At the Table, An Inside look at Abundance

My Abundance bio was your typical bio: brief self-description, pets, and family.
Well… now they are all either dead or gone.

I tried a couple of times, but it was too painful to write a new bio.  To remedy this, Hannah created a staff retreat under the guise of needing new headshots.  While each individual was getting their photo taken, the remaining staff collaborated on writing their bio for them – focusing on the light and spirit that each staff member brings to the organization.  To the world.

It was a brilliant idea.  We headed off to an oasis.  Arcadia: the artistic co-housing community created by Giles Blunden and home of our beloved photographer, Adrian Moreno! We circled up, ate a nourishing meal, and held a ritual lead by Brooksie Edwards, a partner of Abundance.

It was a typical hot steamy July day and Adrian did his magic.  As each person left the room, we laughed and wrote and goofed and remembered.  What do we each bring to the table?  At the end of the day, we had six solid staff bios and read them aloud to each other.  I think most of us choked up while listening.  It’s so hard to receive.

We would be much better served if only we could see ourselves as others see us.

Over the next quarter we are having each staff and board member write about what’s on top for them in this work and this community.

I reflect on where we are as an organization.  Abundance has been moving and evolving steadily for 12 years.  We have had some of the best and brightest advisors, board members, staff and supporters.

We are change makers.  Cultural alchemists.  We go fast and we do a lot with a little.  That serves us and it also creates chaos.  These days we have great balance with staff.  As we grow, we have the detail people, the people with planning, and forethought, integrity and a thoroughness that was not there in the early days.

Maria Kingery has been working with us for 2 years on a system called EOS (entrepreneurial operating system).  Some of the program seems like basic common sense, but we were missing some foundational piece of running this organization.  As they say, the devil is in the details.  This process is catapulting us into much greater professionalism.

Our Core Values:
Play with Purpose
Empower with Community
Assess Root Causes
Cultivate Connection
Engage Fearlessly

Every Monday morning we have a strict format (Level 10) for our Staff meeting, which has given us consistency and trust in each other.  We start by sharing our professional and personal good news.  This lets each other know where we are on an emotional level.  We sometimes cry, we always laugh, and vulnerability/intimacy is easy with this crew.  From there we report on our “rocks” progress (think big-picture tasks) and on to solving the little issues that come up when running a nonprofit.  Staff Meeting is a highlight of every week.

Focus on the people and the work just gets done. We are happy, empowered, and in the correct seats.  When you’re all rowing together – in synch – the projects flow.  Your mindset becomes “this is the work that I get to do.”

A huge part of solving issues is placing the elephant on the table.  When there is conflict and stress, we tend to push it under the carpet.  It’s much easier to ignore something and walk around it.

Until it’s not. 

I have big gratitude for being able to talk to everyone about disappointment in a real way and also hearing how I may have not communicated well.  This is always a two-way street.  Back to communication and expectations.  There is always so much room for not hearing or explaining.  We see and experience everything so differently from each other.  It gets even harder if we are doing projects virtually, texting, emailing, and going too fast.  Even face-to-face communication is likely to be misunderstood when we’re not addressing the elephant.  At Abundance, we invite the elephant to tea!

I see the staff blossoming.  I see all of us working towards our higher selves.  And seeing Abundance NC reaching its highest purpose.  This is rippling out to the partners and programs. It’s a journey and I’m grateful to be on this path.