“Fight for the things that you care about but do it in the way that leads others to join you.”                                                                                    Ruth Bader Ginsburg


The best way to inspire others to join me is to be myself, rather than championing a cause. This requires a willingness to be open, real, and sometimes raw. Our passions are in our stories. I seek to share parts of my story in ways that invite people to explore their own stories in a new way. Inspiring others to join me is always an invitation. I want to be joined not followed. Ultimately, each person must find the impetus to join within themselves.

Inviting welcomes others, it does not persuade, cajole or demand.  Inspiring takes more listening than talking.  I ask questions that lead others below surface answers. Before asking, I make sure I am listening well and holding safe space for whatever responses come up.

Since joining HSA I have had the privilege of participating in person-centered planning. It’s my hope that the things I care about, those things worth fighting for, show themselves in the way I live. This is where I found one of them recently: In a team meeting a colleague asked me what the key difference was between the person centered planning process and former IEP and IPP meetings. The answer fell out of my mouth before it even hit my heart.

In elementary school IEP’s, nice things were said about me, but I remember slumping down in my chair into the hot shame of being talked about rather than talked with or to. I had wise, loving people working with me but that didn’t mitigate the feelings of being broken and invisible. Invisible, because plans were made for me. Broken, because the meetings focused on everything that was wrong with me and needed fixing.

As an adult, I have balked at most IPP meetings and had to be chased down by my service coordinators in order to not lose services. Formal IPP’s stepped directly on the shame of elementary school IEP’s.  Even though I had the perspective of an adult IPP’s left me feeling dumbed down, patronized and treated like a child even though I knew everyone was trying to do right by me.

My third Service coordinator was wise, and inherently modeled person-centered practices. She was willing to meet me in my car or at a favorite coffee shop. We also figured out there was no shame or anger as long as she brought her own questions to ask me and ditched the formulaic outline she was advised to follow. When she moved on, she left these golden nuggets of wisdom for my next service coordinator and the shame turned into confidence.

Person-centered planning focuses on who I am not the problems my disability creates. Nothing is broken that needs to be fixed!  I have challenges to negotiate and team support as I find myself doing things I had started to think were impossible.  Using my skills and experiences to make sure others with developmental disabilities have their voices heard and the opportunity to live a life they create is one of my passions.

This is not about ability or disability; it is about humanness. None of us want to be identified by something that others view as negative, less than, or broken.  We all need crutches of some sort. Think about what throws you off balance? What are your crutches? What supports do you need? How do you want to be known?

Consider exploring your own story. If you’re not sure how to start your story, Person-Centered Thinking training is a fabulous start. It will help you write your own person-centered description.

If you’re curious and want to know what the experience of planning is really like, email me at shawna@helensandersonassociates.com  to chat about whether person-centered planning is right for you.

If you’re ready to get started with person-centered planning for yourself,  contact Lori or Mary Beth .

And to learn more about person-centered planning, visit this page on our website.