L.I.S.T.E.N.—L is for Luminaries

L.I.S.T.E.N.—L is for Luminaries

“You need to be heard and valued as much as anyone else needs to be heard and valued.”

Listening 2by2: A Paradigm Shift for Leaders (That’s When the Magic Happens!)

Every week, for the next six weeks, we are sharing one of Someone To Tell It To’s values, one for each letter in the acronym L. I. S. T. E. N. These are values that we do our very best to model for and share with others. We believe these values hold the power to brighten our lives and to bring hope and reassurance in healing and helpful ways. To read about each value, follow the links at the bottom of the post.

Today’s value is the letter L: Luminaries.

We have a culture of compassion, care, concern, and support for everyone, that brings light to a sometimes dark world.

  • We know and respect each other.
  • We create an atmosphere of openness and vulnerability.
  • We spend time, energy, and resources on building our culture.
  • We don’t forget the small things.
  • We have fun.

The world is often dark. Doubt, division, disconnection, destruction, and degradation takes a harsh toll in ways too difficult to number. Someone To Tell It To exists to counter all that—with light. That’s what a luminary does: Shine light into the darkness to show us a better way, a healthier way, a more hopeful way. We believe that light can be shown in so many ways to illuminate the darkest corners of our lives and world, to soften the harsh edges and to remind us of light’s healing, restorative power.

The first record of luminaries is in the 16th century when Spanish people lit bonfires along roads to guide people to midnight mass celebrations. They are now used around the world to illuminate patios, walkways, rooftops, and windows during celebrations and commemorations.

Most poignantly, in 2012 luminaries were used on Christmas Eve to honor and remember the lives lost in the horrific Sandy Hook Elementary School (in Newtown, Connecticut) shooting just before Christmas that year. Since then, the commemoration has continued. The luminaries were lights in the deep darkness that holiday season.

So, we strive to be luminaries in the deep darkness of others’ lives. We listen and we observe—to know one another’s hopes and dreams, challenges and fears, and what brings others life and fills their souls. To honor everyone’s life and the experiences they have had. We also respect everyone’s humanity and believe that every person has value, a purpose in this life, and is inherently worthy of being heard. So many people feel as if they are not known, are not heard, are not valued. We want to show them that we know them, hear them, and value them as people worthy of care and love.

In striving for connection with others, we believe that it is vital to signal our respect, to be as open as we can be with one another, and to be willing to share our own challenges and circumstances.We believe in being vulnerable in appropriate places, in order to help others to know it’s safe to be vulnerable themselves. Vulnerability sheds light and blunts and dissipates the darkness. It reminds us that we are not alone in our struggles.

We value building a respectful, caring, and affirming culture. We start with our own team members. We remember birthdays and anniversaries and other special days in their lives. We write countless thank you messages (often handwritten, because they are so much more personal) to our team and board members and others for whom we are grateful, to show our appreciation for them. We plan special activities, such as lunches and dinners with the team, shared movie viewing, and on one occasion, we acquired a private showing in a local theater for our executive team to binge-watch the TV series Ted Lasso, for fun and for learning about positive leadership. We deeply want our team to know that they are appreciated and valued, because they are. And we believe that people who know they are valued in turn value those whom they serve and with whom they live and interact each day.

Small gestures and attention to each person means a lot. We notice and care about our team members and their families. We try to do the same for those we serve, when we know of their circumstances. When someone in the family is sick or in a challenging situation, we ask about them and will offer expressions of concern—through food, flowers, phone calls—to remind them that we care. We try to show up in a variety of ways: Physically when we can, through our gifts, and with our words. Every gesture is vital. Every expression of care matters.

And finally, we want to have fun. The world is dark and harsh and its challenges are relentless. We do hard work when we enter into the emotional intimacy of others’ lives. We need to remember that fun—joy, laughter, being grateful—illuminates this life, this world, this moment in time we have to share together. We are intentional about fun and enjoying the goodness and connection that is all around when we choose to see it, experience it, and be it for one another. We want to help others to reclaim joy again.


Spreading more light into the world through things big and small drives the darkness of doubt, division, disconnection, destruction, and degradation away.


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