It’s This Thing Called Change

Dear Courageous Leaders,

Like many, in the unfolding story of the “Great Resignation,” I’m navigating a few major changes in my life.  

I’ve said farewell to a 20-year career in our educational institutions, to an organization whose mission resonated with my soul, and to colleagues with whom I’ve celebrated and mourned so many life events.  I am grieving these goodbyes.

At the same time, I’m welcoming a myriad of new vocational experiences—new relationships to build and nurture, teams to contribute to, problems to solve, culture to learn, and politics to navigate.  I am thriving on these learning and change opportunities. And they can be exhausting.

Over time I’ve discovered that one of my strengths is the ability to hold true two seemingly contradictory positions, perspectives, or emotions, and use this to generate insights, understand a more expansive big picture, and discover common interests in the intersections.  Much of the time this ability, along with a disposition for operating as if everyone is “doing the best they can,” (Brené Brown, 2015) allows me to connect with diverse people in genuinely respectful and appreciative ways. While I can be angered, saddened, or disappointed by the actions of others, I have the emotional intelligence to process these feelings and be thoughtful about any response…most of the time.

The world as we have created it is a process of our thinking. It cannot be changed without changing our thinking.

I’ve also realized that one of the reasons I have embraced opportunities that are life-altering is because they feed my voracious appetite for learning, and these changes, while hard, challenge the unexamined assumptions and perspectives I hold about myself and the world.  I think it is too easy to judge motivations and actions when I don’t stay curious about who we are, what constrains and inspires us, and what has shaped our assumptions and perspectives. Being immersed in a new environment fuels my intention to stay curious about the whys that guide others and discover what and how I might offer support and development.

I am often reminded of how my roots as a teacher still shape my leadership. The skills I developed to connect with a very diverse classroom of learners, with differing motivations, life experiences, skills, and knowledge now serve me in a new role as I build new collaborative relationships and community.   I understand how learning occurs differently for all of us, and can use my background in teaching pedagogies, universal design, and scaffolding to seed ideas, nurture ideation, and inspire new passions and directions. I delight in discovering the diverse strengths and talents of those I work with and feel I have contributed when I can amplify opportunities for those on my teams to apply their unique combination of strengths to their every-week work.

But change can be exhausting! It can trigger a rollercoaster of emotions and require intense focus and time. I’ve found I’ve needed more time to unplug from the world and lose myself in some re-energizing activity (yes, even sometimes watching “mind-candy” shows). I’ve had to hit pause on many of the commitments I used to show up for because my change management and learning curves are so steep right now, I feel like my car gasping its way up La Bajada Hill on the way to Santa Fe. 

Before I hear anything else about triumph or achievement, this is where I want to slow down time so I can figure out exactly what happens next.

In this change-accelerated era, the potential impact on our personal psyche and well-being is staggering. I believe we all need to determine how to slow down our lives and create spaces for rejuvenation. As I work on that myself, I must grant myself some grace in knowing I’m doing the best I can to navigate all life sends my way.  

Still walking my learning journey,


Questions I’m Reflecting On:

What change has triggered examination of my beliefs and assumptions? 

How will this change me?

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