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Less prep, more presence

by admin | May 6, 2019

by Colleen Masterson-Bzdok, Director of Capacity Building & Operations

I'm an ecologist, an educator, a parent and the Director of Capacity Building and Operations for Rotary Charities. From all of these perspectives, Adrienne Maree Brown’s Emergent Strategy got me thinking.

Emergent Strategy explores our ability to embrace change, build relationships and learn from the emergent patterns all around us. It explores the way complex systems and patterns arise out of a number of relatively simple interactions, and incorporates the concept of biomimicry – the imitation of systems and elements in nature when working to solve complex human problems.

Interestingly, Adrienne Maree Brown centers the book around nine core principles that resonated with me in relation to my role at Rotary Charities and my role as a mother, and inspired some deep reflection about my beliefs and actions in all areas of my life.

Some of the core principles fit naturally for me and were a reminder of what is important, particularly those focusing on relationships and trust. But two jumped off the page and served as a wakeup call for me: there is always enough time for the right work and less prep, more presence.

There is always enough time for the right work

 As someone who is always busy, it feels like there is never enough time - and I know I’m not alone. Every day, I interact with people that feel stretched too thin and who are overwhelmed by all that is on their plate. Being busy is worn as a badge of honor, and many of us have become resigned to the idea that this is just the way life is. This year, I’ve been diving headfirst into new learning about time management (which is really attention and priority management). I am realizing that while there will never be enough time for all of the things I want to do, I do have control over my time and I can create space for what is most important.  I am seeing real progress, and am optimistic about what lies ahead.

Less prep, more presence

Less prep, more presence? I love to plan! Spreadsheets, timelines, color coding - you name it. While planning and organization have value and have certainly served me well, I am recognizing that there is also a time to let go of desired outcomes and to be open to what might emerge unexpectedly. What might be possible if I could focus on the unique gift of each moment instead of worrying about what is next? With less prep, how much time could I free up to focus on what is truly important? This core principle has inspired me to learn how to be more fully present in all aspects of my life.

I have been amazed by the many examples of changemakers in this community that are learning about and embracing the core principles of Emergent Strategy, and I am looking forward to continuing on this learning journey together.

Nine core principles of Emergent Strategy:

1.      Small is good, small is all (The large is a reflection of the small)

2.      Change is constant (Be like water)

3.      There is always enough time for the right work. There is a conversation in the room that only these people at this moment can have. Find it.

4.      Never a failure, always a lesson

5.      Trust the People (If you trust the people, they become trustworthy)

6.      Move at the speed of trust

7.      Focus on critical connections more than critical mass—build the resilience by building the relationships

8.      Less prep, more presence

9.      What you pay attention to grows

- Colleen Masterson-Bzdok, Director of Capacity Building & Operations