All Aboard the Kindness Revolution

Shola Richards
Shola Richards

Shola Richards, a self-described “kindness extremist,” has heard the stories of verbal and physical assaults against nurses. When he delivers the keynote address at Emergency Nursing 2023 on Sept. 22 in San Diego, he will share not only encouragement but also tools to empower others to join his mission of eliminating incivility in the workplace.

“The most common concern that I’m hearing is that people are becoming meaner,” Richards said. “[Those] challenges are too difficult to handle alone, and that’s why building psychologically safe communities, where we are free to be real about our fears and our frustrations, can make a world of difference.”

Richards understands how incivility can take a toll: About 17 years ago, a toxic, abusive work environment left him feeling so disconnected and in such a state of darkness that he tried to end his own life. That was his wake-up call. Since then, Richards has committed to rebuilding himself and helping others rebuild their workplaces with a culture of kindness, compassion and interconnectedness.

His work is grounded in the concept of Ubuntu, a word common in African cultures that can be translated to “I am, because we are.” Through his Go Together Global enterprise, speaking engagements, books, Go Together Movement email series and even testimony before the U.S. House of Representatives, Richards’ mission is to empower people to make their workplaces more civil and remember their shared humanity in all they do.

Richards’ audiences are varied, but following each keynote he has delivered since 2020, he said one of three things has happened immediately: an attendee has shared they have attempted suicide, they have lost a loved one to suicide or they are contemplating suicide.

But there are silver linings, too.

“I have heard from numerous people who have kindly let me know that my books or my talks have helped them to find peace in a challenging workplace or gave them the tools to vastly improve their work culture,” Richards said. “That will never get old for me, and I’m deeply grateful that my work is making a positive difference.”

Richards said he’s honored to address the emergency nurses at Emergency Nursing 2023, in part, because of his personal experiences. Years ago, Richards witnessed emergency nurses save his father’s life, and, as a former college basketball player, Richards had his own share of trips to the ED.

“I’ve been awed by watching how emergency nurses handled the numerous complexities, challenges and risks of being the first line of defense against the COVID-19 pandemic,” Richards said. “I honestly don’t know where we would be without the dedication of emergency nurses, and I’m so pumped to have the opportunity to speak with them in September.”

Register Today for Emergency Nursing 2023

 Registration for Emergency Nursing 2023 is still open! Level up with ENA and thousands of your emergency nursing peers in sunny San Diego on Sept. 21-23. Attendees can look forward to immersive experiences with hands-on learning opportunities, high-quality sessions, networking events and can’t-miss celebrations sure to propel their careers onward and upward.