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December 7, 2020

A sailor on leave hugs her children, seeing them for the first time. She has a huge smile on her face.

“Only connect! That was the whole of her sermon."
~ E.M. Forster, from Howard’s End


Before we dive in, 2 quick announcements:

Values and the Board: Are you curious what it takes for an organization’s values to be the board's primary focus? Join our discussion on December 14th! Be in the Zoom room with us or watch the live-stream. Info is here.

Reworking our Newsletter: What would you improve about this eJournal? On January 7th at 12noon PT we will be applying Catalytic Thinking to just that question. Click here if you’d like your voice to be included in that discussion.

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Only Connect
In his most recent book, anthropologist David Graeber* notes the following:

"Visit a graveyard; you will search in vain for a tombstone inscribed with the words steamfitter, Executive Vice President, park ranger, or clerk. In death, the essence of a soul is marked by the love people felt for their husbands, wives, and children…"

As pack animals, that sense of connection is embedded in our human DNA. Because we need each other for our very survival, our brains are wired to feel good when we make those connections.

This week’s Try This exercise is all about that mandate to “only connect.” The only way we will create change is together, and if we are to work well together, we must know and trust each other. Building these important connections – not as just colleagues and coworkers, but as people – is a critical pre-condition for successfully linking arms and building bridges, to create change together.

Try this:
This exercise seems perfectly suited for a year when we are not able to connect in person: 

Pick up the phone and tell the people who are important to you that they are important to you.

Yes, you can email or send a card in the mail. But our brains respond differently to an email than they do to the sound of the human voice. Consider how you would prefer to hear the words I Love You – in an email alongside ads for holiday shopping deals, or whispered lovingly in your ear?

Our brains also respond differently when an incident is accompanied by surprise. Surprise embeds memories more deeply and deepens our emotional response. And what better surprise than to hear that someone appreciates you!?

“Hi, it's Leila. I've been thinking about you and feeling so grateful that you are in my life. I just wanted you to know that.”

“Hi, this is Hector from the XYZ organization. I know you have been volunteering in our food pantry, and I just wanted you to know what a difference you are making. We truly couldn’t do what we do without you.”

If just reading these paragraphs makes you smile, imagine how you'll feel when you actually make the call. And imagine how you would feel to receive such a call!

We don’t have to wait for some distant future to create systems that celebrate our humanity. We can make these authentic connections right now, being the future we want to see. That is why Catalytic Listening – listening for the beauty in our fellow humans - is at the heart of the Catalytic Thinking framework.

Resources to Support Your Practice
These resources will add to your "connecting" practice. 

  • Learn: A new click-and-play class on Catalytic Listening will be released in January. To be notified when the class is ready, click here…
  • Listen: “How does love conquer fear?” asked podcaster Shane Breslin when Hildy was his guest. Download and listen. We know you’ll be inspired. Listen here…
  • Read: This 20 year old article rings even more true today, as Hildy tells the story of calling to thank donors for their donations. Read it here…

* David Graeber's newest book can be found here. We strongly recommend it!

Want to learn alongside other people who are also trying out Catalytic Thinking practices? Join our Catalytic Thinking in Action community on Facebook - a welcoming place where you can ask questions and learn from people like you who are experimenting with these practices. We look forward to seeing you there!

Help Keep Our Programs Freely Available
Most of the programs at Creating the Future are free or low cost, with liberal tuition assistance when they aren’t.

If you find our programs of benefit, we hope you will consider contributing, to help keep these programs available to as many people as possible.   Donate here ...

eJournal Archives:
If you’re new to our eJournal, or just want to remind yourself of past practice exercises we’ve shared, check out our eJournal archives here.

Creating the Future
is a collection of people around the world supporting each other in a grand experiment:
To determine how much more humane the world could be
if the systems that guide our work and our lives 
were creating conditions for all of us to thrive.

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