Fruition Coalition: The Year in Review

Thanks for being a part of the Fruition Coalition in 2012!

At this time of year, I like to reflect on what has been accomplished. This year, the Fruition Coalition:

  • Was re-energized by the founding director (me) leaving the material and psychological security of my  full time job
  • Published 139 blog posts on The Activist’s Muse
  • Launched the Fruition Academy of Social Imagination and Action
  • Held two webinars: Teaching, Learning, and Transformation & Social Reciprocity…total attendance was 58 people in four countries on three continents
  • Temporarily suspended the Fruition Academy of Social Imagination and Action due to intellectual and financial sustainability concerns and therefore did not conduct the two webinars I was most excited about — Existential Leadership and Quantum Theory for Activists
  • Launched Le Salon Utopique, an online community for progressive activists
  • Worked with an intern from University of Maryland to organize the Changemaker Chat section of the blog (thank you Kerry!)
  • Launched the Social+ campaign to promote extending the idea of carbon neutrality to all of our micro and macro social actions
  • Completed two program development projects with local organizations

As for me personally (but in a professional sense), I:

  • Participated in three presentations at the International Leadership Association
  • Started blogging for Huffington Post
  • Experienced tremendous self-doubt and anxiety — which was at times freeing and at other times paralyzing
  • Learned to feel more comfortable with ambiguity and uncertainty
  • Tutored two students in statistics, revealing the need for simple, easy to understand statistics instructions which I have yet to find online or in textbooks (perhaps I can find a way make stats fun!)
  • Taught an Introduction to Fundraising class for the second time
  • Worked as a research assistant for an awesome, brilliant professor
  • Read a ton of amazing books and papers and added much to my reading list which now includes almost 4,000 books and several hundred papers
  • Narrowed down the topic for my dissertation, which is now looking something like the myths of social justice leadership
  • Did not for one moment regret my decision to make the major life transition to become self-employed, despite the emotional and financial challenges (“That which does not kill us makes us stronger” — F. Nietzsche)

Tomorrow, I will reveal the Fruition Coalition’s plans for 2013!

Looking back on the past year, what have been your highlights?

Social+ Updates

The Social+ Boutique has two new designs inspired by my beautiful, precious cats:

My dharma is to hear the birds singing

All we need is to breathe and be

My overriding goal for 2013 is to live an uncluttered life full of light. I am hoping that these simple messages will inspire all of us to focus on what is truly important in our daily lives.

You can save $10 off your order of $50 or more through January 2nd at 11:59 p.m. (Pacific Time) by entering promo code CONFETTI at checkout.

all_we_need_shirt

Feedback or Critique

Feedback represents audience response. It consists of statements through which participants or spectators take responsibility for their thoughts, feelings, and actions.

Critique, on the other hand, consists of complaints about comparisons with unmet expectations. Through critique, participants or spectators assert their power over the artist or teacher by instructing her or him regarding what to do differently. Different actions require adjusted thoughts and feelings.

I love feedback. I despise critique.

I have tried and tried to accept the advice that constructive criticism is helpful. I do not find it so. In fact, one negative critique of my first Fruition Academy class broke me down for four days. Four precious days of my life were wasted because I allowed someone else to have power over me. While I am open to accepting constructive criticism when I am in the role of apprentice or student –or when it is specifically solicited, I otherwise find it distracting, demoralizing, and dehumanizing. If I were to attempt to accept such critique and to allow it to change me, I would diverge from my true self both in concept and in countenance.

L3: Be Seen as Transparent

I can sometimes be a phony. I have good intentions, of course. I want to project a positive professional image and build others’ confidence in my ability to lead our organization. I don’t want to trouble others with the challenges I face on a daily basis. But by suppressing my vulnerability, I am reducing my ability to form genuine relationships with others and inhibiting their ability to just be themselves around me.

On the other hand, I can sometimes be in your face with the hard facts of life. I love pushing people through reality checks based on my interpretation of what is and what ought to be. This approach can alienate others, make them feel trapped in a hierarchical relationship, and reduce others’ trust in my ability to protect them and our organization.

Both approaches are a little extreme. Somewhere in the middle is an approach where we can be our genuine selves, open to freely giving and receiving dreams, opportunities, and love.

Rather than changing who we are to fit the mold of our organizations or to be closer to what we think others think we should be, we can safely express our needs, ideas, and concerns with those people with whom we have developed a sincere relationship. Our goal should be to develop such a relationship with as many people as possible, particularly in our leadership practice. Others will likewise feel more comfortable disclosing challenges and desires to you. Critical information should be shared both ways rather than hoarded or protected. The relationship is reciprocal, engaging, and trusting.

We should also create ample opportunities for staff and community members to interact with us – both in person and virtually. Be highly approachable by creating a system for intermittent communication and remain continually in touch with others on an ordinary basis through physical space, email, or social media.

It is helpful to be cognizant of how others perceive you to ensure you are truly representing the ‘what you see is what you get,’ responsive, and accessible leader you aspire to be. A periodic 360 degree formal evaluation can reveal areas for improvement. If there is dissonance between what you think and what others report, don’t be preoccupied with the results; simply use this information to education and improve yourself to the best of your ability.

When we are seen as transparent, we improve our relationships and our ability to work and play together. Admit your mistakes, share your hopes and dreams, and unveil your insecurities with those who trust and value your leadership. Offer them the opportunity to do the same, and respond with love and care.

The Tao of Political Leadership

“The female overcomes the male with
stillness,
Lying low in stillness.
Therefore if a great country gives way
to a smaller country,
It will conquer the smaller country.
And if a small country submits to a
great country,
It can conquer the great country.”
— Tao te Ching
How would a Taoist view influence politics and activism? Why are we so afraid to submit? Why do we allow fear to govern our private and public lives? Why do we grasp and cling to our ideas? What would happen if we let go?

The Othering of Me

As a Jewish student at an evangelical Christian university, I have learned a lot about myself. This experience has both strengthened my Jewish identity and increased my understanding of what it truly means to be part of the outgroup. During my first residency in September 2010, I sat in my car and cried during lunch. It took all of the strength I had not to drive home, abandoning my dream of pursuing a doctorate. Because of one bad experience that day, I continued to interpret every experience in the program through the lens of being a Jew rather than as a complete multidimensional person. Being the outsider heightened my sensitivity, and I had difficulty bonding with other students in the program.

Today, I consider many of the students in my cohort and the program overall as some of my most valued friends and colleagues. I hope that we have learned from each other over the years, and that we continue to see differences as opportunities to learn about each other and ourselves.

To them, and to you, I wish a Merry Christmas.