The Terror of Learning

Learning can be scary because it inherently implies detachment from currently held beliefs and understandings. It can be a threat to our individual or group identity.

Alternatively, I see learning as an opportunity to grow. While we may choose to shift our position as a result of something we have learned, learning can also result in having a more expansive view or increased flexibility to shift our perspective. We can do both while remaining still in the same spot, in the safety of our core values and purpose.

Optimism and Realism: Allies or Antagonists?

If you read this blog, you might have noticed that I am an optimist. Someone very kindly called me a ‘beacon of hope’ recently. While many people have expressed appreciation for the work that I am doing through The Fruition Coalition, others have expressed concern that it is detached from reality.

Can optimism and realism be complementary rather than contradictory? I think they can. Without optimism, our efforts to change the real conditions of our lives lack vision. Without realism, our dreams for the future lack grounding. Both are necessary, and both are mutually reinforcing.

The Top 10 Things I Have Learned as a Ph.D. Student

1. Everything I have been taught is a lie, or at least an illusion.
2. Wisdom and understanding are more important than knowledge.
3. Truth is an elusive mystery.
4. I am not as smart as I thought I was.
5. I am smarter than I thought I was.
6. Lao Tzu and Socrates were right – the more I know, the less I understand and the only true wisdom is knowing that I know nothing.
7. My mind is but an ornery grain of sand on the splendid beach of scholarship.
8. I can’t imagine having enough time to thoroughly explore and learn everything that interests me.
9. Learning is a process of awakening.
10. Qualitative research is just as valuable — to me and to others — as quantitative research (yay!).

Let’s Play 20 Questions!

My new sometimes series, 20 Questions, will be dedicated to nonprofit capacity building. Each of these posts will share a collection of 20 reflection and discussion questions to help you and your organization strategically investigate various topics. These questions can be used comprehensively to develop a plan of action or they can be used one by one to address the particular needs of organizations. You can use the questions to prepare for meetings or present them at meetings to encourage collaborative discussion. Staff, the board of directors, volunteers, program participants, community partners, elected officials, and the community at large can all be engaged in the work of organizations by using these questions.

We will get started with 20 Questions to ask when you join a board of directors. Coming soon!

Rice

Rice is a metaphor for the coexistence of simplicity and complexity. It seems simple on the surface. White or brown, short, medium, or long grain…these are our limited options. It is a basic food, a side dish, an afterthought.

But if we look closer and pay attention, we will find that there are many varieties of rice with intricate aromas, distinctive flavors, and beautiful colors. Red, black, organic, wild, jasmine, starchy, medicinal…there are over 40,000 varieties of rice.

Rice is paradoxical. It is taken for granted, yet it is essential. It is simple, yet it is complex. It is easy to prepare, yet difficult to grow. Rice is life.

The Religiosity and Spirituality of Politics

Oh yes I did…bring up the two most controversial topics in one blog post.

The way we perform politics is much like the expression of religious dogma. We rigidly control and divide based on what we claim to be the ‘truth.’ Wouldn’t it be cool if we let go of our beliefs, all of us, and performed politics with a sense of awe, wonder, openness, and mystery in search of universal wisdom?