August 06

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Week 4: Spinning Your Wheels in a New Direction

Inspiration eluded me for the appropriate metaphor to explain our progress this week.  Pressure mounted as each day passed. People asked “what’s the theme this week?,” which by Friday turned into, “hey where’s your post for the week?” Patiently I waited for the right explanation; I had some dim ideas, but none fit exactly into what we accomplished that week.  Finally, like the result of all good procrastination efforts, the brighest lightbulb turned on in mind at the final hour – at 6pm on Friday –  in my weekly unwind yoga routine, with my head inverted in wheel pose.

I’d seen room after room of yoga-yuppies roll themselves up into the wheel with ease, and before tonight I’d always just watch and opt for the easy modification. I’d take comfort in my inner voice, “I just don’t do that pose.” That’s now how I do my yoga practice.” “I do my yoga differently.” “The way I do it is best for me.” I gave no thought to when they first began the wheel; I’d somehow assumed the they always did it. That was their way. For months I’d gone through what I thought was a good routine, without bothering to give a new one a try. What stopped me? Fear of falling? Fear of failing? “I simply don’t have the strength; it’s not fear is physics!,”  I’d rationalize.

This Friday night, at the final hour of the workweek, without giving it a second thought, rather than watching or rationalizing,  I was doing. Hands at my ears to guide me, legs planted to root me, up I went, suddenly staring at the room upside down from a whole new perspective.  Every yoga-yuppie surrounding me on all sides floated above the ground inverted, flexible, opened. All awkwardly exposed, yet simultaneoulsy comfortable and calm. Row after row of people, including me, flipped challenge into accomplishment, and discomfort into ease. Without overthinking it I overturned my mind and my body, and I loved it.

At Ed Fund this week we all faced new ideas or expectations that we had never faced before. We started to build our projects. Instead of a series of poses arranged into a yoga practice, it was a project plan composed of a series of tasks.   As we came across a new idea or concept each of us glanced at the others, just as I once stared at the inverted yoga-yuppies. Thoughts swirled behind our eyes, “I don’t know what they’re talking about.” “I don’t know what that is.” ” I don’t use that.” “I don’t do that.”  “How do they know what this is?”   Our faces showed part awe and part intimidation looking at the new challenges ahead.  I had never had to find a creative way to earn a spot onto a principals’ meeting agenda. Cliff had never used powerpoint extensively. Nancy had never written an audit plan. Don had never used the TeamLab project portal.   Different new mental poses and contorted ways of working surrounded us.

Our ambitious and dedicated team did not hesitate, as I had done in my prior yoga classes. We braced ourselves and focused. Step by step we pushed ourselves into new heights. We didn’t over think it or doubt ourselves. We each watched, set a foundation, and flexed our learning muscles.

By the end of the week, we grounded ourselves in our pulse-poses.  I earned myself the slot to pitch the improvements to the Math and Science Coalition to the principals; Cliff is a powerpoint pro and mastered an amazing presentation. Nancy is set to kick off a well developped audit plan, and Don can aptly follow all of our projects in one place through Teamlab.  None of these things were ever before in our work practice. We may never have thought these postures applied to our working style. But without doubtful questioning or overthinking, we did it, and we loved it.  Each of us felt our sense of accomplishment, pride, and abiltiy. As we pushed ourselves into new skills, we expanded our awareness and empowerment potential. We gained a new appreciation for how to do things and what we are capable of. We had new perspectives of our work, and of ourselves.

It goes to show, when you flip your world upside down from time to time, it can change how you see everything.

Other people who have achieved new heights by turning their world upside down:

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