When we have a spark of an idea in our lives and work, it’s easy to do so with bubbling enthusiasm and a head over-full of things we want to do. It quickly gets overwhelming.
One thing I’ve learned in my career, as I’ve tried thing after thing, is that when you keep a beginner’s mind, it’s hard to fall into the trap of being a know-it-all (or a paralyzed perfectionist). Beginner's mind keeps you curious, experimental, and firmly in learner mode, because you are very aware of all that you don’t know. A beginner's mind gives you the freedom to try everything.
Over my last six months in the Lupton Center, I’ve treasured having a beginners mind each day. On client calls when I’m helping others to problem solve in their community, I’m learning so much about what is possible.
I’ve found myself learning anew that big change starts with regular people and small steps. Our clients have taught me about the possibilities of what community development can look like and who can start it.
Community development comes in so many forms! I’ve talked to people who are building parks and green spaces. Others are working with refugee communities. Some are partnering with people experiencing homelessness, while another group invests in a local trailer park. Community development and neighboring vary as much as communities do.
At the Open House a few weeks ago, I saw many ways that people’s hearts and minds are pulled or called to serve in their contexts. I never would have dreamed of some of their initiatives. Every neighborhood brings its own unique flavor to the community development process.
As I’ve learned about the spectrum of shapes community development takes, I’m witnessing the different scales it can occupy, too. I’m reminded that a movement can start with just one person, one couple, or a few families who agree to set out and partner well with a community. I’ve heard from more than one “tiny church with big ideas.” I’m in awe of what determination and love can germinate.
As I move forward in my role, I’ve been reimagining and reminding myself what it looks like to start small for my team. As an ambitious person, it’s easy for me to spiral into wanting to do everything all at the same time.
At the Lupton Center, I’m choosing to focus on doing those things that seem small, but are helping me build out a movement of community developers all over the world. My small piece, and others’ small pieces, come together to show the world a better way of being in community.
Whether I’m on a consulting call, writing a newsletter, or meeting with people who want to make systemic change over the long haul, I’ve been grateful to remember the impact of taking small, consistent steps in the right direction over a long time.
What’s the small thing you can do today to make change?