Take Responsibility For What You Love

“Take responsibility for what you love as an act of service.” ~ Peggy Holman

I have been reading Peggy Holman’s book, “Engaging Emergence: Turning Upheaval into Opportunity”. From the moment I heard Dr. Susan Stewart, DVM, describe Holman’s concepts at the the 2015 ECHO International Agricultural Conference, I knew that I had to read the book.

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Dr. Stewart challenged us to consider engaging and welcoming change as a means of moving from a time of chaos to a time more alive, more healthy, and more functional for ourselves and others. For me, this was a new idea.

I tend to be a person who loves planning and following the plan. Upheaval is typically not something I embrace. In fact, I work in a system that highly values logic modeling, following work plans, and meeting outcome measures. As I write this blog, I am in New Orleans, Louisiana, at a Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program Fidelity Training with some of my staff.

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Fidelity training is all about linking a program’s logic model to its program implementation to anticipated outcome measure achievement. Outcome measure achievement leads to future funding. In this system, upheaval is not our friend.

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However, we will be implementing our Teen Pregnancy Program entitled “PlanBe__” with 6,000 teens and young adults in Miami-Dade County Public Schools this year alone. Working with teens in an urban, public school setting is fraught with challenges. The teens in our target population are living in a community that is constantly changing and oftentimes experiencing traumatic upheaval. No matter how highly rated our proposal was and how seamless our planning has been, we can expect the unexpected. So what should we do?

What I am learning from Peggy Holman’s book is that we need to assess why we are involved in this daunting effort. Why are we doing what we are doing? If we are doing it out of love, then no matter what emerges we move forward, embrace change, and continue to do our work as an act of service. In other words, as we provide students with this program we provide it in love as an act of service. Yes, the logic model, the work plan, and the outcome measures provide us with an essential framework for how we work, but without love the program is empty.

Thank you Dr. Stewart for introducing me to this book. Thank you Peggy Holman for writing it. I am inspired to approach what I do with a new perspective.

When love is truly responsible, it is also free.” ~ Pope John Paul II, Crossing the Threshold of Hope

(Photo credits: Linda Freeman, ECHO Demonstration Farm, Ft. Myers, Florida, November 2015; Linda Freeman, New Orleans, Louisiana, December 2015.)

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