the pain, anger and frustration.
This is likely a huge topic. But briefly, can you share your view on how this crisis inexorably evolved to the boiling point that it’s at now?
There has always been racial tension, but I think it’s exacerbated now in particular because of COVID-19.
We’ve been locked up, isolated, separated from loved ones, fearful, uncertain and confused. We’ve lost jobs and our livelihoods. We’ve had loved ones suffer and die alone in hospitals. We’ve had to cancel graduations, weddings, funerals, birthdays… We’ve been dehumanized by having to wear a mask everywhere and maintain social distancing. No hugging. No dating. No gathering.
The media is counting the number of dead humans every second of every day in every news headline. All forms of entertainment, recreation, and worship were removed from our daily lives.
Depression, anxiety and desperation set in. Because of all this, our nation was a ticking time bomb just waiting to explode. What happened to George Floyd was the match that lit the ultimate flame.
Can you tell our readers a bit about your experience either working on this cause or your experience being impacted by it? Can you share a story with us?
I am definitely impacted by seeing how much people are hating on the police- the men and women who took an oath to protect and serve their communities. Like I said before, just like there are good people and there are bad people; there are good cops and there are bad ones with the latter being in the minority. The great majority of police officers wear their uniform and badge with pride and uphold the oath they swore to the citizens in the communities they serve.
As someone who knows from first-hand experience, and contrary the “you’re white; you don’t get it” comments — I do get it. Do I know what it’s like to be black — or Asian or native American for that matter? No. Just like a man can’t ever fully understand what it’s like to be a woman, but can there be a level of understanding, empathy and compassion? Absolutely!
I do know what it’s like when a loved on leaves home, and you don’t know if they’re going to come home- especially as a child! I didn’t know if my mom was going to be shot or attacked on the streets of Atlanta on any given day. I didn’t know if I was going to be pulled out of school and given that news, or have an officer knock on our door in the middle of the night.
I get it! But so many don’t want to hear that story. So many want to continue to blame and pull the “well, now you know how it feels” card. Why does it have to be that way, where there’s a certain level of gratification knowing the other side suffers too?
Why can’t we all say; “Man, you suffer too? How can we help each other then?”
Ok. Here is the main question of our discussion. Can you please share your “5 Steps That Each Of Us Can Take To Proactively Help Heal Our Country”. Kindly share a story or example for each.
1. Ask yourself and God (or whatever higher power you believe in) what you can do today to make a difference. I go hiking every day. Every day, I look up and ask: what can I do? Our world is so broken. What can I do to help fix it?
I think if we all asked this question with honesty, sincerity, and with our hearts, we will be given the answers. We do have the power to change the world with that simple question.
2. Understand that the person or people with whom you’re disagreeing are suffering just like you. Rather than arguing your point and insisting upon being right, ask how you can help that person. More importantly, ask yourself how you can be of service to that person. It takes a great deal of letting go of your ego to simply set your opinion aside and just listen. I have found that by simply saying: “I am listening to you and understand your point of view. I’d like to hear more” causes people to let down their guard and know they’re being heard because at the end of the day, we all crave being heard, understood and accepted.
3. Change your perspective. Life presents challenges for all of us. When we stop labeling it as “good” or “bad”, but rather as a part of our journey, we can respond to all things with character and presence rather than reacting in hate or anger.
4. Get out in the community or give back in some way. Stop watching the news and getting into nitpicks with people on social media. That’s a complete waste of time.
Put your energy into something positive and helpful. Get out an volunteer, help a neighbor; perform one act of kindness every day. You will feel the weight lifted.
I co-founded a nonprofit animal rescue. When the news and social media get too heavy, and I feel that frustration and anxiety start to creep in, I switch gears. I may not be able to bring peace to my community, cities, or among friends who disagree with each other, but I can save a homeless pet. At the very least, I can turn it off and take the dogs for a walk.
5. Turn to self-education and focus on well-being. Take an online course or read a book by a spiritual leader- Eckhardt Tolle, Deepak Chopra, Tony Robbins, Don Miguel Ruiz (‘The Four Agreements” is a must read!)
Having a deeper sense of spirituality, mindfulness and presence helps you deal with life’s challenges. What’s going on in our world today is no exception. The coronavirus pandemic took a huge toll on mental health. Suicide rates in the United States have been steadily on the rise since it began.
Combine that with the anger, fear and frustration of the riots and protests, and we are bound to see a continued increase in mental health issues including PTSD and depression.
This will have a huge impact across all communities, but especially our children. Even though there is still a lot of social distancing, it is vitally important to not only connect with yourself, but connect with others on a deeper, more spiritual level.
It’s very nice to suggest ideas, but what can we do to make these ideas a reality? What specific steps can you suggest to make these ideas actually happen? Are there things that the community can do to help you promote these ideas?
We can choose to make an effort to change or help. Every day, we have a choice of how we are going to spend our day, what we’re going to focus on, and what actions we’re going to take that day.
Simply making a choice is the biggest step we can take. Every day, you can wake up and ask yourself: “Am I going to choose to be loving, kind and helpful today; or am I going to choose to be angry, resentful, and negative?”
That’s how you can make it a reality, by simply choosing your words and your actions.
The community as a whole can make these choices. Stop posting about the negativity on social media. Try posting about goodwill instead. Someone reading this may say that’s looking at the world through rose colored glasses and living in a bubble, but think about it: If it all stopped and everyone CHOSE to take a more positive approach, used more positive words, and took positive action, the love and kindness would spread just as easily as the hate and anger has.
You can start with social media, but you can get out in your community too. Create a group like a book club where you discuss a book written by one of the spiritual leaders mentioned above; or a Bible study (if that’s in alignment with your faith); host a town hall with police officers and members of your community so there can be an open, honest discussion. Reach out to people of a different color or ethnicity. Ask them how they’re feeling and how you can better understand their point of view.
At the end of the day, it boils down to choice and once you decide, you act.
We are going through a rough period now. Are you optimistic that this issue can eventually be resolved? Can you explain?
I believe it can be. My hope is for an integrated world. We’re not there yet- clearly, but it is my hope.
I think that if we can all come together and gain a better understanding of each other, then we will all come away from this with a different point of view.
Right now however, there is so much anger, but like with every heated argument, cooler heads prevail with time. Our business and community leaders have a huge responsibility to include and not alienate. We all do. We can’t continue to make this a black issue or a white issue. It’s a human issue, and we’re all humans. When we can finally boil it down to that one fundamental aspect, then we can start to heal.
There will always be differences of opinion. I don’t think that will ever go away, but we can learn to treat each other better and respect this one life we are living in this world together.
If you could tell other young people one thing about why they should consider making a positive impact on our environment or society, like you, what would you tell them?
If we want to change the world and make it a better place, we need to come from a place of service. There’s power in numbers, and the more people decide to contribute to our society and humanity, and choose to make a positive impact, the more likely positive change will happen.
Is there a person in the world, or in the US, with whom you would like to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂
Eckhart Tolle. His books have literally changed the way I think and see the world and others. I wish everyone would read them.
How can our readers follow you online?