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When Your Very Survival Depends On It

Sometimes life can be so tough, our very survival depends on our ability to speak.

That's why, around the globe, we've witnessed Ukraininian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy using every single forum he can to counter the invasion of Russian President Vladimir Putin, by speaking out for assistance and aid for his people.

On this occasion and in these times, his words truly matter to the lives of himself and his family and to the lives of millions of Ukrainians - and, indeed, to the lives of many thousands of Russian soldiers.

In moments like this, it's not high-sounding rhetoric and discussions about the "arc of history" or "our shared values" that matter - it's language that plainly and genuinely describes reality and desperate need; words, stories and bold language conveying the commitment of the Ukrainian people and its leaders to just plainly saving their lives.

I'm not going to write about "3 lessons about public speaking or leadership you can learn from Zelenskyy" or anything else so outrageously pitiful and irrelevant, given how earth-shattering this invasion is for Ukrainians.

For me, this is personal. My mother is Ukrainian - she and my grandparents' family escaped the horrors inflicted by Stalin and Hitler in combination during World War II. I grew up steeped in Ukrainian culture and history. This invasion is a nightmare resurrected for those who outlived World War II and for those who escaped the evils of the Soviet Communist Empire. I have relatives in Ukraine with whom our family regularly corresponds. They are now living with daily bombardments and battle. A young member of my extended family had to flee to Poland for her life and has been able to return to Australia for safety. There are so many millions who have been sent to freedom, yet the war will rage on.

Last Friday, I spoke to a group of professionals about how the events there are affecting us here in my part of the world. I spoke about what really matters in our lives and work. I noted how right now our efforts and lives may seem trivial in comparison to the war and that we may feel helpless. But it isn't that people around the world are helpless. We CAN help. Here's how:

  1. Through our actions. We can donate time, money or other resources as we have and create opportunity. The tremendous generosity of the Polish people, for example, taking in millions of refugees and caring for them in their moment of need, will not be forgotten. It is not meager assistance. It's giving life. In many countries around the world, we have seen and we will have and can create opportunity to help.

  2. Through our words. We can voice our support, our desire to assist, we can influence and we can voice our compassion. A Ukrainian cousin of mine (once-removed) was a prisoner of the Russian Communists sent to the gulags, in Siberia. He wrote that the letters sent to him in prison, the voices of support, the entreaties to international authorities - all of them and more, had an immense impact on him and his fellow prisoners. It changed the nature and outcome of their imprisonment. He and they are still grateful. He is using his voice and influence right now to support the people in Ukraine. Those in Russia who currently speak out against the war are also bravely using their voices to resist. And when people around the world voice their opposition to the war and in support of Ukraine, they are helping.

In recognition of the needs of Ukrainians and those supporting them right now - and because of our personal connection - we will be donating 20% of continuing profits from all Authentic Speaking ( enrolments and coaching programs to provide aid for Ukraine, from March 22 forward through the end of April 2022. In this way, even as our clients and partners are growing and helping their own lives, they will be contributing directly to the lives of others. Donations will be made through recognised agencies and through our continued efforts to work with others to provide concrete, on-the-ground, assistance in the area.

This is in addition to efforts by which I hope to use our network to continue to assist with humanitarian and long-term development needs arising from this war.

I hope you will join with me in supporting these people through your deeds and your words during their desperate time of need - their very survival.

Peter J. McLean

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