Hi, my name is Leesa…
Although it’s spelled L-E-E-S-A, it’s pronounced Lisa, and NOT Leeza or Liza. I’m a writer, storyteller, social historian, and diversity advocate.
To understand my work, you have to understand the first time I played the organ.
I started playing at my mom’s church when I was 17-years old (the one I’m playing in the picture isn’t the one I was playing at 17).
I didn’t know how to play the organ. The piano, yes, but not the organ. Yet, the congregation needed someone, anyone, to play the songs from the hymnal on the only instrument in the church, a small electrical organ.
So, the following week, I played. I wasn’t that bad, but I wasn’t good either. A gentleman in the congregation let me know.
“You didn’t play well,” he said to me.
I laughed nervously.
“Oh, it’s been awhile since I’ve played.”
It was not funny to him.
“Well, you need lessons or something. You made too many mistakes,” he replied.
And every week after that, he approached me after the service to tell me how terrible I played.
I started getting sick in my stomach whenever my mom pulled into the church’s parking lot. Because I knew that that man would approach me after the service and criticize my organ playing.
I needed him to stop.
I needed him to go away.
I needed him to leave me the hell alone.
After the service as I was packing up the hymnal and closing the organ, the man approached me. Yet again, he criticized my playing.
So, I took a quick breath in.
I stood up.
I pointed to the organ bench.
Then, I asked him the following question:
“Can you show me what to do so I can play the organ better?”
I’m not entirely sure why I asked him a question.
Anyone hearing this story would say I had the right to shout at him and unleash my rage. But somehow, I asked him a question in a polite, gentle, and non-confrontational way.
The man looked at me.
He glanced down at the bench.
His eyes slowly moved up and stopped at the organ keys.
Then, he walked away. And he never approached me ever again.
It was in that moment I learned the art of curious inquiry…
Curious inquiry is the ability to ask meaningful questions with the intention of getting meaningful answers. Curious inquiry can diffuse conflict, reveal truth, and transform human behaviour better than confrontational words or harsh language.
The art of curious inquiry has taken me on an interesting journey…
- As a regular contributor to my university’s student-run newspaper, curious inquiry allowed me to write articles which brought attention to matters affecting students on campus. I searched for the lesser known issues and advocated for the voice of those who were in the background.
- After graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in History, I worked as a copywriter, researcher, media analyst, and then as a freelance journalist. Curious inquiry helped me get to the truth in a non-confrontational and gentle way. Those I reported to were often delightfully miffed at how I was able to uncover such intimate details from my interview sources.
- After teaching myself HTML, I launched my very first dot com in the late 1990s (picture below is an article written about my innovative web-based magazine). It was an online magazine where I continued to use curious inquiry to highlight the rich and complex stories of female amateur athletes so often ignored by mainstream media.
- By teaching myself the most in-demand programming language at the time, I unlocked the door to a 15+ year career in technology working first as a programmer, then as a software project manager, then as the owner of a digital marketing agency. Curious inquiry allowed me to pinpoint future tech trends and place my clients as thought leaders in their industry.
I finally turned the art of curious inquiry on myself…
On January 3, 2017, I woke at 4:30am to write. At first, I used the time to write a historical fiction that had been stuck in my head for seven years. After 59-days, I wrote expressively about a series of personal and professional setbacks I had experienced a few days before.
I remember feeling refreshed after dumping my feelings out of my head and on to the screen.
I continued using the art of curious inquiry to write everything and anything that came to mind. I continued this practice for another 335
331 consecutive days, writing 461,785 just over 450,000 words.
By writing every morning without editing or censoring myself, a process known as expressive writing or write therapy, I confronted my internal oppression, let go of the expectations others placed on me, and advocated for the person I was born to be.
Curious inquiry, combined with expressive writing, helped me to become a better leader. I’m better able to share my ideas with immense clarity. I’m better at engaging people around my words because I have the courage to have those hard conversations.
I love expressive writing.
It has worked for me and I’ve seen it work for my clients.
Even though I’m a fan, there’s research to back this up. Dr. James Pennebaker has studied expressive writing for over 20-years and his findings show that write therapy is as effective as talk therapy and coaching in changing human behaviour.
If you’re ready to unpack and untangle what’s holding you back, I can help…
Before you can become a better leader within your team or organization, before you can become a trusted ally to marginalized people, and before you can become a better person to the people you love, you have to first question your toxic thoughts, buried beliefs, and invisible issues.
Using the art of curious inquiry, I create questions to help spiritual white leaders unpack and untangle their blocks so they can be effective leaders in an increasingly diverse world.
By combining curious inquiry with the power of expressive writing, these leaders can move beyond their blocks to create truly inclusive organizations and companies. Once you do, you’ll finally be able to:
- Heal from historical and personal trauma so you stop repeating destructive generational patterns
- Release white fragility, white centring, the model minority myth, and spiritual bypassing so you become a better ally to people of colour
- Use your righteous anger to confront social injustice and pursue the causes that align more with your values
- Speak confidently about diversity and inclusion without feeling like you’re going to say something dumb or wrong
- Rediscover who you are so you powerfully release the programming and expectations of who you should be
- Feel liberated and free from the constraints holding you back from pursuing your true purpose
With all the anger and lecturing and judgement out there, you may feel confused as to what to do to take action without offending the very people you feel called to help…
Before you can have the hard conversations around systemic oppression, you first need to breakdown the hard, hidden, and unresolved issues within yourself.
Join my exclusive community on Patreon where you’ll get a new series of healing questions each week to help you work through your internal oppression.
If you’re afraid of being called out, criticized, or screenshotted, and then used as an example of what white fragility, spiritual bypassing, and white privilege look like, join me in my exclusive community.
My Short, Pithy, Succinct Bio
I understand that a lengthy, story-based bio is great for this webpage, but lousy for a conference brochure, event website, article, or podcast/media interview. Copy my 134-word bio below for your event planning needs.
Leesa Renee Hall is a writer, storyteller, and diversity advocate. Author of seven books, Leesa was lauded as a technology pioneer and futurist before turning her attention to using her words to disrupt the stories we tell ourselves about diversity and identity.
After writing half a million words over 365 consecutive days, Leesa discovered that words can help one find their true purpose. Leesa helps spiritual and business leaders use curious inquiry to question their views on diversity so they can become effective leaders and create truly inclusive communities, companies, and corporations. She teaches that the only way you can have hard conversations around systemic oppression is to first breakthrough your inner oppression using the combination of curious inquiry and expressive writing.
Leesa is on the Advisory Board for Awarepreneurs, a global community of social enterprise business leaders and entrepreneurs with a focus on social justice, diversity, and inclusion. Leesa’s tips have been featured in American Express OPEN, Globe & Mail, Choice, The Ottawa Citizen, Toronto Star, Profit, and Inc. to name a few, along with television, radio and podcast appearances.