I have been and continue to be a student of human motivation, human development and human behavior. I have worked in schools, universities and hospitals. I learned about organizational development and how systems worked. I also learned why sometimes they didn’t work. It seemed to me that a system worked because it was designed with the users in mind and involved them in the process of development and application.
A system often didn’t work because it was designed by outsiders or those not intimately involved. The imposed change was sometimes pre- fabricated, and not tailored to specific needs. People in leadership positions often thought that because it worked elsewhere it would work anywhere. They forgot about culture, context and collaboration.
If we are to succeed in our work, we must learn how to build collaborative energy, how to listen carefully to what is and what is not being said, how to ask questions that are penetrating and honest, how to discern the real from the superficial, and how to help a group move forward with a purposeful, shared vision.
What seven decades of learning taught me to understand and to appreciate, to celebrate and enjoy and to use most readily in my profession and my work is really one simple thing. Help others do their best work, help them learn more about who they are and how they can pursue their passions and get closer to their dreams of what can be. It is about becoming, that we are always in process of becoming more of a human being, not a human doing. It means developing and growing our humanity, our human spirit and being in touch and in tune with the natural world such that we not only know who we are and what we’re about but that we place the highest premium on the sacredness of every person, starting with ourselves.
We can learn the benefits of supporting each other, how to give what others need, and that may not necessarily be what they say they want. I am reminded of the beggar on the street asking for money. If his real need is for food or clothing or shelter, then give food, clothes and shelter, not just money. The needs of the world are overwhelming but we can begin with each person we meet along the way.
Think of the people with whom you interact every day and answer this question. How can I contribute to making this person’s life or work more meaningful, productive and fulfilling?