#5: Difficult conversations

The part of Simon Sinek’s TEDTalk that interested me the most was what he said about leaders versus those who lead. He said that leaders are people in power, like politicians, but those who lead are people who inspire others.  Ultimately, people who cause change tend to be people who lead, not leaders. I have never considered myself to be a leader. I have never wanted to be in a position of power, but I have always assumed that if you want to change people’s minds, you have to be a leader. The TEDTalk made me think. Maybe I don’t have to (or want to) be a leader, and maybe that’s fine. If I can be a person who leads, I can promote change in a more effective way.

On the topic of how to cause change, one article I read talked about the importance of having difficult conversations, focused specifically on teachers and educators. This article didn’t get as specific as I would have liked, so I looked for more information about the importance of difficult conversations. In doing this, I found a review of a podcast called “Conversations with People Who Hate Me” which focuses entirely on having difficult conversations. The review talks about the importance of having discussions with people while actively wanting to hear what the other person has to say instead of just debating. It states that “The result isn’t a change in anyone’s politics, but an openness to discuss opposing views on topics such as Pride parades and the Black Lives Matter movement, without insulting the other person.” I think this is a great way to be a person who leads. Additionally, my current debate is whether I should focus on how students can make schools safer for LGBTQ students or how teachers can. The method of just having conversations doesn’t have to be specific to one group of people- you can have conversations with everyone.

Everybody deserves to feel safe and represented. The first step we can take is to have difficult conversations about issues we tend to avoid talking about. Schools should be inclusive and accommodating of the needs of LGBTQ students, and we can start by talking.


Payne, Elizabethe C., and Melissa J. Smith. “School Administrators: Getting Them Onboard Is Key to Change for LGBTQ Students.” The Huffington Post, TheHuffingtonPost.com, 26 Aug. 2013, www.huffingtonpost.com/elizabethe-c-payne/school-administrators-lgbt-students_b_3807707.html.

Mallenbaum, Carly. “Podcast Pick: Dylan Marron has candid ‘Conversations With People Who Hate Me’.” USA Today, Gannett Satellite Information Network, 10 Aug. 2017, www.usatoday.com/story/life/entertainthis/2017/08/08/podcast-dylan-marron-conversations-people-who-hate-me/543865001/.

Featured image by Jonathan Simcoe

Avery Murray-Gurney

2 Responses to “#5: Difficult conversations

  • Hi Avery,

    You raise a good question: Do you have to lead to effect change or is it the work that you do that “can promote change in a more effective way?” These are not mutually exclusive. There are many historical figures (e.g Dr. King, Gandhi, Harvey Milk) who became leaders because of their actions. There also many people around us who have not achieved the same level of fame, yet they have effected change in their community and beyond (e.g. Jadav “Molai” Payeng, a man who spent 30 years single-handedly planting a sprawling 1,360-acre forest in his native India.).

    You are on the right track with your research. Keep looking if you do not find what you are looking for. In terms of your dilemma (“my current debate is whether I should focus on how students can make schools safer for LGBTQ students or how teachers can”), ask your peers or interview some teachers to get some feedback. Remember that all students at some point move on/graduate, but most teachers stay in the same school for most of their career. They are the ones who will be teaching new generations of students and perhaps a change in their attitude can have a lasting effect. At the same time, effecting how your peers address LGBTQ+ issues can produce results a lot sooner.

    Spend some time reflecting on given the limited time you are in school, what would produce the most impact.


  • Hi Avery,
    You have a very strong sense of what it is to be different, in what your looking at. You have thought about why it is so important to have change in this area. Overall, your thinking is evolving so that I can see that your beginning to delve into the different sides of your topic. I’m curious to see what your thoughts are on how the labels in this instance both help and don’t help in schools and life in general.

    Good job!

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