Happy half year

New Year’s Resolutions are such a drag. Every December 31st I commit to flossing my teeth every day and every year I end up doing this mundane task occasionally, but certainly not enough to be praised in the dentist chair.

Personal reflection in the middle of winter and at the end of holidays is not typically the best time for me to reflect on my successes of the year; too many Christmas cookies and money spent, and not enough kilometres run on the icy roads to feel good about myself.

I started doing half-year reflections at the end of June. At this time of year, work is usually less busy due to vacations, my freckles give me a bit of a glow and it’s easier to get those running shoes on in the morning when the sun is up.

Howard Jang from the Banff Centre taught me about lifecycles earlier this year, as part of the Cultural Leadership Program. He shared the concept from Susan Kenny Stevens and already I have used it a number of times with colleagues.

Professionally, it can be challenging to plot where someone else’s arts organization lies on the nonprofit lifecycle, but it’s really hard to look at where your own organization sits within the cycle.

A few weeks after learning about this resource, two friends and I decided to close our non-profit organization that we co-founded. We each poured hundreds of hours and money into a passion project, but its relevance to the membership had been waning for some time. Tears were shed once the final decision was made, but as I plotted our organization on the nonprofit lifecycle, I knew it was better to close on our terms and be honest with our members about the reasons.

I said repeatedly that we wanted to ‘go out like Seinfeld’, but that was a silly way for me to cover my sadness about our decision to end something that was important to me.

It’s easy to assess when other organizations are in a growth phase and what organizations are slipping into the terminal part of the cycle, but it’s really tough to plot your own passion work on that cycle. You have the ask the wicked questions and the answers can be devastating.

For me to personally exist in a cycle of growth and regeneration, I need to take risks that are unsettling and keep pushing myself. I find I take these risks in secret, as I am too ashamed to admit when I am not accepted to a fellowship, for example (twice rejected from the DeVos Institute program), or I didn’t master the headstand that I was so hoping to do by the end of June this year (not even close to getting my legs up yet).

My goal for the rest of 2019 is to keep in the growth cycle and to lead my team in a way to inspire creativity in an productive way. I have some ways that I hope to do this and I will report back to my colleagues on my success (or failure). I will also make headstand work a priority!

Thanks to Howard Jang for introducing me to lifecycles, the work of Susan Kenny Stevens, and for inspiring me to plan for another tattoo.


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