How Bias Got Burned Out Of My Soul

When I began leading seminars I was a pile of bias, a judgment machine that ran without the benefit of truth. A bit of compassion might be in order, I had almost lost my life to differences and bias – several times – and had the deep wounds to prove it.

So, if you walked in the door to an Inspired Work Program, I would silently judge your political party, education, clothing, regional accent and especially, where you lived.

A few years before I launched Inspired Work, the Jonathan Club, LA’s bastion of the downtown power elite, was in the midst of a bitter class-action lawsuit. African Americans and women were not allowed to join. Every morning on the way to work I would do a drive-by flipping of the finger or thumbing of the nose. Six years later, I was asked to give a keynote speech at that very club. There were two women and one African American in the crowd. When I opened my mouth, words would not come. I blurted out that I had never dreamed I would be speaking to “the enemy.” Somehow, I navigated through my fear and gave what I came to contribute. They gave me a standing ovation.

During Q & A someone asked, “What happened that allowed you to be with us today?”

I told them of standing at the door in the early days of our seminars and judging everyone. I told them that my moral commitment to not use bias against anyone had caused terrible internal pain. I told them of thinking, “Oh, he’ll never get it. He’s the opposite of enlightened.” But, the very people that I silently put down were the ones who had breakthroughs before the first break. Over time, I witnessed that when our participants reached that tipping point, a spirit stepped forward that was so powerful, it took over and did the right thing for that individual and the world around them.

Everyone’s political, belief, religious, economic, sexual, and geographic differences proved to be so superficial in the face of that spirit that I grew tired of feeling superficial.

We waste so much time putting each other down. I believe that behind that anger is the fear there isn’t enough for all of us, that somehow, we have to go for the throat to protect our turf. That is natural to a degree, but it has reached such heights that it is unnatural and not who we really are.

You were born as a much bigger and unlimited soul. To remind yourself, go find someone and give them your love. Make it safe for them to show you their spirit, make it safe for them to do that and watch what happens.

It will change your life. Promise.

The very people I used to quietly judge and put down? I look at them today and see that potent unlimited spirit either fully at play or quietly waiting for the opportunity to jump. I see a power that is boundless. Seeing the transaction between a man or woman’s mind and soul has turned me into an eternal optimist.


David Harder
David Harder
DAVID founded Inspired Work in 1990, which has helped over 42,000 professionals transform their relationship towards work. Individuals from all walks of life attend Inspired Work’s public programs to launch new careers, new business or to become more successful in their existing role. He views work as a profound opportunity to become more fulfilled, contributive and effective. Mr. Harder’s leadership, employee engagement, executive development and social networking programs are used in a wide variety of organizations including The Walt Disney Company, HBO, Sony Pictures Entertainment, Loyola Marymount University, University of Southern California, The United Church of Religious Science, Morgan Stanley, and many others. Inspired Work’s leadership programs, career development and team building programs produce some of the worlds most outstanding satisfaction numbers in any business: 92.6% out of a hundred. David has appeared on many business and human-interest programs including CNN, KTLA News, KFWB News and Business News Network. David’s book, new book, The Workplace Engagement Solution (Career Press) offers an entire “crack-the-code” approach to engagement.

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  1. I work with a lot of people who automatically judge you on what you say and how you say it. Some even let their judgements be known. But there is always a cost for judging. It happens when you run into the person again — then again — then again.

    People know that you’re judging them. And they take this mistrust baggage with them when they meet you again; making it increasingly more difficult for you to work smoothly with them. I’ve seen this judging behavior kill executive teams, strategic programs, and even corporate mergers. You can’t afford to judge others. You can assess, you can fairly appraise, but you can never judge.

  2. I love this article! The internal shifts we make, changes our perceptions of what we may judge. Glad to know you see through a different kaleidoscope allowing others to shine!

    I was just thinking the other day of asking people….. “So, if we were all colors of the rainbow, some solid, some with stripes, would you be so judgmental? Imagine when you communicate with another person, they are purple/pink/blue/orange so that you see beyond the surface and instead connect with their inner spirit.” I believe this could transform the world from hate, war and anger to love and peace.

    We are not in life to compete, rather, we are in this journey together to empower, uplift, share and be as one.

    We have a long way to go, but I have faith and hope that mankind will find their way back to loving one another just as we are!


  3. Nice one David – and I agree with your philosophy – but / and 🙂 when you write;

    “I believe that behind that anger is the fear there isn’t enough for all of us, that somehow, we have to go for the throat to protect our turf. That is natural to a degree, but it has reached such heights that it is unnatural and not who we really are.”

    For so many people today when they look around and see that IF they are working – they are likely earning less than they used to at a job that is likely not as fulfilling as it was … so their *reality* is that there isn’t enough to go round …

    • Thank you John. I agree. Many of us could use real skill-building in self-change because change, for many, is making certain jobs less and less fulfilling – usually time to go.