Grace is an honour to engage, a platform to mount; By Ngozi Bell




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Ngozi Bell

Grace creates not handouts

A lot of putting ourselves in one’s shoes and caring about the other, or creating a platform that is different but equal, is about Grace.

One of the things I learned from my mother, is the strength that is required in Grace. The audacity of Grace so to speak. Grace has a format, Grace has a texture.

Grace is a product, and it also seeds other products. So, what that essentially means, is logged in this question – how do I ascribe to someone else what they need for excellence, growth and next thing? Also, that encapsulated in that, is the clarity, that such a moment is really all about them; and that my singular role, lies in me harnessing the parts of me that becomes an enablement for them.

One of the things I learned from my mother is that grace had to be intentional and persistent and that investing in others was necessary but should never be accompanied by intimidation or a reduction to anyone or lack integrity. But instead, manifest as a shared experience and therefore, honourable to all.

Here is a story that brought it home for me. My mom, an excellent STEM author, educator and scientist/chemist, always had a way of sharing, grand complex knowledge in the gentlest of ways and this baffled me because a lot of people who are strong academically or possess superior knowledge tend to have superfluous expressions of complex information. Or they may come display an unhealthy dose of assertiveness. But she was different, she shepherded her brilliance with a gentleness that was almost absurd. One day, a water filtration system representative came over to our home, on the recommendation of a neighbour. The neighbour was hoping that we’d make better sense of his pitch to decipher if the product was worth the high price tag. The filtration stack was based on novel green chemistry. In trying to make the case for its superior performance, he waded into deep chemistry, visibly out of his depth, furiously fumbling in his attempt to impress and explain. As he spewed jargon after jargon on the advantages of the system, the more he confused himself,  trying to detail the functionality of each term he mentioned, while simultaneously, frantically searching his computer for help. Pretty soon, red in the face and visibly disoriented, he knew he had not made a sale. We thanked him, unconvinced and relieved to be done with the tedious engagement. Secretly happy to not have to consider the expense, and almost excitedly looking forward to reporting to our neighbour on how convoluted the information was!

My mother who had been quietly listening walked up to him and commended him on the capability of the system. She then gently recapped each descriptive attribute of the filter he had named and in dialog form engaged him and us with the clearest most down-to-earth chemistry lesson. Going feature by feature using relatable examples, she dissected nano filtration, reverse osmosis, onium functionalised polymers, covalency, the role of carboxyl groups of graphene, and catalytic conversion processes. She taught us about nano fibres and biocides and phosphonium salts and polymeric filters and how covalency or ionic tethering can be used to remove microorganism and so much more. I don’t think we grasped it all, in fact I know I did not, but by the time we were done, we were all convinced about the efficacy of the system. We were fully impressed by a filtration system that leveraged some of the fabrication techniques and technology used in biotechnology and pharmaceutical processing to create ultra-pure water. It even explained the high price. We bought the system outright, and so did our neighbour, after neighbour, after neighbour, after neighbour! The salesman now empowered, gained multiple sales and a tremendous respect for chance encounters!

The magic was in the way she created this bridge of conversation between the seller and the buyer, through mutual learning and information exchange that placed everyone on the same side!  Weeks later, trying to tell the same story, I wondered how to characterise what we had all experienced. How one person’s guidance had made it possible for all of us to step out of our roles and converge to one side. Then just like that, I realised that all she did that day was compassionately bestow Grace, in order that the message or truth is not distorted, and that we could all engage from our places of strength! When this happens, you put on display!

When Grace is applied generously to any situation, it simultaneously creates a safe and equitable space! Let me explain.

My publication of two weeks ago titled “The corporate Immigrant – The Case for a black Google, black Yahoo, black Amazon and everything big like that” dealt with creating spaces that have black people in mind from the get-go. These are spaces of equilibrium – they bring to bear the parts long neglected and rebalance the general ecosystem for good! 

Legally, there is distinction between and equal. Suppose a person who is 5.11 and another who is 4.11 are each given equal support of 2ft elevation. Regardless, that each received equal provision, yet if the task is to reach an item 6ft high, the two people do NOT have equal opportunity for success, nor will they have equal impact. This is because capability and reach will never be the same, so even though they got equal treatment, they needed equitable treatment. If not, you end up with disparate impact.

Under Title VII of the American Civil Rights Act of 1964 (as amended), disparate impact occurs when a facially neutral employment practice has a significantly adverse or disparate effect on a protected group. While this is specific to employment law, it has broad application in other areas.

Fairness only means equal if and only if (iff), Equal means Equity. The equation would look like this

F = E E= Eq, F= Fairness, E= Equal, Eq=

To be fair, is to be equitable. Equitable means doing things of commensurate measure. This is what underlies the idea behind creating the right spaces. It is about how we create equitable spaces so that by the time black brothers and sisters are standing on own platforms, they are standing height wise, breadth wise, opportunity wise, capacity wise, capability wise on equitable standing with their white counterparts. Thus, creating the opportunity for pollination that is durable, helpful, and mutual. 

Grace brings mutuality and it is beautiful

Mutuality is an end game that brings with it a freedom of choice. Every time an engagement is on mutual terms, it implies a freedom to engage or disengage. It essentially means each party came by own free will and consent. The spaces we create or enter or leave voluntarily are situated on platforms that are equitable and mutual. 

Mutuality in Integration

Mutuality is critical to real integration. By the way I like the word integration. Words like Diversity and Inclusion are beautiful words, but they have been overused. In our minds they sometimes conjure something legalistic. For many diversity and inclusion involve just bringing all the pieces together, regardless of the form and fit and then let the fittest survive. Effective mingling is not about gathering the pieces together it’s more about giving the pieces the platforms each one requires to blossom to its fullness. So, beyond the bringing together, it involves the support, infrastructure, and the ecosystem to be put in place. Just like in mutuality you have mutual benefits. Integration implies things getting into each other, in order that the whole benefits. To facilitate this, there must be right?

To engage mutually requires that the engaging parties are stable in their own rights, party A is confident and knows what is good for party A. Same as party B, both making a deliberate decision to engage. Those are the spaces where integration lives and thrives. Grace brings mutual appreciation and engagement that leads to healthy integration.

It was this process I saw in action in the water-filter-sale story. For those like my mother who have mastered it, it is fascinating to watch them bring it to life.

The Pedestal of Grace

Grace allows interactions that lift people up. Lifting people up typically creates a specific set of activities that need to flourish. Grace creates the pedestal that facilitates the pull up, the elevation, the equivalent access, the equal opportunities and more.

 If that pedestal means more education, scholarships that allow you accelerate, access to the things you are not getting, putting the right tools around you, then that is what is provided. For a group or collective, it may mean making your schools better, providing the infrastructure to place the right ladders or even assistance in climbing the ladders etc. etc. etc. That is what the pedestal of grace means. The pedestal of Grace helps you up to your full potential. 

Grace has a texture and a character that ultimately allows for mutual beneficiaries. That is why it is so important to create spaces that ultimately develop the personalities that engage in ways that are complete, whole and equitable.

A recording on this topic is also available at the links below in 2 parts

https://youtu.be/oAMoGVZQnA0   – Part 1

https://youtu.be/CDRCxq1ruyo   – Part 2

About Ngozi Bell

Inspiration, Hard Work, Innovation. These three foundational elements anchor Ngozi’s core belief that manifesting the extraordinary is always within reach. Inspired by her mother A.C.Obikwere, a scientist and author, she learned the privilege of living at the edge of important encounters and dedicating herself to robust and perpetual learning. Ngozi’s background is a combination of Physics, Engineering, Venture Capital/Private Equity, regulations, and business where she has managed over $1B in cumulative revenue. Ngozi is a speaker, storyteller, and writer on a diverse set of topics including AI, iDLT, ML, Signal Processing, iOT, women, entrepreneurship and more. She contributes regularly to VOA, has been a TEDx speaker and is published on tech and non-tech platforms. She is a champion of STEM, women, youth, art and the Africa we must engage. Ngozi is an adjunct professor of Physics and management with work

experience in Asia, Europe, Africa, Middle East, and North America. She is a founder of a number of a number of enterprises and host of the podcast Stem, Stocks and Stews (https://anchor.fm/stemstocksstews-podcast).

Https://www.LinkedIn.com/in/ngozibell/