more on that subject line in a second…
i got back in the office today after a most-of-a-week-long exec team retreat. great stuff. tuesday was all about strategic planning (for lack of a better term — i don’t really like the traditional concept of SP, and don’t think it makes sense in this day — maybe i’ll post about that sometime). wednesday was a very emotional update on how the five of us have changed in the past year. thursday was work — decisions, plans, stuff like that.
one of the things we addressed was the weariness of our staff right now. here’s part of an email i sent to our staff an hour ago, summarizing an all staff meeting we’d just had:
On our exec retreat this week, we talked about lots of stuff, which I won’t go into today. But one of the things we spent some time on was the general weariness of our staff right now. We identified that we’re at a unique spot in history, with these elements coming together:
· A year into our change process – lots (TONS!) accomplished; but a lot of staff who are tired
· Out in the middle of the river of change (as we talked about at our all staff meeting two weeks ago). I mentioned that I was surprised that, when I mentioned that I was starting to “see the far shore”, some of you responded that you couldn’t see it at all. That was a good wake up call for me – that we all have to step it up on talking about it.
· We’re experiencing sadness at our friends leaving (anca, andy, Susie, sarah)
· Yet, there’s this wad of new stuff about to kick into high gear. On one hand, that’s exciting; but for people who are already drained, that can seem daunting and disheartening.
[Pause – sidebar – story…]
Two weeks ago, my son Max and I went on a cub scout campout on Fiesta Island (a small island in the middle of mission bay). We camped on the beach, along with a handful of other scout families. The campground was right next to the San Diego Youth Aquatics Center (or something like that) – a place where scouting troups and schools and youth groups can come to learn things like canoeing, sailing and kayaking. That Saturday morning, as I was nursing a cup of coffee (that I’d driven to purchase!), sitting in a camping chair on the beach, I watched a group of about 20 asian teenagers (likely a church youth group) gather on the beach for some instruction, then get into a HUGE LONG canoe. They sat two-across, with about 10 or 12 rows. It reminded my somewhat of Olympic rowing, but was really a canoe (and they just had regular paddles). There was a woman from the aquatic center standing backward on the bow, somehow perfectly maintaining her balance. And there was a guy in the back at the TILLER (no, not a rudder – those are underwater, and controlled by linkage to a wheel or other steering device).
After shoving off, they paddled around the inlet – sometimes in unison, sometimes with a random spaziness. They learned how to turn, how to speed up and slow down. Eventually, after about 30 minutes, they were at the far end of the inlet, and the woman on the bow told them to stop (I could just barely hear her). She told them to rest for a few minutes, because they were about to “sprint” across the inlet. She told them to breathe deep and shake their already tired arms out. I saw them rolling their heads around on their necks, trying to loosen up their tensed muscles.
Then the bow-lady said, “ok – get ready. Everyone? Paddles up! On the count of three, I want you to DIG in unison on my call. Are you ready? ONE… TWO… THREE: DIG! DIG! DIG! DIG!”
The massive canoe literally jumped forward. They flew across the inlet (it was kinda breathtaking) in about 45 seconds.
[Unpause – end sidebar – back to us…]
we’re going to do that — all of it. We’re a bit weary and tired; and we have an all-out sprint coming up: NEW THINGS — new events, a possible significant partnership, fall CORE, Alter; and ONGOING NORMAL THINGS – three youth workers conventions just around the corner, all the same publishing work as usual, building the CORE for next year. We’re going to need an all-out unison push from everyone, in every department, in every role.
But we need the pause – the rest before the sprint. So… we’re shutting down YS for a week. We’ll close down at the end of the day, Tuesday, June 7, and remain closed until Wednesday morning, June 15. This will not require “vacation time”. This is personal and corporate rest, in preparation for the sprint. Basically, you’ll have a 7 day weekend (Wednesday, June 8, through Tuesday, June 14). A few people are traveling on business on the 8th. sorry. You still get a 6-day weekend. Use this time however you want – but please make it restorative and rejuvenative and restful. If that means laying at the beach, so be it. If that means heading out of town, go for it. If it means sleeping in and trying a new kind of wine every day, uncork it, baby. Just – please – don’t come back more worn out! I’m going to ask Beth Slev (our spiritual director) to prepare some suggested short reading and reflections for us for each of those 7 days – so anyone who chooses can reflect on the same passage of scripture or practice the same prayer on the same day as your fellow paddlers.
so, there you have it. we’re closing the doors of ys for a week to rest in preparation for a sprint of reinvention. pray for us!