My exclusive interview with Chandra Irvin.


Here’s a sneak peek at a section from my upcoming book, Lead with AND.


Chandra is the executive director of the Center for Peace and Spiritual Renewal at Spalding University in Louisville, Kentucky. She also serves on Spalding’s leadership team to help create and implement institutional strategies that promote peace and justice within and beyond the Spalding community.

As author of the book, Do You See What I See?: A Diversity Tale for Retaining People of Color, and founder and president of Irvin, Goforth & Irvin LLC, Chandra consults with leaders from across the world, helping them build strategies that improve relationships and performance in diverse environments.

When working on this chapter, Chandra was the first person who came to mind to interview. Over the past decade, I’ve had the privilege of working with, learning from, and being friends with this incredible woman, and I feel that she embodies the heathy tension between expectations and grace better than anyone I know.



What are things that you do to gain the positive results of expectations?

Treat expectations like a team sport. As a leader, when you have expectations on others, it’s critical that you involve them in developing the plan for how these expectations will be met. Start by making sure the expectations are in fact clear. Then, explore how these expectations can become a reality in ways that tap into the natural energy, skills, strengths, and values of those you lead. Without their input and buy-in, they’ll either fail to deliver, or you’ll end up draining and disengaging them with your one-size-fits-all approach.

What are things that you do to gain the positive results of grace?

Start with self. If you are not able to extend grace to yourself or receive it when it’s given to you, you will not be able to offer it to others. This means that you must accept and embrace your humanity, both the imperfections of it and the beauty of it. You recognize and are comfortable with the true value that lies within yourself, regardless of what you do or don’t do. This is not performance based; it’s who you are at your core—the natural light that is within you. If you are not in touch with this light or don’t believe in it, it will be impossible for you to see it in others.



What is an early warning sign that you’re over-focusing on expectations to the neglect of grace?

The Light Goes Out – When I realize that it’s hard for me to muster up any grace towards a person whatsoever, and my only feelings towards them are negative and dark, that’s a sign that I need to step back and re-evaluate things. It’s normally an indicator that my drive to achieve results and have my expectations met based on my values, beliefs, and goals have overpowered my ability to see the spark of humanity and light in people who let me down or don’t live according to these values. It’s often the people who I struggle and disagree with the most that provide me the biggest opportunities to tap into the power of grace in my life if I choose to go there.

What is an early warning sign that you’re over-focusing on grace to the neglect of expectations?

Permanent Vacation – If you live a life with high expectations, having breaks is important. As a leader, if you don’t give yourself these breaks to recover and recharge, you’ll have less to give others and the light within you will dim. However, it’s important to recognize the difference between recovery and complacency. For example, when I’m taking a breather in my lifelong work that fights for equity, inclusion, and belonging, I have to make sure I’m not saying to myself, “Let someone else do it.” If someone says to me, “I haven’t seen you do much lately; are you walking your talk?,” it’s important to know that I can honestly say, “Yes.”

Stay tuned to read the rest of this insightful interview in my upcoming book, Lead with AND which will be released February, 15th, 2022. Download the first 3 chapters right now –


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Tim Arnold

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