How to Approach New Opportunities for Growth
Last weekend I attended a conference on community networking for the city I live in. “How can we make our town a healthier place?” asked the guest speaker, Dr. David Rakel. Great question! Everyone in the room was there to contribute focus, time, and resources through our non-profits and volunteerism to affect. I was there for youth advocacy and being curious about opportunity and belonging. Others were there for transportation, housing, and connection. Each of us were there to make our community better with the talents we offered. What are we focusing on? “That which you give your attention to, grows.”
How are we growing our purpose, passion, and community? Where we place our focus is where we grow. It is natural to look at a problem and try to “combat” it. This approach places focus on growing more of what you don’t want. This networking conference dared us all to ask, “Am I growing problems or opportunities? Creativity or one-way thinking? Many ideas or a monoculture?” I love the language of hope, connecting talent, experiences, and laughter. When I am sharing laughter and stories of belonging, I’m growing the right stuff. Here are four new approaches to opportunities for growth:
How can I look at things differently?
Part of change is having the ability to look at things in new ways. We are conditioned by our experiences to see things through our own filter. My friend, Yoli who is from Venezuela, sees many inter-generational opportunities. When we talk about youth opportunities, she brings retired community members into the conversation. She brings that perspective from the multi-generational home she grew up in. By contrast, my grandparents lived hours from my home growing up. My focus with youth therefore is on experiences, making family with whom you choose, and giving space to hear many voices. Having people with diverse backgrounds on your team brings multiple perspectives. Each have meaningful ways to connect in your work together. I see how much richer my approach is by learning from Yoli’s perspective.
How diverse is your work or social life?
What is one way to look at something in a new way?
Seeing is not always believing
Perception may not be the way things really are. Looking at things differently means to imagine you don’t know everything about something and be curious about the topic. Dr. Rakel talked about waves and particles in the science of light. If we view a light as a wave, it stays a wave. If we measure light as a particle, it collapses into a particle. I think the way we view things can be similar. We see things the way we want to see them. Curiosity can change our perception of reality. I wonder, do I see with hope, or collapse in despair? Do I view this as a problem or an opportunity? What we believe about something to be true often makes it so in our mind. I have science on my side, and I choose to see things with diversity and many choices. This is how individuals, groups, and communities are finding solutions.
What do you believe about your situation or relationships?
Is there another perspective you can explore?
“Genius means little more than the faculty of perceiving in an unhabitual way.” — William James
Shake it Up
I liked the metaphor Dr. Rakel gave around trying something new with our neuroplasticity. “It’s like sledding on fresh snow. It takes a few runs before you can glide smoothly.” It takes concentration and getting off auto-pilot to do something differently. This is the opportunity for communities to wonder about long established processes and offer new ideas to move with change. Internally, it takes looking at what systems we choose to use. Once we know what filters we employ, we can decide what stays and what no longer serves us. Offering wonder to the mind as a filter can look like stopping to ask, “What is truth?” “How do I perceive this?” “What’s possible? What’s easy?” Shake up what we’ve always done and something new can emerge.
What can I let go of to embrace change?
What are we willing to Change For?
Dr. Rakel asked, “What are we willing to change for?” Rakel suggested that change can take a spiritual anchor to ground our new goal and idea. A spiritual anchor can lock into a positive outcome rather than the focus being on the effort of change. A study showed that having a goal of quitting smoking among veterans worked far more effectively with an anchor idea beyond the cigarettes. “I’m quitting smoking to be able to play with my grandchildren.” The veterans chose a trinket that represented their anchor, placed it in their pocket and touched it when they felt tempted. I’ve got rose quartz in my pocket to remind me that my efforts are for 7 generations of change. I’m placing my attention and love on what is outlasting for our future children in our community.
What is an anchor you can choose for the change you desire?
Let me know what you think. Did you find a new way to approach an opportunity for growth?