After some necessary prodding from the delightfully persistent Mike G, I am finally posting some reactions I had to Creating Change through Family Philanthropy. This is partly me calling myself out — one step towards being accountable to myself and others. But I digress. That’s not the place to start…
Creating Change through Family Philanthropy was my first formal exposure to RG, and it was a huge eye-opener. I knew that I would learn, and expected to be challenged in some ways. What I did not foresee was the sense of empowerment that I would walk away with.
The retreat was structured around creating a ten year vision, but of course the first step to long-term planning is to see the present with clarity and perception.
What I saw when I looked outwards — at those leading discussions, organizing the retreat, participating in the discussions — was energy, commitment, and passion. This enthusiasm was infectious, enhanced by an atmosphere of openness and trust. This energy was tempered – and strengthened – by the experiences that others shared of embracing their own humility, facing and overcoming a variety of challenges. The personal stories, and the sense of resolve that accompanied these, was a source of true inspiration.
But as with any opportunity for serious reflection on personal values, the retreat was perhaps most revealing in terms of what I saw when I looked inwards, reflecting on my own attitudes and actions. What did I see? I saw a history of interest and idealism that was not matched by action. I saw good intentions and noble ambitions, but, sadly, evidence that I was lacking the necessary set of tools (resolve? motivation? connections? knowledge?) to effect powerful change. That reflective space is uncomfortable, of course, in some ways. It isn’t always glowing, and it means looking beyond the comfort offered by stasis. And, of course, recognizing the opportunity to change means the need to accept hard work ahead. But the glass is half full with a sense of liberation, opportunity, and potential, and these are powerful antidotes.
As time flies by and weeks slip into months, I have to admit that I have not yet tackled much of the hard work of following up. However, I am confident that I will – partly because I have a new set of tools in the box, and partly because I have realized that I have a decision to make about whether I will work to be the person I want to be. The retreat reminded me that this is a choice I make each day through inertia or through action, and I think that this is the very consciousness that offers the hope for change.