A couple of months ago, I had the opportunity to read an advance copy of Jessica Pettitt’s book Good Enough Now. The book is out today!
Good Enough Now is a great book explaining how to really do the personal work to effectively raise awareness and engage in action around diversity, inclusion, and social justice. I really appreciated the focus on not being perfect and allowing for messiness. That is so important and often gets in my own way. Jessica has a great framework that is easy to understand and can be applied in a wide variety of situations to more effectively engage with ourselves and others.
Jess generously agreed to do an interview for her book launch.
Keith: In your book Good Enough Now, you explore how people can connect their head, hearts, and action to bring about more good in the world. Given all your work as a speaker, trainer, and facilitator, how did this format and framing for the book come about?
Jess: After doing diversity trainings, workshops, retreats, and answering questions after keynotes, I began to notice patterns of excuses as to why folks didn’t feel like they were good enough to intervene or interrupt oppression, let alone advocate for others and at times even themselves. I developed a model that illuminated our response patterns and wrote the book to encourage readers to “do their own homework” and uncover the roots of the behaviors they are responsible for, how these were developed, and to leave room for someone else’s intentions.
Keith: Who is the audience you had in mind for this book as you were writing it?
Jess: Honestly, all of my products started with a problem I was having and couldn’t find another tool to lead me to a solution. If it works for me, it could work for others, by sharing this tool with others paired with my own journey to problem solving, we could meet in an authentic and vulnerable space. Anyone willing to meet up in this space can then be curious about others’ experience and generous. This is the heart of social justice work. The audience therefore got wider and wider and now includes anyone interested in doing something different leading to a different result.
Keith: Can you explain briefly head, heart, action as you use them in your book?
HEAD – doesn’t mean intelligence or academic – it references a need for or getting hung up on small details, vocabulary words, statistics, data, content.
HEART – doesn’t mean nurturing or parental – it references the connection between something small to something larger, be it an idea, mission, value, or even events or programs.
ACTION – doesn’t mean athletic or fitness – it references the reactive or proactive responses and not a lot of planning, talking, research, etc.
All three variables are equally good and frustrating to others. All three are in all of us all of the time.
I can (re)claim responsibility for my actions when I understand the patterns of my behaviors and the roots of these patterns. Moreover, I can notice my excuse patterns that limit my responses that I can also lean into when needed to behave in ways that are needed in the moment that may be outside of our habits. Lastly, if I can do this work myself, then I can hold others at a distance to see them for their behavior habits instead of just shutting them down or out due to my frustration. Now we can make a better connection.
Keith: What is the “third rail” in terms of head, heart, and action?
Jess: We typically respond from two of the variables leaving the third to fuel our excuses or, as I call it, gas pedal us through crucible moments in our life. Like on the NYC Subway system, the third rail powers the system and can also be deadly. Kryptonite and a Vaccination all at once – it is how we use our third rail and work with others third rails too.
Keith: What has shifted within you through the process of writing this book? How do you show up differently in your doing or being?
Jess: I am a head/action person, so heart is my third rail. The model, literature review, and research got feed in the First section of the book, Good. When I read other books about different types of conversations, the “Now What?” section came off to me salesy or at times manipulative and I wanted to really drill home the concept of self responsibility and the claiming or reclaiming of it instead of waiting to be perfect before doing something. I also didn’t want the Now section to be about using this new jedi skill to impact others, but to understand one’s own impact on others. The middle section, Enough, is all about trying to try and doing the best you with what you have some of the time. My own excuse patterns are much more familiar to me after getting this project completed because I believe this matters more than ever. I am much more open to hearing from others my patterns that I don’t know about, way less defensive, and comfortable with the reality that I will never be done with this self-reflection work.