As usual, my day of many meetings was not as dreadful as I thought it might be, although it was more tiring than I expected. We had our first work meeting at 9 a.m., and I finished my last meeting with my church's Council at 8:30 p.m. Let me reflect on some things I learned, and I'll try to organize this post from least profound to most profound.
--Again and again, we talked about how user-friendly our new phone system is, as again and again, we had training sessions--or were they simply discussions? I was unsure. Still, if we had adopted a truly user friendly phone system, we wouldn't even need to bring it up. It would be a seamless transition. I have now spent several hours of my life in discussion (or more accurately, listening to discussions) about our new phones. They're just not that interesting.
--We had a training video on fire prevention. I expected not to find this as fascinating as I did. Who knew that so many substances can burn? I had no idea that fire extinguishers could be filled with as many different substances. I realize that you may read these sentences as snarky, but I'm actually sincere.
--I realized how hard it is to change the direction of an organization. How do you talk about where the company needs to go without making long-timers feel discounted? How much should the past inform our current decisions? How do we talk about the future without dwelling too much on the past?
--It can be done. I ended the day in a Library Committee meeting, which was the best school meeting of the day. We will not have as much library space in the plans for the remodeled building. One of our long-time colleagues reminded us that when the library moved to its current location, it lost space during that move too. And yet, we've come to see that space as more beautiful and perfect than the old space. It's good to remember that what may seem like a blow can come to be seen as a boon.
--Throughout the day, I thought about how long I've known most of these people. I started working at my current organization in January 2002, and I'm still in close relationships with many of those colleagues that were there at the start. Even some of those who have retired or otherwise moved on--I still meet them for lunch or coffee occasionally.
--I am lucky that a work day of meetings that could have been grim was a day of laughter and strategizing and being with people who believe in each other.
--I ended the day with a Council meeting at my church. We have some building issues, and we sorted them out and came up with a plan. It's exhausting, taking care of this building. And yet, we're a good team. I feel fortunate.
--That's the feeling that kept returning throughout the day: I am so fortunate. I have colleagues at work and at church who are more than colleagues. I am so lucky that I get to work with friends. I am so fortunate that my church Council experience is one being part of a team, and more than a team, a group of friends who are committed to something larger than ourselves.
--Yesterday reminded me again and again that I am not alone. I am part of communities that may seem fragile at times, but are really more robust than I can articulate.
--The benefit to these kind of communities is that they make us stronger, both as groups and individuals. For example, at the end of our Library Committee meeting, a friend and colleague reminded us that it's still relatively easy to have a textbook published if there aren't already lots of textbooks out there on the subject. I know that I'll be talking about these possibilities with at least one friend in the weeks to come. And we've got a resource in our textbook writing friend and colleague who is happy to share what she knows.
--And now, as we get ready to celebrate Independence Day, let us think about all our communities and larger institutions. How can we strengthen them and make them more vibrant? How can we be more like the founders of a nation than prisoners of low expectations? How can we renew our hope?
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