Image: Martiros Sarian, Pumpkin and Pepper, 1915, [Public Domain] via WikiArt.org
We are thrilled to introduce Tim Rosenberger, our new Director of Business Development and author of today’s blog post. Tim joins Books@Work’s to align our offerings with the emerging needs and priorities of business leaders, especially in workplace inclusion, wellness, team effectiveness and culture change.
The parochial elementary school I attended did not approve of Halloween. Instead, on October 31st, they would throw a “Fall Carnival” that featured wholesome fun. My parents were not quite willing to co-sign the view that Halloween was innately evil, so my sister and I usually split our time between a Halloween party at the nearby library and the school event.
In fourth grade, I was near the apex of my once-consuming obsession with Harry Potter. That year, nothing would do but a Dumbledore costume. My mom made dress robes and we found a beard, a wig, a hat and a wand.
The people at the library were most impressed by the costume. Everyone loved having a Dumbledore there and, in fact, the whole party was Hogwarts-themed. I was surrounded by witches and wizards sprouted from J. K. Rowling’s imagination.About an hour later, I followed my sister into the school gym, flowing white hair and beard covering my head, and long robe trailing on the ground behind me. Mrs. West, the third grade teacher, wrapped me in an enormous hug and said, “Tim, what a lovely costume. You make a wonderful Moses.” Oblivious to my glower, Mrs. West moved on to the next student unaware of having just embraced a committed practitioner of magic.
As I reflect on this experience, I can’t help but marvel at our human ability to see what we want to see and ignore what we don’t. Our own experiences inform our view of the world and the people in it. It’s easy to be so blinded by our individual perspectives that we don’t see or appreciate other narratives.
I have been struck, both before and since the 2016 presidential election, that our ability to form human connections with our colleagues and our broader communities has become subservient to a desire to assert difference. We increasingly define ourselves more by our differences than our common aspirations. My excitement about joining Books@Work comes in no small part from my desire to be part of counteracting that trend.
In my short time here, I have experienced veterans sharing stories of trauma and addiction, raw and open discussions on race, and genuine curiosity and learning around LGBT issues. I have participated with Cleveland residents, police officers and police cadets as we discussed mistakes we have made in our own lives and the ways that community policing can help redirect, rather than derail, young lives. In each case we were invited to be open about our curiosities, beliefs, and concerns. We explored broader perspectives and narratives beyond our own.
Great stories challenge us. They invite us to be vulnerable about our own experiences and curious about the narratives of others. Through the exchange of our human stories we form the genuine connections that power our workplaces and communities. The magic of Books@Work is that it invites us to share our full selves and experience multiple narratives at once – a world where Dumbledore and Moses can inhabit the same space. Books@Work creates belonging in a society that too often rewards division.
In the coming weeks, we will share more of our learning around how stories create belonging as a starting point for openness, inclusion, trust and genuine understanding.