Tuesday, 4 October 2011

What works and what works best. (What's it all about, Alfie?)

In the 1970’s I learned a lot about human motivation, human development and human behavior. I worked in schools, universities and hospitals. I learned about organizational development and how systems worked and learned why sometimes they didn’t work.  It seemed to me that a system worked because it was designed with the users in mind and involved them in the development and application process. A system often didn’t work because it was designed by those outside, was pre- fabricated, imposed and not tailored to specific needs.

If we are to succeed in our work and in our country, we must learn how to build collaborative energy, how to listen carefully to what is and what is not being said, how to ask questions that are penetrating and honest, how to discern the real from the superficial, and how to help a group move forward with a purposeful, shared vision. 
What has seven decades of learning taught me to understand and to appreciate, to celebrate and enjoy and to use most readily in my profession and my work?  I have learned most of all that it is about who I am, not simply about what I do.  I learned that there is an important distinction between my work and a job.  My work is my passion, what I care about the most and my job is what I have to do in order to get to my work.
My work has been with people, helping them to learn about who they are and how they can get closer to their dreams of what can be.  And it’s about becoming, that we are always in process of becoming more of a human being, not a human doing.  What I do is about who I am.  That means developing and growing our humanity, our human spirit and being in touch and in tune with the natural world such that we not only know who we are and what we’re about but that we place the highest premium on the sacredness of every person, starting with ourselves. 
We can learn the benefits of how to support each other, how to give what others need, and that may not necessarily be what they say they want.  I am reminded of the beggar on the street asking for money.  If his real need is for food or clothing or shelter, then give food, clothes and shelter, not just money.  The needs of the world are overwhelming but we can begin with each person we meet along the way.  At least, that’s what I have learned that works for me and a lot of others.

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