Trapeze Swings As Transition
Last week I had the professional privilege of attending a workshop in coping with change in the workplace. The facilitator was excellent. She employed some great affinity building techniques with which I was unfamiliar, and best of all, she made everyone feel safe to speak up, mainly employing the Las Vegas meme: generalities OK, but specifics stay in the room.
The main point driven in the workshop was how conflict occurs during change, and it generally happens in the transition period. There are 3 parts: endings, middle, and beginnings. Opposite of what many go through.
Using this premise, I will use this to explore here not my worklife, but my volunteer work for John Edwards '08 and the One America Committee. But let's get to why I'm thinking about it.
The Washington Post published an article entitled "Out of Washington, Edwards Finds Worries Remain" about the aftermath of John Edwards as a politician. It was not an opinion piece, but one which extended an opportunity to JRE to be interviewed and to reflect on the direction of the country since he left the race and for now, public service.
Most of the article is about the attention he paid to poverty or the working poor, and how some believe it was a mistake, or perhaps it was disingenuous. I think it is safe to say that the die hard supporters were drawn to him because he wanted so much to do something very positive for those in poverty. Many of us had grown up in working poor families or had direct experiences with them either as classmates, federal government employees, social workers, teachers, librarians, lawyers, owners who had properties for Section 8 families, or nurses. He and Elizabeth listened to our stories.
To his credit, he jump-started initiatives to drive the conversation in how to have public-private partnerships in helping the working poor (something that Mary Landrieu has yet to prove to this blogger in the aftermath of Katrina). I think the JRE supporters and staffers knew that they were designed to be seeds of progress, but never to be sustained forever by the government, but instead models. When I see this disappointment from a woman who counted on College for Kids in Greene County, NC:
Among those who were taken by surprise was Lavania Edwards, no relation, a pre-kindergarten teacher who is still looking for help to cover the college costs of her son Malik, who graduated from high school last week. "We were really planning on that helping," she said. "I was disappointed and I wondered what happened in that they couldn't continue with the program -- or why no one came out to us with a definite answer. (source: WaPo)I am sympathetic, but I think Assistant superintendent Patricia McNeill was more realistic when she observed, " many had been bracing for the program's end once Edwards dropped out of the presidential contest." Bear in mind, it happened well after graduation that year, and the funding had been secured for those graduates. But I think Lavania Edwards didn't understand that it was imperative to stop the program when there were no other revenue streams coming in, and especially with an A-bomb (about the affair) about to drop. Yes, her dreams for her son from this program dried up, but there was no reason to pursue other options, such as Pell Grants, etc. And no reason for her child not to do his best anyway. Why: think about Barack and Michelle Obama. Our First Lady talks about this in the public schools in DC frequently. She is the First Mentor for many in our land.
And quite frankly, our Congress and President should do more. They aren't, which is what JRE opins in that WaPo article.
My thoughts when I see an article with a JRE interview that I am pleased about, and when he made it clear he was not interested in a PR campaign for himself to the media, I have to wonder, has he moved towards beginnings or is he still in the Neutral Zone? Do I think he said "goodbye" to Endings, meaning his potential for elective office are over? EE has acknowledged this concept as well, and her book is very much about this same topic. I understood that; the last week's workshop brought it more home to me personally as a guerrilla blogger: one of those originally selected by the campaign (and to help recruit the best) who asked me to blog (mainly debunk comments and posts) and wash the virtual walls of vitriol for the Edwardses, their visions, but also where I stand for things in the US.
I am in the Neutral Zone. It has taken me longer to move forward because of the semi-personal relationships I have with JRE and EE. As BW readers have seen, Elizabeth drops by here. She has only seen me once personally; other times we didn't get a chance to get to chat, but she did it online. With Elizabeth's book, and her interviews, in which I thought were somewhat controversial, I began to move towards a zone of understanding in which my volunteer life in political campaigns was not over, but needing to inch forward and to push others, just as JRE did in the primaries. JRE and EE are spot on about pushing the candidates and those elected to do what the American people want. And I have ,with my fellow JRE supporters. It is the best thing since Obama seems to encourage it, as FDR did, but we have to push harder with a media who is not interested in the ideas, with the story of the day.
I wish I could hug Elizabeth again as I did in 2006 and maybe, I will. I have a business trip to RDU next April, and a couple of supporters and I are discussing getting together to see her store, Red Window. If not, that first hug in Iowa was impressionistic, and I appreciated it so much. Sorry, no pics here, it was on JRE's blog, which has been stripped.
So, back to the swings as transition. I present BW readers with excerpts entitled "The Trapeze Zone" and I think the passage from Warriors of the Heart by Danaan Perry in that blog post sums it up in how I feel about today, my life, and maybe what EE and JRE are going through. I saw it in JRE's interview with WaPo, and why I think Benny's World will be valid for time to come.
"In that edge, all are faced with the often daunting question, “What will I do with the rest of my life?”In his book, Warriors of the Heart, Danaan Perry talks about this edge, which he calls the Trapeze Zone":
Sometimes I feel that my life is a series of trapeze swings. I’m either hanging on to a trapeze bar swinging along, or for a few moments in my life I’m hurtling across space in between trapeze bars.And so it goes. Not often can I say that I believe in politicians. At times, and EE knows this, that I disagreed with the Edwards team in campaign strategies. But that is leadership. And while Obama is providing some of it, I believe in the JRE/One America world when it is still presented to me.
Most of the time, I spend my life hanging on for dear life to my trapeze-bar-of-the-moment. It carries me along at a certain steady rate of swing and I have the feeling that I’m in control of my life. I know most of the right questions and even some of the right answers. But once in a while, as I’m merrily (or not-so-merrily) swinging along, I look out ahead of me into the distance and what do I see? I see another trapeze bar swinging towards me. It’s empty and I know, in that place in me that knows, that this “new trapeze bar” has my name on it. It is my next step, my growth, my aliveness coming to get me. In my heart-of-hearts I know that for me to grow, I must release my grip on the present, well-known bar to move to the next one.
John was asked about his campaign supporters in the interview, and responded this way:
Most of all, he wants his most ardent supporters to believe that the message that drove his campaigns was solid, despite all later revelations about the candidate himself.
"It was real, 100 percent real," he said. "I want them to be proud of what I stood for, and of what the campaign stood for. The stands were honest and sincere and idealistic. They were what America needed then and needs now."
Thank you, JRE for agreeing to the interview. BW readers miss you, but we will keep pushing forward in the transition, with a trapeze swing bar in hand, just as you are doing.