Remember that old saying about not being able to see the forest for the trees?
I was reminded of that last week, as we stepped away for a couple days of a working retreat.
As we approach the end of Braid’s fifth year and some significant decisions about how we organize and expand, Chris and I needed to spend some time reflecting on the essence of Braid: both what we originally hoped and intended it to be, what it has actually grown into, and its potential for the future.
Though there is plenty going on in day-to-day operations that demands our attention, we (and by ‘we’ I mean Chris) at least had the good sense to know that this conversation needed to take place in an environment outside our office.
We also had the good sense to invite other voices to the conversation, including Wendy Cliff, who has facilitated the first Braid team. We also invited someone to facilitate the conversation, a colleague who is supportive of the mission of Braid but who hasn’t been actively involved in its work, and whom we could trust to ask open and honest questions.
This combination of a place apart and a caring moderator with a bigger view proved to be incredibly powerful for my own reflection.
I think I can speak for Chris as well in saying that we both came away with insights about Braid that felt new, even though we founded this organization and have been intimately involved in every aspect of its growth for several years.
One primary recognition was that we want to hear more from our volunteers about the meaning you are making in your weekly interactions with your youth and within your teams. These weekly meetings are the heart of Braid, and we know there is much more to learn from you about how this work has shaped you.
We know that many of these insights are shared naturally during teams’ regular check-ins with each other, and with members of other teams as we gather for volunteer dinners and All-Braid events.
But I also learned this week that to truly have insight into anything – especially something you are close to – sometimes you have to take a step away to really be able to see it.
Sometimes you need the prompts and interest of someone who isn’t totally immersed and can see the bigger landscape.
Sometimes you need to be pulled away from trimming each tree’s individual twigs to see the forest you have cultivated.
So this year we will be creating more opportunities for all of us to help each other look around, and look inward, in deeper ways. We look forward to harvesting these insights together!