ABAG Member: Stepping Back to See More Clearly…Alone and in Teams
Tuesday, January 31, 2017
Posted by: Tausi Suedi
Source: Philanthropy's Reflective Practices
Jan Jaffe: When we first talked about reflective practices late last summer, you offered a counter-intuitive personal practice to get some distance and perspective on tough challenges: press the pause button. I don’t think this came up just because we were both lamenting the end of summer.
Ryan Chao: Well, I’m sure that played a part! It’s also about coming to know your limitations and creating a space for seeing practice in a different way. I ran a large nonprofit for eight years when I also had young kids. Everything felt like life and death. Getting some distance helped me fully show up and make better decisions at work and at home. I’ve become a believer in the role of work/life balance as key to maintaining calm and perspective at work. Not being “in it” all the time helps me to remember that I’m not changing the world by myself.
Jan: We’re interested in learning how people develop their reflective practices. How did you learn to create explicit practices to stay effective in the fray?
Ryan: I had two fellowship experiences that introduced me to reflective practices as part of professional development. The year-long Achieving Excellence in Community Development run by NeighborWorks and the Kennedy School taught me about the adaptive/technical frame. I learned to step back from situations and take time to reflect – what they called “go up to the balcony.” Later, I was an Annie E. Casey Children and Families Fellow where reflective practices are core to the curriculum. In both cases, I learned some language and processes to help me view complex situations. I was assigned a coach and got some feedback on how I show up. It was invaluable to get feedback from someone who got to know me outside of the day-to-day. For many of these approaches, journaling is common. I’m not good journaler. I tend to overthink it. It was 1:1 coaching that helped me learn to ad lib.
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