Michelle Kinder is well-known in the domains of social-emotional learning, education and family counseling. She is also an authoritative voice in the discourses of leadership, stress, emotional health, trauma and parenting. Her increasing passion about historical and structural inequities has led her to make an important shift in her career, which we explore in depth in our conversation. In the midst of her transition, Michelle has taken time to slow down and adjust her focus from striving to one of getting results with a sense of ease and groundedness. This inside-out approach takes self-awareness, persistence and patience. She talks honestly about her experience in this episode.
“If you have come here to help me you are wasting your time, but if you have come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together.” - Lilla Watson
Michelle shares how growing up in Guatemala influenced her perspective on social issues and how this developed her capacity to innovate and problem-solve. We hear her view on the destructive “us” and “them” narratives that often accompany outreach efforts and how cultural forces are counterproductive to our ability to be grounded and sensitive as individuals. We discuss the focus of Momentous Institute, her new partnership with the Stagen Leadership Academy, and her collaboration with Rex Miller, with whom she is co-authoring a book on the challenges of educators. Michelle advises that, for us to be most effective in bringing about positive change, we need to do the required work of regulating our own nervous systems. She speaks frankly on her view about the responsibilities of the corporate and philanthropic worlds in establishing a more equitable society.
A Deeper Layer of Leadership Development
- “What are the ways we can change our relationship with fear and stress and ego and show up in a more self-regulated/mutually regulated way?”
- Michelle’s journey of shifting from striving to listening and surrendering, of calming and “clearing the vessel”.
- There are many forces in our culture that pull us away from our grounded, sensitive selves.
- We can become addicted, or at least very accustomed to an ‘air-traffic controller’ way of living and working.
- There is often a need to reset our neurobiology and to build up a tolerance for the lack of activity, or busy-ness.
Practices for “regulating our nervous system”:
- Mindfulness, meditation
- Reflective Journaling
- Guided body scan (try one of the many from Insight Timer). Becoming more familiar with where you hold stress raises your awareness of tightness in those areas.
- Unplugging completely from: work, email, digital devices, social media. Schedule periods of time daily. Prolonged periods that include full days or weeks can also be scheduled.
- Regular exercise or movement
- Consistent 7 – 9 hours of sleep
- Time in nature.
- Eating whole, unprocessed foods
- Regular checks for alignment with personal values
The Upstream of the Upstream
- The importance of focusing on a community’s ability to create the spaces in which children can thrive.
- There are historical structures that benefit certain groups while disabling others.
- “How is my long straw connected to someone else’s short straw?”
- The important role of the corporate and policy world in creating social change.
- Can we honorably grapple with each other as we explore these questions?
Here’s what else you need to know:
- Michelle shared several important statistics from Momentous Institute’s research on the impact of their work with children of ages 3yrs old – 5th grade and their families. The focus on both academics and social-emotional health has had staggeringly positive results.
- Watch Faith talk about the importance of breathing.
Stagen Leadership Academy:
The importance of breathing (video):
About Rise Leaders: