Episode 1.10: Good Grief
THE PODCAST: JAN. 22 /19
HOW THE INSIGHT OF LOSS CAN COMBAT CYNICISM AND DESPAIR IN LEADING CHANGE
In episode ten, Tim and Tuesday talk to author and collaborator Kate Inglis on the parallels of how we can be light-keepers despite impossible loss as human beings, and impossible odds as change leaders.
Together, Tim Merry and Tuesday Ryan-Hart are THE OUTSIDE—systems change and equity facilitators who bring the fresh air necessary to organize movements, organizations, and collaborators forward for progress, surfacing new mindsets for greater participation and shared impact.
1.10 —— SHOW NOTES
Author and collaborator Kate Inglis reads a short excerpt from her new book Notes for the Everlost, reflecting on the randomness we confront when trauma or loss occurs in our lives. How does the shock of it all translate into wisdom for living?
The green light of finding meaning exactly where we are, as we are. How this drives change and banishes cynicism. When problems—grief, trauma, challenges—feel too big, we can feel too small to have an effect. All we can do is recognize how precious all our efforts are—even in small ways. The inherent value of life is in the trying.
Tim paraphrases a quote by Thomas Merton - ‘forgo all hope of results.’ Surrender and get to the real work, and build relationships that sustain your ability to be in the work. The arc of change is long, flowing over multiple generations—and we stand on the shoulders of multiple generations of change leaders.
Tuesday: The future we won’t realize, but that we work towards. Very present in the indigenous and black community: We may not bear the fruits now, but we plant them now.
“I am the hope and the dream of the slave.” — Maya Angelou
”The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.” —MLK
Kate reflects on nihilism as a freeing mindset, especially in regards to systems change work: “We think we know what the results need to be, but we don’t. My take on nihilism isn’t so much ‘nothing matters’, but ‘so what’—how do we move forward if everything is dust? How do we want to conduct ourselves in our lives to drop seeds? We make a difference by trying.”
Tuesday: Our structures say, What did you get done in six months? We constantly need to quantify our results. We are in structures that do not tolerate anything other than immediate impact. We can shift our mindset, but we are in structures that will not support that mindset.
Kate: In my writing about grief, I talk a lot about normalizing where you are—even in despair, we are where we need to be. The same goes for those moments of despair in our work. It’s normal to feel blocked. The trick is, how do we keep trying when we are in that despairing space?
Tim: The role of faith—not religious faith, but the faith to leap despite uncertainty, dysfunction of dominant systems, persistent failures, or the collapse of relationships. In that moment, do we retreat, to protect what matters (turf protection), or when everything’s gone crazy, is it faith that helps us muster up a more movement-enabling response? Leaping into the void is our job. How can we better sell that leap to the dominant system? And how do we evaluate the success of that leap?
Tuesday: I just realized why we like working with Kate—you work in the emergent at a cellular level. You speak to it and language it in a really unique way.
Tim recommends checking out the seminal piece that Kate helped us write: The Big Bang of Equity + Systems Change. Representing a collaborative effort to find new language to put down the root system of The Outside. This new language we have found positions us differently. Global organizations have reached out to us now because of how we show up, and we’re only six months old. And we’ve been doing this work for many years.
Kate: I was the Outsider. I am an ally and a cheerleader, but I am not in the work you’re doing. I am not connected to what you are connected to. I’m an island. In other organizations I’ve worked with, I’ve seen a paralysis of enthusiasm—everyone echoing each other but ultimately saying nothing meaningful to anyone outside that circle. But you’re so immersed, you can’t understand anyone being deaf to it. My job, as a writer, is to be an outsider. I don’t want to be immersed. I need the words I surface to bring in people who aren’t already bought-in. You’ve got to resonate to someone who really doesn’t get it. The words that feel comfortable to you, as the organization, are not enough.
Tuesday: Our field is known for being a bit woo-woo. How do we bridge between what is deeply emergent, evocative, experiential work and make it possible for people who haven’t yet been in the work with us get it?
Kate: Question the pull towards what feels like ‘authoritative’ language. What you think you need to sound like. What you think ‘success’ sounds like. When you get go of the façade of knowing everything as a brand or organization, you start edging towards your team’s human voice.
Tim: A professional presentation and story imbues what you’re doing with trust. They need to see the humanity behind your work, and only presenting well can deliver the clarity that sets up that humanity.
Kate: In writing and strategizing to inspire more people toward this work of equitable systems change, we need to balance the presentation of radical competence with the presence of heart.
Kate reads another short book excerpt on the metaphor of photographic composition—how white space makes room for clarity in our personal life stories as much as our movements.
Song of the day: Get Up, Stand Up by Bob Marley
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Find the song we played in today’s show—and every song we’ve played in previous shows—on the playlist. Just search ‘Find the Outside’ on Spotify.