Community building is challenging, heart breaking and heart expanding work. At this month's Master Minds Circle coalition members representing civic, school, government, parent, youth serving and business sectors across La Plata County shared why they do community building work and how they maintain positive outlooks amidst deadlines, budget cuts, project set backs, team challenges and many others.
The Master Minds Circle idea came from the Napoleon Hill's Think and Grow Rich business guidebook. “No two minds ever come together without thereby creating a third, invisible, intangible force, which may be likened to a third mind” said Hill.
What is your 'Why'? (Why do you do what you do?)
Here are a few snippets of what the 14 participants shared:
"I want to make a difference in Ignacio." - "Because the relationship between young girls and moms is so powerful and so much can be gained." - "I'm passionate about working with youth. I believe every kids deserves a 2nd,3rd,4th, even 5th chance." - "I realize the better we can link resources, the better we can support our youth." - "Because I get to live vicariously through all the programs and that is so energizing!" - " I want to help youth build their own assets and early understanding of themselves, so we don't have to work backwards." - "I'm passionate about using research and communication to support a wholistic approach to public health." - "I want to create stronger ties to prevention education, stronger conversation with students, show options for students' choices. I want young people to know that one poor choice isn't the end all be all." - "There is a need for positive role modeling. I got into this through adventure ed, which turned me around in my life." - "I always wanted to help people. I've been around marginalized communities and found stigma makes accessing health education difficult. I saw a need and wanted to meet it." - "I love the success stories. Lots of youth don't have opportunities and by connecting those youth to caring adults they can have all kinds of new experiences like having a book read to them or going fishing. I love to talk to parents and hear how their youth are growing." - "My work makes me feel connected."
What's the first thing you tell yourself when you get stressed?
"I tell my self this day will end and tomorrow is a new day!" "Like the Annie song, "The sun will come out tomorrow!"
One participant shared that she starts every day with 10 minutes of yoga and can really notice a difference when that isn't part of her routine. She recommended Jennifer Sincero's book as a great tool for recreating your "story" about your life so you can share the messages you want to. (Incidentally, the book is available at the Ignacio Community Library)
"I remind myself I am doing good things and work on the most beautiful college campus and can run the rim trail on my lunch break. Raising children helped me put things in perspective."
"Perspective is key. I remind myself of an incident in my life: a few years ago my husband died and out of surviving that experience, I was in this gratitude cloud, thankful for everything. Then at one point I had difficulty ordering a new collar for my dog and it made me upset. Now, I look at the big picture and don't sweat the small stuff...I tell myself: it's just a dog collar. "
"I can remember it's not all up to me; I can get present and be there and everything is full. Nothing is lacking in the connection, even when I have personal problems."
"I ask myself, 'Am I carrying more than they are?' I can't do all the caring if they don't care."
"The hardest thing for me is lack of control. A barrier to a goal which I can't overcome makes me stressful. So I focus on the small things, those things I can check off my daily list. I remember the larger goal takes time."
How do we avoid burnout in organizations and in ourselves?
"In my business we have collaboration meetings every 6 weeks. If we don't have a meeting, we get disjointed. It includes case studies and individual efforts. The meetings are at 7 am and even though nobody wants to meet at that time, nobody misses a meeting."
"Each person has to take a pause. I go for walks. Nothing we're doing is life threatening. Self imposed deadlines are rarely crucial."
"I stick my work phone in the drawer for the weekend. The work never ends so keeping boundaries is key."
"I try recognizing staff stress and encouraging staff to go out, go to the gym."
"I used to do workplace surveys. I discovered that the #1 stress was 'other' people. Whatever your role, it was interactions with other people that caused stress. A lot of times our stress is around how to navigate ourself around other people: cultures, envy, differences. This can disrupt how we handle the simplest things."
The group was reminded of the movie Inside Out (and highly recommended it for youth and adults):
The group recommended the following for team facilitation: Marsha Porter Norton-systems discussion; Victoria FittsSimmons or Robert Fitts, Naropa trained in personal coaching; Craig Holiday, a Buddhist approach; Phil Bryson, outdoor ropes course for teams and leadership training, and some form of assessment for communication styles.
"Our department got a wellness grant and decided to bring healthy snacks on Thursday. They also allowed us to take am and pm breaks with lunch if exercise oriented! We also discuss our cases weekly and get feedback from senior staff to have more options for dealing with clients."
"I remind myself that many of my most scary moments can become my best memories. You can do a lot more than you think you can. When all else fails, I like fishing. "
"It's important to seek help for ourselves, to recognize when we need to ask someone for help. Taking feedback from others is also valuable."
"We have a great EAP (employee assistance) program. I think there is a stigma about talking to a professional listener. We can have 10 appointments a year, and I try to go 10 times, that way I'm not bringing my stress home."
"At our team meetings we have a personal check ins before going to the work details. First we had to structure a safe sharing space where people could be comfortable to share wherever they are that day or pass if they don't feel like sharing."
"Laughter smoothed out some changes in my life I had to make in my life"
"Reminding others are that they appreciated is important. This can be a big kick off event or regular compliments... As we compliment our employees, they compliment us."
Next Master Minds Circle is December 15th from 11:30 – 1pm at the same location 175 Mercado St. (Three Springs Sales Office conference room, upstairs). You and anyone interested in being a part of community dialogue and solutions are welcome. Bring your brown bag lunch, chocolate provided.