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December 14, 2021


Aim Higher

In this week’s Systems Change Newsletter…

  • Invitations & Announcements
  • Catalytic Thinking Exercise: Aim higher
  • Resources to Further Your Practice

Invitations & Announcements:

Kentucky Tornadoes
In response to the devastating tornadoes that hit Kentucky this past weekend, we reached out to our friends at the Kentucky Nonprofit Network, asking how our readers can help with the recovery efforts. We urge you to donate to the following recovery funds:

Team Western Kentucky Tornado Relief Fund

• United Way of Kentucky

• Community Foundation of Western Kentucky

• Kentucky Red Cross

Succession Planning at our Monthly Integrity Conversation
Mark your calendar! Our next Succession Planning conversation will be Monday, January 10 at 10am Pacific time / 1pm Eastern time. The conversation has been BLOWING UP as we’ve applied Catalytic Thinking to the topic. Want to be part of it? Info is here…

Creating the Future Podcast!
Starting next year, we will be hosting a podcast, where we will talk with change leaders about the conditions for success for social change to happen. As we prepare, we want to know: What questions do you wish we would answer in that podcast? 
Let us know here.

Catalytic Thinking Exercise: Aim Higher

What does it take to create a future different from our past? First thing, we need to reach beyond constantly reacting to what’s right in front of us. Put simply, we can only create a healthy, equitable, humane future for our world if that is where we are aiming.

If that feels like a “duh” moment, you are right. Sadly, the truth is that we rarely aim at what we really want. Instead, we react with interim steps, as if those interim steps ARE the goal.

Instead of aiming at feeling secure and happy in our personal lives, we aim at making a lot of money – one of many possible ways to be secure, but by no means the real goal.

Instead of aiming at creating a healthy, equitable community, organizations aim at feeding more people - one of many possible ways to create health and equity, but by no means the real goal.

This has hit home for us big time as Creating the Future has begun applying Catalytic Thinking to the topic of Succession Planning. Because Catalytic Thinking asks us to reach for what is possible, the first aha from our Succession discussions has been a big one:

The best possible outcome from succession planning is NOT about replacing one person with another; it is about continuity and sustainability of the mission, and a sense of calm and “we’ve got this” for everyone in the organization.

We know that’s what happens when we ask the questions of Catalytic Thinking, and yet the answers so often elicit feelings of surprise. Those high potential outcomes are there, waiting for us to see them and act on them. Instead of reacting to the immediate situation, the framework encourages us to focus on the whole context of why it is important to resolve that issue –what “good” would look like when the issue is resolved. Every time we aim at that real outcome, we can feel our spirits lift, buoyed by all that possibility.

For this last eJournal of 2021, let’s apply that high-potential thinking to the next few weeks – preparing for the holidays at home, and preparing for year-end in social change organizations. Because the more we practice on the immediate stuff, the more we will be ready to aim for true systems change.

Try this:
As you get ready for the next few weeks of both holiday and end-of-year mayhem, for every task you must do, ask these questions:

Why is this task important? What is important about it?

Aim your efforts at the answers to that question.

Why does this task matter? To whom does it matter? What is important to THEM?

Aim your work at the answers to these questions.

What is the most important result that could come from this task? And why is that result important? What will that result make possible?

Infuse your efforts with the answer to that last question – what the result will make possible.

When it comes to your holiday preparations at home, what is the most important result of those preparations? And why is that result important? Is it about love, a sense of family? Is it about providing some relief to family members who have been struggling? Whatever the answer, make your holidays about THAT.

In your social change efforts, what is the most important result of your year-end work? As an individual, that might include volunteering or making donations. Why is that important? What do those year-end efforts ultimately make possible – and for whom? Whatever your answer, make your year-end social change efforts about THAT.

And if you work at an organization, why do your year-end tasks matter? To whom does it matter? What is important to THEM? Whatever the answer, make your year-end work about THAT.

By infusing your year-end work with that sense of possibility, you will be aiming for what you really want. In systems change work, that is everything – reaching for the real end goal of thriving, healthy, humane conditions for all of us living on this planet. And that is what Catalytic Thinking is all about!

Resources to Support Your Practice:

  • WATCH: Reaching for what is possible isn’t just a feel-good exercise. The power of “where we aim” is rooted in science, from physics to neuroscience to math. See why here…
  • READ: Check out what happens when something mundane as a thank-you note aims at what is possible. You’ll love this!
  • LISTEN: In this podcast, the former CEO of the Santa Fe Community Foundation talks about the need for foundations to align their means with the ends they want to see. Listen here…
Photo by Mikhail Nilov from Pexels

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's Mission
Teach people how to change the systems they find themselves in,
to create a future different from our past -
all by changing the questions they ask.

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