|In this Issue
In this edition of Transforming Challenges, Senior Consultant Maureen Gallagher offers insights regarding planning our journeys through life in her article, ” Planning for the Journey—Opportunities to Ask Important and Energizing Questions”
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The Reid Group News
- John Reid and Maureen Reid facilitated a team building retreat for the faculty and staff at Our Lady of Grace Catholic School in Castro Valley, CA on August 16th. The focus was on strategies for being an extraordinary team and on being more effective communicators and conflict managers.
- Tom Reid led a clergy study day for priests and deacons from the Catholic Diocese of Honolulu entitled “Self-Care: Living a Balanced Life” on August 25th. Tom’s presentation was well received by all who participated.
- Maureen Gallagher continues meeting with the Wisconsin Religious Collaborative as they further develop ways of working together, sharing resources and exploring possibilities of shared leadership and administration.
- Maureen Gallagher continues working with the priests of the four Waukesha, WI parishes as they organize themselves under one pastor for four parishes with a focus on meaningful collaboration and sharing staff across various ministries.
- Tom Reid and John Reid continue working with leadership in the Diocese of Trenton in New Jersey on implementation of Bishop O’Connell’s decisions that are part of the Faith in Our Future project. For more information on this initiative, please visit the diocesan website at www.dioceseoftrenton.org and click on the link to Faith in Our Future.
So as you look at your individual or organizational future, what are your challenges? Could you benefit from skilled support? Give us a call at 206-432-3565 or send us an e-mail to start transforming those challenges into opportunities.
Planning for the Journey—Opportunities to Ask Important and Energizing Questions
Planning is a means to an end. It is key to making successful journeys—whether they are journeys taken alone, with friends or on a tour with a guide. The journeys envisioned in this article are significant expeditions and may involve physical travel, or spiritual or intellectual or psychological movements, etc. Planning for the journeys will reflect the kind of journey we are taking and the kind of maps and guidance needed.
So often we think of planning as getting the details down, the specific action steps and obtaining clarity before beginning the trip. However, probably one of the most critical things we can do as we prepare for an important journey is to ask the right questions. This happens at a level we often don’t think about daily.
Journeys involve transitions. We begin a one point and end up at another—whether we are traveling from city to city or from one new understanding to another or from a significant loss to a desert moment, to letting go and ultimately to a sign of new life. Journeys embody movement.
Significant transitions can be experienced on several levels. Some are personal transitions: starting a new job, moving to a new location, becoming involved in a significant relationship. Some are communal transitions: taking on a new organizational focus, activating a new community, dealing with diminishing resources in a communal setting. Some important transitions are both individual and communal such as aging, dealing with health issues or family/community dynamics. Asking significant questions gives us a framework for a deeper understanding of life’s journeys. Our responses to the significant questions lead to our mission, our values and our vision for the journey.
Identity and Purpose: Our Mission
Asking some basic “big” questions can be rewarding , and cause us to discard some old assumptions. As our life unfolds we may answer these queries in different ways, given our experiences, and the events and needs of the community and the world.
- Who am I? Who are we?
- What is my purpose on earth? What is our reason for existing? What legacy do I wish to leave? What is our impact?
- How will my family, my neighbors, my community, the world be different because of the years I/we spent on earth?
Reflection on these questions will no doubt stimulate thoughts on many levels. Perhaps you will be stimulated by thinking about how you contribute to the energy of an unfolding universe, or how you are making a difference by working for peace locally, nationally or even internationally. Perhaps you see your reason for existing related to caring for the environment or providing for elderly neighbors, or hearing and responding to the cries of the poor. There are no “right” answers to these questions. The fact is that we do impact the world. What do we want our influence to be? How are we (individually and as communities) being called to contribute to the world, economically, environmentally, spiritually, communally and globally?
The danger of ignoring these questions and just getting into the actions we need to do daily to exist, is that we may succumb to a self-focus, a narcissism, a banality that is not ultimately life-giving and does not contribute to a sustainable world on any level.
The way we answer the questions above is based on our values. Human values are standards, convictions, beliefs, attributes that inform how we live and the decisions we make. They are so much a part of us, that we seldom stop to reflect on them or name them or appraise them. However, when we are challenged to make transitions on our life’s journey, reflecting on our values can be very enriching and can influence the decisions we make and who we become. Recognizing our interconnectedness with all creation is a consciousness that can guide our reflection on values.
People and organizations can grasp their values in several ways. The first is to think about what is important in life and then to reflect on the underlying beliefs leading to whatever is significant. So, for instance, if “developing warm, loving relationships” is a value, then reaching out to others and spending time with them will be an important part of who I am. If having a clean environment is a standard I try to maintain, then getting rid of clutter, not polluting, adopting sustainable behaviors will be part of who I am and the impact I want to have in the world. If honesty is an important value, then my conversations and behaviors will reflect that and be an identifiable part of my life. I will be a person of integrity.
A second way to reflect on values is to look back at some of the important decisions we have made and to discern the values that were behind them. For instance, twenty years ago I might have made a decision to move into a multi-cultural neighborhood, because I did not want my children to grow up with racist attitudes. Now I can see that the underlying value was deep appreciation for cultural and racial differences and the integrity to live out my beliefs. Or, perhaps, I cut back on the number of times we went out for dinner at a nice restaurant, and gave the savings to the local food pantry. My value was reaching out to those in need.
What is important, especially when we are making major decisions, is to be conscious of our values and how our decisions will affect our loved ones, the larger community and beyond. There is no one “right set of values.” Values reflect one’s experience, one’s gifts, one’s insights, one struggles, one’s beliefs.
Values influence decisions. Decisions affect relationships. In reflecting on values one might consider the question, “To what degree do my values reflect my concern for others?” Or, “To what degree do my values reflect my recognition of my interconnectedness with all creation?”
Mission and Values are inter-related and often flow from Vision and contribute to it. Vision reflects how we imagine the future. Vision also influences our decisions. Some visions produce caution and anxiety; others reflect energy and joy. In a life-threatening environment, my vision may produce imminent fear and motivate me to make decisions to save my life and the lives of those I love; or hearing the sufferings of those who have been mistreated my vision may drive me to join a group working for justice, so the ugliness of the injustice is removed.
In a less-stressful situation, my vision may impel me to make decisions about my own growth. I may decide to participate in new learning opportunities, or travel excursions, or enhanced relationships. Imagination is the energy that inspires me to dream of what could be. It stimulates me to make something wonderful happen. Vision gets me out of bed in the morning, when the impetus to stay under the covers is strong. While vision calls for imagination, that does not mean it is “pie in the sky” thinking; rather, it gathers information, shares ideas with others, begins to see what could be and ultimately to name what is evolving or emerging.
The process of “seeing” and “naming” embedded in mission, values and vision in the planning process leads to “acting.” Through goals, objectives and action steps, plans are implemented and completed. Articulating mission, values and vision provides opportunities to ask some of the most significant questions, garner value-laden responses and design practical steps for implementation. The responses to significant questions unleashes the energy needed to make a significant positive difference in our individual lives, our relationships, our interconnectedness, our communities and the world. A tool developed by The Reid Group which can aid you in the specifics of planning is called the Sustainable Future Audit and can be found in the resources section of our website at www.TheReidGroup.biz
. Or click here: http://thereidgroup.biz/faith/resources/sustainable-future-audit/
The Reid Group webinar series
October 18, Webinar Offering
Living Whole Life creator Tom Reid, a partner of The Reid Group, will be leading the webinar.
Save the date, details to follow.
At The Reid Group we help leaders and organizations transform challenges into opportunities to create a better world. We are proud to be celebrating 20 years of service to our clients as consultants, mediators and coaches.
The Art of Change: Faith, Vision and Prophetic Planning
Think about what your organization could do if the process of planning met the inevitability of change head-on—and it resulted in significant success.
Organizations large and small, religious and secular, for-profit and not-for-profit, successful and unsuccessful, go through change. John Reid and Maureen Gallagher of the Reid Group have been instrumental in helping many groups discover the power of Prophetic Planning. This book presents a complete overview with detailed information that any organization will find useful in understanding how to plan for change.
The Art of Change: Faith, Vision and Prophetic Planning, and its companion CD are now available from Liguori Publications as well as from Amazon.com.