On August 15, 2019, I gave the keynote address at the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits Essentials Conference. I've pulled the content from that speech into a series of three blog posts on change.
So, if change is constant and you don’t actually make change, that means we need to move from a perspective of making change to creating the conditions for change to happen. This is going with the flow of change. This is doing the honeybee waggle dance. How do we do that?!? What helps us effectively ride those rapids?
Some of these tips come from my own experience, and others come from some of my favorite sources on this topic including Emergent Strategy from adrienne maree brown, Dare to Lead by Brene Brown, Leading From the Roots by Kathy Allen, Active Hope by Joanna Macy, and from an organization called Biomimicry for Social Innovation.
• Start small: adrienne maree brown says “Small is good. Small is all.” Things don’t scale immediately. It takes time. My work has actually moved from working on large scale capacity building projects to working one-on-one with people through coaching or with cohorts of leaders. A pearl starts with a single grain of sand. What is your grain of sand?
• Trust people: Easier said than done, right? But funny thing about trust, that it’s much more of a self-fulfilling prophecy than not. Rather than waiting for people to prove themselves trustworthy and then we give them our trust, if we trust people first, they tend to become trustworthy. That takes vulnerability and courage on our part. That relational way we need to create conditions for change to happen? It requires trust. Especially if you find yourself feeling resistance to the rapids, remember to trust.
• Relationship before task: One thing that builds trust is to build relationship. I know. We’re talking about work. And I’m telling you that before you do the work, you have to build relationships. This does not mean you become best friends with your colleagues, but riding the rapids is more fun when you’ve got other people in the boat with you.
• Always lessons, never failure: Every single thing that happens, every rock you run into on those rapids, every time the boat flips, none of this is failure. It’s only an opportunity for you to learn. What if you saw everything as an opportunity, rather than a problem?
• Use emotional intelligence: Remember what I said about our resistance to learning from disruption is often about fear? Well, fear is our amygdala telling us to run or to fight. And we have developed deeply ingrained behaviors all the way from childhood on how we react when faced with fear. Emotional intelligence helps us realize what fear feels like, how to recognize it, and how to create a pause so that it doesn’t take over our brains so that we can be in the moment, stay present, and keep going.
• Assume abundance: Many of the reasons we try to force or control change within organizations because we believe that we have scare resources in order to make it happen. But, if we assume that we, our partners, our organization have abundance - of talent, knowledge, innovation, ingenuity - then our job is not to hoard it, but to unleash it.
• Rest: Tap out to tap back in. It’s ok for it to be someone else’s turn for a while. It’s ok. It’s ok to disengage so that you can re-engage. Self-care is a radical act. Then the most radical thing you can do is nurture yourself.
Read Part 1 and Part 2 of this series!