By: Justin Jones-Fosu, Speaker

Have you ever wondered how one event can happen and yet so many people see it from so many different perspectives? I remember about three years ago I was perplexed by an event, and I saw people on social media taking a whole different perspective. I couldn’t accept the “let’s agree to disagree” moniker. I really had to know WHY I saw it the way I did and WHY they saw it the way they did. I began researching and what I uncovered is that we perceive people and events in a society based on WHO is in our “circles of grace.” The closer to the center they are, the more grace, benefit of the doubt, and patience they receive. We tend to give ourselves (1st circle) the most grace. We then give family and friends (2nd circle) grace. Following that, we then give grace to people like us or people like someone you love (3rd circle). If they are in the “everyone else,” category they are outside the circles of grace and they are given (1) little to grace, (2) no benefit of the doubt, and (3) are guilty until proven innocent. Understanding your circles of grace could really impact what you support and don’t support.

Circles of Grace

We tend to lump people into categories (many times not maliciously) because our brains are wired to do it. Have you ever been driving or walking in a direction and you were supposed to go one way, but you went the way you always go instead? (This is embarrassingly true for me.) It’s because your brain moves to auto-pilot lumping when it assumes it knows something, and that, my friends is how we can see an object, person, or symbol and automatically assign meaning and understanding to it without fully knowing it. Many times we do this without our even realizing it is happening. It takes extra diligence and intentionality to combat this and really learn about the event and person from FIRST-HAND information/experience and to try our best to understand all perspectives. This is not about always forging an agreement and believing the same things as others, but about agreeing to see the humanity in others even if we disagree.

I am ashamed at who my EVERYONE ELSE has been throughout the years, but I have made strides to “enlarge my circle” to develop meaningful relationships and gain exposure to people and groups who have been carelessly lumped together. WHO IS YOUR EVERYONE ELSE? I encourage you to take the #6monthchallenge. This challenge is one where I challenge myself to go do something, to learn something, or talk with someone whom I either disagree with or don’t know a lot about. This is a humbling experience, but very helpful. While I don’t always walk away agreeing, and sometimes I have maintained my same position, this exercise has allowed me to see their HUMANITY! My friend, we need this more than ever right now. Will you enlarge your circles of grace and challenge your view of people and events in the society? We can do this together!

TO GO DEEPER: Watch the short video for a more in-depth understanding of the Circles of Grace and identify who is in your circles and who could be.  It just might help you to become a better leader, better member, and a better human!

Justin Jones-Fosu has great leadership strategies embedded in his keynote. Whether you are looking for leadership, diversity, or purpose driven inspiration, check out Justin and his ability to intersect amazing energy and practical content. Trust me, look at one of his videos!!!

Check out one of Justin’s most requested Keynote “Hug an Elephant, Kiss a Giraffe: Embracing EVERYDAY Diversity” and see why Justin is helping move the conversation from head to heart.  Justin’s engaging yet relevant style is one reason he was named as a “HOT ACT” in 2015 by Campus Activities Magazine.

To learn more about Justin, please visit campuspeak.com/jones-fosu