What I have ‘learned’ so far at Recrear – Recrear has been an ongoing and growing social experiment. My Recrear adventure has been filled with new skills, a myriad of different people, mistakes, and a ton of self-discovery and reflection. In this monthly blog entry I will be posting some of my own Recrear-related lessons learned and reflections.
– Gioel (ED @Recrear)
This weekend I celebrated my favourite north american holiday, thanksgiving (and yes american friends, Canada does celebrates thanksgiving two weeks before you do). There is something very healthy, healing and invigorating about the act of getting together with family and friends to celebrate gratefulness.
I think about gratitude a lot. The feeling creeps up on me all of a sudden, during a walk, after an enriching conversation with an old friend, or after a class with my students… I feel it in my stomach. It feels warm and it tickles a bit. The simple act of letting myself be invaded by gratitude recharges my battery, gives me focus, and makes me feel more creative.
I am obviously not the only one to feel this way. Interesting studies on the power of gratitude associate the feeling with, among others: high energy, positive moods, a greater sense of connectedness, enthusiasm, determination, and attentiveness.
In the same way gratitude benefits us as individuals, it can also benefit organizations and communities. Here are some reflections about why practicing gratitude is important at the organizational level:
People come and go – gratitude grounds and gives continuity.
At Recrear, we practice lots of gratitude during Magnify, our 3-week annual conference hosted every year in a different location. Our regular practices include dancing, making food together, making cakes to celebrate, singing and sharing stories. As an organization with no paid staff and a network working remotely, at Recrear our volunteers come and go. This being said, each person engaging with Recrear has experienced a connection with our work, developed important friendships, or had an ah-ha moment living and sharing with the rest of the ‘Recrear’ family. The sense of appreciation for such experiences builds our community.
Each person that has come across Recrear has enriched and been enriched by our organization in some way. To be a breathing and learning organization, we need to be able to appreciate and assimilate the added value that each person brings to the table. Gratitude should be the foundation of our institutional knowledge.
- Gratitude helps organizations realize their potential and be impactful.
Recrear to me is a community. Developing and building a community should always start from a mentality of abundance. Two weeks ago, I asked the students in my class on ‘Youth Engagement in Community Development’ to all list on the black boards what skills and knowledge they have. In 5 minutes, the class walls were covered with the new unveiled skills. With this simple exercise, we took a moment to appreciate what everybody brings to the group. We learned that we have professional bakers, graphic and web designers, carpenters, kayakers, knitters and ‘camp fire experts’. The exercise had a very uplifting effect.
Asset-Based Community Development (ABCD) is founded on the principle that recognizing all available assets is the first step to energize community and connecting assets with one another in ways that multiply their power and effectiveness (learn more about the ABCD). Becoming aware of what makes our community rich sparks creativity and allows us to see new opportunities.
I think that it is important to bring gratitude into every level of organizational management. The ability to show gratitude to donors and supporters is at the heart of non-profit fundraising. Showing gratitude to volunteers and board members is important for good management. At Recrear our mission is to integrate young people proactively in how community development initiatives are designed and delivered. We argue that young people have a lot to offer and teach. Basically, we work to make sure society appreciates young people. Our workshop and projects are to me gratitude generating factories. I step outside filled with appreciation for what I learned and experienced. The most powerful work, starts from a place of gratitude.
- It takes courage to grow! Practicing gratitude makes organizations more courageous.
Change is scary and unsettling. Organizations are constantly transforming, growing and adapting. Practicing gratitude gives courage. Personally, it reminds me that every interaction and lesson learned is a gift, that despite the challenging of growing an organization, focusing on the positive is what gives us the courage to march on and take bold decisions.
If I could pick few qualities that I think any organization should be founded on, gratitude would be on the top of my list. However, this is easier said than done and there needs to be lots of intentionality in making ‘organization gratefulness’ the soul of an organization.
What does your organization do to exercise gratitude?