Weeknotes 3 — Togetherness

Week commencing 15th February

My recently updated email footer.

This week a few things happened which were a strong reminder as to why I love the work that I do. With that came the reminder that the problems and the challenges we work on will never go away, they will change and they will morph but it can be easy to feel overwhelmed with the sheer scale.

Not long ago in a conversation about ‘changing the world’ someone reflected that one individual cannot change the world’. Initially I felt saddened by this reflection but what I realise is that now I see the truth in that statement — alone one individual cannot meaningfully and sustainably change the world. But by working together I believe people can.

I think maybe that’s what I was subconsciously trying to say in a small way in my updated email footer which now reads:

I’m managing childcare alongside work currently — therefore I may need to email outside normal working hours. I respect your working patterns, so don’t feel the need to respond until you are ready. These times might feel tough, but together we can do it.

What I’ve been working on:

  • Took part in a retrospective session on Beyond expertly led by Duncan at Shift. Felt like a key moment to come together as Shift start to wind down their work on Beyond and DOT PROJECT start to ramp up. I’m continuously noticing that different work rhythms and project pressures affect teams and individuals differently.
  • Started to support partners on Beyond plan for their sessions — in particularly been supporting Eva at AVA Project and Hera at Chayn. Looking forward to seeing what emerges out of this partnership as safeguarding has repeatedly cropped up as an immediate and critical need within non-profits.
  • Supported Helen to deliver two roundtables as part of the Catalyst Clusters work — this was deeply moving and the following two reflections struck me:
  • Quote from mental health round table: this is the calm before the storm, we are preparing for a mental health pandemic as a result of the experiences people have faced during the COVID-19 pandemic
  • Quote from sexual abuse and domestic violence round table: this is the perfect storm and we are expecting the problem to get far worse before it gets better.

What’s gone well:

  • We’re planning a new project with Options and had an initial kick-off call this week — I feel this went well and I’m really looking forward to this project, the international development sector feels like home for me.
  • For me the Beyond retro session was an important touch point to understand where we are at as organisations and how we are working together (and how we could improve). Repeatedly we’re hearing that the principles we developed together are helpful in holding the messiness of collaborating at such a tricky time.

What’s been challenging:

  • Bouncing from project to project and context switching. I basically only feel about 75% present which doesn’t feel fair to my team or myself. I have articulated this a few times this week — essentially saying to team members I don’t feel ‘with it’ this week so please say if you think I haven’t fully understood something or if you need me to support in a different way.
  • Probably linked to the above I accidentally had my toddler vaccinated for chicken pox this week. I know that sounds ridiculous. Navigating health care in a different language can be quite difficult. I have this book which tells me when to visit the paediatrician, and it was time for the next vaccination. During the strict lockdown in Madrid it was almost impossible to book vaccinations — I had to fight quite hard to do so (and I’m worried about outbreaks of other diseases as a result of missed vaccinations). The experience of health facilities during a pandemic I find difficult too — it’s so rushed and I feel preoccupied with cleaning hands as it’s impossible to stop a toddler touching everything. So basically I trusted that whatever vaccination ‘varicela’ was my daughter should have. It’s not a huge deal and I’m so grateful for a very safe whatsapp group of mothers I’m in as when I shared that this had happened a number of other mums shared that the same had happened to them. So there’s something in knowing that you’re together in a mistake.

What I’ve been thinking about:

  • Everything in this playbook from Outlandish — I can’t wait to read in more detail.
  • The Beyond principles and why the seem to resonate (I don’t know the answer to that q but here are the principles). Although what people have said is useful is examples of how the principles might look as behaviours (we have these behaviours as bullets under each principle in the long version).

#1 We are practical — we focus on prioritising how best to use our time and organise ourselves

#2 We are curious — we ask questions about our approaches and explore situations from different perspectives

#3 We actively listen — we pay attention when others are speaking, or communicating, to truly hear what they are saying

#4 We are focused and clear — we state our intentions and ensure any actions, responsibilities or deadlines are clear and understood

#5 We are mindful of our context — we recognise that we are working together in a pandemic, therefore things will happen differently to how they might usually/how we might want them to play out

How I feel: inspired