Last night, at a Child Development staff meeting, our staff team tried the new “Your Change Journey” tool from the Living Our Cause Tools and Resources.
I chose this activity because our team has seemed a little less joyful lately- I’ve heard some gentle complaints that aren’t really typical of our say-yes-to-anything group. I suspect that they might be feeling a bit overwhelmed by the number of changes that we’ve navigated since the beginning of the school year, and I hoped that talking about change in a positive way might help everyone feel more “in control” of what’s happening at our Y, and to feel recharged and excited for the last month of the school year.
When I introduced the activity, I shared that we would be spending about an hour writing about and then sharing a significant change event in our lives. There was some half-hearted grumbling when we started (it was 6:30 at night, the activity seemed to require a lot of writing, no one could think of a specific change, etc.), but we stuck it out (mostly, that meant ignoring the grumbling and waiting patiently through some awkward pauses), agreed to some ground rules about confidentiality and the “right to pass” if we felt uncomfortable, and got to work.
The activity asked us to think through the change in a very methodical way- we broke it down into stages and took notes about specific experiences at each stage. We had to think about the people who had helped and supported us, the aspects of the change that had scared us or excited us, and about our feelings and motivations through each stage. After about 20 minutes of thinking and writing, we chose a partner (someone who we don’t get to work with every day) and shared our stories. Not everyone felt comfortable talking- but everyone felt ready to listen!
There was some crying and lots of laughing, and the group discussion at the end got everyone talking about what had happened, what we had experienced together, and how it might impact our work. We brainstormed some of the changes that our families experience with us: Moms are trusting their children to a child care program for the first time. Families who have just moved to the area are meeting us as one of their first connections in a new community. Kids are getting ready to try something new, but feeling uncertain about what will happen. Thinking deeply about our own changes made us feel both more respectful of the life experiences that each member brings to us, and more confident that we might be able to help those members through their own change journeys.
Working through this activity together took most of our staff meeting- and we even ran a little longer than we planned (the conversations were really good!) I was nervous when we started- this staff team is finishing a BUSY school year, and we’re headed full throttle into camp. I wasn’t positive how they would respond to this activity at the end of a long day- so I crossed my fingers and trusted that our mutual passion for our work would help us.
It was a significant investment of our time, but we all felt like it was worth it at the end. Everyone left smiling and laughing together- ready to try anything!