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“Transformation comes more from pursuing profound questions than seeking practical answers.”

Peter Block, The Answer to How is Yes: Acting on What Matters

Yesterday, I asked a friend and colleague who was feeling defeated what she thought would pull her out of that emotional space and put her back into a space of creativity and optimism. I can not know for certain how much time she has spent considering my question. I do know, despite being the person who asked the question, I have thought about it quite a bit during the past 24 hours.

Having built a career (dare I say, life) for myself in community benefit management, I believe that creativity and optimism is a requirement of the job. Of course, humanity rears its head every so often and I am dragged down by pesky things like perceived reality and societal culture. I also need to remember what can pull me back from the brink of limitation and defeat and return me to a path of optimistic faith. It can be easy to succumb to a futilitarian culture rather than remain steadfast in hopeful purpose.

I consider myself deeply fortunate because I am able to access the resources that feed me. I am blessed to be surrounded by and able to hear voices that declare our ability to create the future that we seek and change the things we see. I am grateful for the reminders of other writers, speakers, friends, and colleagues in the community benefit organization world. Recently, my energy boost came in the form of a simple sentence written by Hildy Gottlieb, author of The Pollyanna Principles.

“When we change the way we see things, things change.”

Each day we have the opportunity to act in fellowship and community with others. We have the opportunity to engage with others in making the decisions and choices that create our future. We have the opportunity to engage with others in the pursuit of those profound questions that can pull us away from a culture of doubt that so often seduces us. As Peter Block states, “We find ourselves giving in to our doubts, and settling for what we know how to do, or can soon learn how to do, instead of pursuing what most matters to us and living with the adventure and anxiety that this requires.”

My organization’s Employee Assistance Plan and some therapists may be inclined to encourage me to avoid anxiety. But is not the anxiety of realizing our community visions preferable to the anxiety of knowing that funds will be limited and finite and we will have to compromise our values? Why not spend our days “engaged in activities that work well for us and achieve our objectives?”

Rather than inundate ourselves with questions of “how?” we should shed our caution and embrace the adventure. Engaging with others strengthen our decisions and actions and, ultimately, our leadership. It strengthens our movements and from that, our futures. It gives birth to true transformation. As Hildy Gottlieb says, “When we change the way we see things, things change.”

Ifeoma Aduba,  AWP Associate Director

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