Several years ago, when I was in the thick of major organizational shifts at COCo, I came home one evening in a fit of tears and with a back full of knots. I felt horrible about how things felt at work and frustrated that my attempts to move things to a better place seemed to go nowhere. Feeling completely stuck and disillusioned, I asked Rennie to give me some advice. Any advice. I didn’t care what it was. I just knew that I needed a fresh perspective to knock me off the treadmill of anxiety-based solutions that I was on.
What he said next changed everything. “Forget about the organization. COCo doesn’t matter. Just focus on the people. They are the organization.” As he spoke, I remember feeling a wave of clarity and relief wash over me, a sudden lightness.
I realized then that I had been attaching way too much meaning to the organization as an abstract entity, forgetting that it lived inside of us, not the other way around. And that I needed to come back to what was really alive, important and beautiful at COCo- the people. And that meant really taking time to understand and appreciate them as they were, not as I thought they should be in service of some grand vision of organizational transformation.
I was reminded of this moment, when reading Patricia Thompson’s paper. She talked about the simple, but powerful, practice she learned from Parker Palmer’s teachings- “when the going gets rough, turn to wonder.” It’s an easy stance to forget, especially when things get difficult, but it is one that I keep returning to.