Introducing the Four Containers

by | Aug 15, 2022

When we lead and develop solutions the Learn Lead Lift Way, we work to consider all of the possibilities and diverse perspectives we encounter moving through the world. Since possibilities and perspectives vary so widely, it can feel overwhelming to try and anticipate the impacts and implications of what we say or do in response to events and complex social issues. Especially when we don’t know what we don’t know–even in relation to how people on our team might be impacted by any single event, decision or response. So, how can we organize our thoughts before we decide how to speak or act, and do so in a way that demonstrates both cultural competence and cultural humility?

This is a question I asked myself when the Supreme Court decision to overturn Roe v. Wade was made public. I wanted to speak and act immediately. I wanted to support my team members should they need it. What held me back initially was a sense of complete overwhelm. I was trying to weigh all possible outcomes and issues–all at once.

So, I built four mental containers to help me organize all of the information I gathered from diverse news sources, people I interact with through a variety of different roles and other go-to resources who challenge my thinking.

The containers I came up with are:

1. Bodily autonomy and personal agency
2. Business, legal and financial exposure to risk
3. Institutional structures and systems
4. People, equity and social justice

It’s important to note that none of these containers is objectively more “impactful” than any other. How we assess “impactful” depends on our personal beliefs, values, identities, roles and life experience.

As I sorted the information and possibilities I received into one or more containers–and some of them span multiple categories, I realized that this wasn’t just about deciding how I wanted to speak or act in the wake of Roe v. Wade. I thought, what if I were to apply this same approach to solution seeking around other events and issues?

Over the next several weeks, I will be sharing more of my personal insights regarding how leaders can apply the Four Containers to organize their thinking and develop solutions the Learn Lead Lift Way. By the end, you will have a new framework to add to your leadership toolkit. Read about Container One: Bodily Autonomy and Personal Agency here and Container Two: Business, Legal and Financial Exposure to Risk and Upside here.

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