Get up and at it....but take care of the flock
A pretty momentous fortnight, or year I guess. Yes, the words I have to offer on the seismic shift in the global political sphere are inadequate. Others have done a far better job articulating the personal, local and global impact, and will no doubt continue to do so. But reflecting on the impact is unavoidably relevant to my work and purpose.
For me it has been a slow-burn; the sadness, fear and anger have taken a while to creep up, and continue to grow. Partly because I deliberately sought out those that I could have positive conversations with about making spaces for everyone’s voices and collaborating to create change for good. Consequently I feel more strongly than ever in my belief that the old ways of working are not working for people, communities and our planet. Thankfully, I see this view shared by so many others and, as Toni Morrison put with such dignity and power last week, I need to get up and keep at it:
"This is precisely the time when artists go to work. There is no time for despair, no place for self-pity, no need for silence, no room for fear. We speak, we write, we do language. That is how civilizations heal.
I know the world is bruised and bleeding, and though it is important not to ignore its pain, it is also critical to refuse to succumb to its malevolence. Like failure, chaos contains information that can lead to knowledge — even wisdom. Like art."
If we are going to keep making change happen, and doing things differently for social good – be that individually, locally, for our businesses or with the hope of impacting on a global scale – we have to pay attention to the how we are working together to make that happen.
The urgency of the project(s) is plain to see. But there’s a risk that that when we want to move quickly we fail to build firm foundations and consciously be the change we want to see. Spending time ‘designing in’ the focus on people, learning and growth, inclusion, communication and good decision-making will create better, more purposeful collaboration and ultimately success. It will take some time and commitment, but it’s not antithetical to being pacey, agile or responsive – all of the things many of us value in entrepreneurial and disruptive work.
Too often this ‘fluffy stuff’ is relegated to the side-lines as a ‘nice to have’ luxury that an entrepreneurial edge to a business, activist campaign or project can’t afford. I don’t see how we move forward without it. Embedding the how we work creates energy, enables people to confidently find shared purpose, work responsively, creatively and take responsibility to act. Time and again I have seen in my work that this is the best investment we can make; not only preventing otherwise inevitable and often serious issues arising from lack of clarity but also enabling impact over and above that which could ever have been envisaged at the outset.
And importantly, to focus on ourselves and our peers, colleagues and comrades will make us all way more resilient. Let’s be honest this is a very large rock, being pushed up a very steep hill, at whatever scale we are working to do things differently. There will be times when we are exhausted, when one knock-back is too many, when we can’t be present for a host of personal reasons and that’s when investing in ourselves and each other through how we work will pay off. I was reminded of this myself in conversation with Katie and Maria at Amity, “we need to nurture ourselves and each other to get the best out of us.”
And that’s when I think about the power of flocks.