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Opinion: Comfortable with being uncomfortable

Let’s make it OK for people to misstep or make mistakes

May 12, 2023  By Haleigh Callison

Female mill workers. Photo: Annex Business Media.

“One of the guys!” 

A statement I have lived by pretty much my entire life.  

Has it served me in many ways? Absolutely.  

Do I feel in 2023 it is the right approach for our world to move forward? I do not.  


When I entered the lumber industry, coming from professional hockey, it was right around the #MeToo movement, which was a massive moment in time for me, and how I viewed myself and other women.  

I decided that just because something doesn’t offend me, doesn’t mean it shouldn’t, for the bigger picture.

I am an optimist at heart, I believe in people, and I believe most people have good intentions.  This does not mean I am naïve. These are choices I have made for how I wish to look at the world. I recognize these choices are possible for me due to my own privilege. 

We are at a time in the world right now where everyone is afraid to say anything, for fear of being cancelled. 

Few days go by when I don’t hear someone say, “Well, I guess I can’t say anything anymore.”  I understand the sentiment and frustration, and I feel we need to work to create a space for people to say what they think without fear or retribution.  

Trying to have some of these conversations in the moment can, and will be heavily charged emotionally, as the reality is, we are all a sum of our own experiences. It is extremely difficult to not respond defensively with, “I didn’t mean it that way!” or “I wasn’t talking about you personally!” Again, due to our own experiences, how something lands is personal, we are all human.

A goal of mine is to work with people and help them in taking steps towards a place of being OK with making mistakes, saying the wrong thing, and learning how to move forward from that.  This will only be possible if both sides of the conversation work towards this goal. 

It needs to be OK for people to change their opinions, minds, and approaches, regardless of what they have said or done in the past. 

An example of this that hit home for me was a fellow female friend who has worked in our industry for decades. 

A situation happened where there were misogynistic and inappropriate comments made about another woman at an event. She shared with me her struggle around knowing if it was OK for her to call it out now. She knew calling it out was the right thing to do, but questioned who is she to do that, as she has allowed this language to happen for years without saying anything, and at times joining in or laughing along.  

With all of my heart, I understood her position. However, as I shared with her, if it’s not ok for her to change what she feels is acceptable and call it out, well, then, we are screwed.  

I learned a great lesson when I was struggling with something at work and said, “I shouldn’t feel this way.” A former manager and friend stopped me and said, “Haleigh, there is no ‘should or shouldn’t feel’. If you feel something, you feel it. We need to work to understand why you feel that way, and what we can do to change that.”

So this is my challenge to everyone regardless of your position, title, age, or gender: when someone comes to you and that they are struggling with something, try to not get defensive. Instead, be curious to understand why that person is feeling the way they are. 

It is time for us to get real comfortable with being uncomfortable. Then, we can take sincere steps forward.

Haleigh Callison is an Indigenous woman from B.C. working as a lumber trader and cedar specialist for Olympic Industries.  She has recently completed her dual Executive MBA through Cornell & Queens and is passionate about helping to build others up, be seen and amplify voices that are not always heard.

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