Podcast #003

Cynthia Bryant – Mediations, president Carter, diversity and working at Inclusion

“If you do not understand yourself first, then you can not open yourself to understanding others.”

Cynthia Bryant

Cynthia Bryant

Cynthia Bryant is intuitive and a visionary. She is an attorney in Washington D.C. who strategizes with leaders to tackle roadblocks to understanding our world and improving our human relationships. As a Black woman and blind person who was once sighted, Cynthia is keenly aware of the crucial role sensory mindfulness plays in emotional intelligence and inclusivity. A certified mediator and negotiator from the Harvard Negotiation Institute and a Clifton Strengths Coach, Cynthia has enlightened leaders and organizations with her one-on-one counselling and thought-provoking training on the art of practicing empathy and engaging all senses to enhance understanding of self and others. In April 2021 Cynthia carried her message, “Innovation from the Inside: Engaging Your Senses to Stimulate Creative Thought,” to the Innovation in Speaking Conference in the Netherlands. There she captivated her audience with stories on the joy of blindness and the power of sensory mindfulness. Cynthia continually envisions new ways to strengthen our understanding of the world and each other. In her spare time, she tosses the ball around with her guide dog Summer.

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Reflection

Something I found interesting was her mother deliberately exposing her to a wide range of cultures growing up, causing her to see empathy as an essential quality in a leader, especially as she talked about the difficulties of segregation. I know I have cast my net quite wide over my lifetime, but don’t we all sometimes miss something?

Podcast Notes

Cynthia Bryant, an intuitive individual who has dedicated her life to helping organisations be mindful and see things from a different perspective. She is an attorney in Washington D.C. who strategizes with leaders to tackle roadblocks to understanding our world and improving our human relationships. As a Black woman and blind person who was once sighted, Cynthia is keenly aware of the crucial role sensory mindfulness plays in emotional intelligence and inclusivity.

Cynthia recently sat down with Exponentially Me CEO, Eksteen de Waal to discuss her views and experiences on the topic of Leadership and Relationships.

One person in leadership that Cynthia admires is President Jimmy Carter. The reason why she admires him is his commitment to whatever he started, and how he became extremely focused on what he did, and that he completed it. When she was talking to him about Camp David, he told her about the negotiation and his perseverance – no matter what type of block he encountered, he would push through. It’s his perseverance, most of all, that she admires and it even came across in the interview.

This mindset has greatly influenced her and has allowed her to be the person that she is today. ”It influenced me in the sense that: ‘if adversity comes your way you keep on pushing through, you keep on finding a way’ and just in watching him and understanding coming out of office starting from ground zero, he persevered. The influence for me was his excitement about what he did. It kick started my excitement about mediation, my excitement about working with people again.”

The conversation went on to speak about leadership, and how she views leadership. “Leadership, in my opinion, is the ability to not only see the big picture, but also to bring in others and not stand in the way of their progress. A great leader is never afraid to let others shine,” says Cynthia.

She also believes that leadership is the core of relationships, and that a bigger part of that is the ability to demonstrate empathy. “Empathy doesn’t mean pity, it doesn’t mean sympathy, it means I’m able to step back and take myself out of the picture and see who you are. When we do that, we begin to understand how we can relate to others. To me, this is a vital part of working with people with disabilities.”

She goes on to explain that disability knows no race, no colour, no gender, none of those things. “The thing that I would say about people when you’re working with people with disabilities, specifically, is that I think it’s forgotten that we cross all spectrums.”

Leadership means knowing what the team is going through, and then assessing their view to help the team members lead to success. One way to bridge the gap in society is by exercising patience.

Most of all, Cynthia says, is that we should challenge our own ideas: “always challenge your assumptions, so that you keep yourself moving and you don’t sit square on one opinion. Challenge it, make sure it is what you think it is.”

Have a listen to the full podcast that Eksteen de Waal had with Cynthia Bryant and find out more about how leadership can influence relationships.

Show Notes

0:00 – Introduction
2:00 – Who do you admire?
5:17 – Meaning of leadership
8:07- Relationships 1
1:10 – Discrimination
14:17 – Cognitive Empathy
17:27 – Responsible Leadership
19:59 – Biases
23:31 – Learning Conversations
29:27 – Characteristics of Leaders
35:30 – Jimmy Carter
39:00 – Assumptions
42:40 – Intent vs Impact
47:50 – Fallibility
50:19 – Role of sight
53:16 – In the moment
56:37 – Eyes Shut
1:01:00 – Conclusion
1:01:42 – Reflection

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More Guest Quotes

Leadership, in my opinion, is the ability to not only see the big picture, but also to bring in others and not stand in the way of their progress. A great leader is never afraid to let others shine.
Empathy doesn't mean doesn't mean pity. It doesn't mean sympathy, it means I'm able to step back and take myself out of the picture and see who you are.
Disability knows no race, no colour, no gender, none of those things.
There is a grey space of understanding that's not me. And it's not us. Sometimes when you're talking to someone and you're engaging with them, and you're learning about them.
Challenge your assumptions, always challenge your assumptions. So that you keep yourself moving and you don't sit square on one opinion.
It's the ability as a leader to be able to say: “I was wrong”.
There is respect behind that. That when you allow yourself to be human, and to admit mistakes, learn from mistakes, talk about them, and move forward from them.
It really takes a leader being able to say, I need to do a self-assessment. I need to re-evaluate where I am and what I'm doing. I need to understand that something isn't right. I know it in my guts. But now I need to admit it and bring it out into the forefront and talk to others about it.

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