You never know what you’ll find when you read the label – all of it. Wanting to fuel myself with atypical airport food on a recent trip I was pleased to find a spot that featured GT’s Kombucha and a tasty black bean chili. It may sound like an odd combination, or zero appeal to you. To me, I felt like I was nourishing all of me. Then I read the label and I felt an even deeper sense of nourishment for my soul.
“How are you?” It’s a simple and powerful question.
I’ve been paying close attention to this question lately, and here are a few things I’ve found:
1. You have a choice in how you respond to this question.
2. You have a choice to authentically ask it of other people.
When we see change happening in communities, in organizations, in people’s lives – what is supporting that change to happen? What are the factors that cause change? We’ll be digging into that topic during the April edition of Creating the Future’s Making Change Program (live in video, recorded as a podcast). I’m honored and SO excited to join Creating the Future Co-Founder and Making Change Host Hildy Gottlieb, and Creating the Future Fellow Lisa Humenik to discuss creating change in and with communities. If you watch the live video, we encourage you to participate in the conversation via Twitter #ctfuture, or post comments to the blog page real-time. The conversation will continue after the live video as well.
Global corporations, government, public and private agencies, community benefit organizations, and businesses of all sizes and types have so much in common when we look at them in their simplest sense. However they are grouped and organized, they are all comprised of human beings, each individual being a community member.
When all the labels, categories, and org charts are removed, we can clearly see that we all want the same thing: A healthy, thriving and resilient community for everyone. When we are willing to remove our blinders and table our assumptions, we can aim our collective wisdom, skills, experience, passions and resources at building just that. The highest potential for any community will be reached when community members are engaged, valued, and feel a sense of belonging. The path to that is simple, yet so often overlooked. It starts with relationships. It starts with getting to know each other. By taking that essential time, trust is built. It starts when we are willing to dip our toe in the pool. And for those who are willing to cannonball off the high dive, we say “come on in!”
A song is playing on the radio, not coming in crystal clear and there’s a good bit of annoying crackles. You have two choices with two dials: Turn up the volume if you think louder makes the song clearer, or adjust the channel to find a better frequency. It’s no surprise that you choose the channel tuner dial. We know that louder does not make the song any clearer. Yet it is all too common to choose the volume dial when we want a response or action from someone.
“We need more board members!” is a common lament I hear from board members at community benefit organizations. The declaration is followed by:
“We used to have 10 board members and now we only have seven.”
“I’m tired of always doing everything, and other board members just show up at the meetings.”
“Our by-laws state that we must have 12 board members, so we must fill those spots.”
Collective Impact is a buzzword and framework formally defined as “the commitment of a group of actors from different sectors to coordinate their efforts and work together around a clearly defined goal” in Kania and Kramer’s Standford Social Innovation Review Collective Impact Winter 2011 article. Through their research, they identified five factors for collective impact success as: common agenda, shared measurement systems, mutually reinforced activities, continuous communication, and backbone support.
For me, these factors may be part of the means to achieve X. But what is X? What are the ends we are aiming for? Here’s what I find matters most in my community engagement projects:
Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines the sweet spot as the point or area on a bat, club, or racket at which it makes most effective contact with the ball. That long drive is the combination of many scientific and mathematical factors at play; all of which I’m sure I studied in Mr. Bross’ physics class. The moment you make contact with the ball in the sweet spot, you know it. There’s a feeling of strength, balance, and being centered.
When a recipe calls for marinating in the fridge for a few hours or overnight we follow the instructions. The process cannot be rushed. Slowly and naturally, the food absorbs whatever concoction in which we immerse it. But that step takes time, and it is simply time to be. The very same process applies to our own marinating when we allow ourselves to be. All too frequently this is overlooked or rushed. Immediate responses and feedback are often requested by others, or of ourselves, in order to get going on the doing machine.
Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage. – Anais Nin
The more courageous I am, the richer my life is. I am saying “yes” to new opportunities to engage, learn and share, aiming for what is possible with each one. Missed opportunities in life to say/try/do something are often stuck in our assumptions, perceptions, doubts and fears. What if all of “that” is one big untruth? Social Artist, fellow Creating the Future Fellow, and beautiful soul Deborah Loesch-Griffin revisits our usual response. Instead of digging in our heels, what if we consider leaning forward and dipping our toes in the pool of possibility? Then, rest back on our heels in reflection about how that new experience, approach, or thought felt. Wherever you are reading this right now, I ask you to try that and feel what those words mean.
It takes courage. It takes trust. It takes getting to know each other better. It takes time, but oh what an incredibly powerful investment of time. Everything is built on relationships, yet so often no time is invested in BEing together first.