Oct. 9, 2023 Traveling the Journey Together
How are you going to travel on our journey together?
This was the opening question that was asked during back-to-school meetings to several different members of the Christ Church Day School community that included the School Board, faculty and staff, and all new students and their families. To answer the question, each person chose a toy vehicle that best matched how they were approaching the new school year, and shared with the group the reasoning behind their choice.
It was a beautiful question and engaging activity that helped us reflect on our thoughts and feelings as we begin a new school year. It also gave us the opportunity to learn about how our fellow travelers were approaching the same journey with an understanding they brought with them different experiences and emotions.
The vehicles chosen and the reasoning behind the choices were all wonderfully unique.
We had people choose tractors to represent how they were focused on preparing the environment for others to grow. One teacher chose a skateboard to represent a willingness to take risks and try new things while a student chose the same skateboard to represent a slow, free-spirited approach to the new year. We had a van that was ready to pack in everything and everyone for an adventure and a bus to help focus on cultivating a positive and healthy community. We had our police cars ready to protect and serve and our fire engines prepared to put out fires and care for others when needed. One teacher chose a dump truck to represent the big open space that was ready to support and hold things for others, while another teacher chose the dump truck as a symbol to let go of worry and fear, and a student chose the same dump truck because she felt it represented strength, and she felt strong starting a new school. We also had hot wheels, monster trucks, and fun cars with flames and bright colors for people who are filled with energy and passion, and are coming in on fire, ready to have fun and crush it this year.
These different vehicles represent people and their individual stories and give us great insight into what our community members are thinking and feeling as we begin the new school year.
On the surface, one might think this is just another corny ice breaker, and yet, when we really engage in a thoughtful reflection and debrief of the activity, there are some important takeaways that will serve as the foundation for our community’s joy and success this year and beyond.
Learning and growth occur when we ask and answer beautiful questions.
Questioning, when done beautifully, is a tool that powers learning and innovation because it supports a meaningful exchange of ideas. When we intentionally consider the type, tone and timing of our questions, we engage in a reflective process that promotes strategic and creative thinking. During these meaningful exchanges of ideas, interpersonal relationships are also strengthened as we demonstrate a sincere desire to learn more from and about someone else.
Allowing time and space for beautiful questions impacts relationships because it breaks down potential power imbalances and removes the format of a right or wrong answer. This creates a safe space to be vulnerable with one’s thoughts and ideas. It positions everyone in the conversation to be a learner instead of a knower.
By asking beautiful questions and suspending our judgment and biases, we connect differently with people and ideas, and we identify challenges and opportunities more clearly. We also give ourselves permission to consider and embrace the possibilities when we answer the questions. This is precisely the type of freedom and space leaders and innovators need to develop game-changing ideas.
A sense of belonging must be intentionally cultivated.
Belonging occurs when we allow ourselves and others to be fully seen, heard, and valued as our authentic selves. This doesn’t happen naturally due to our human instincts related to fear and survival. Society has placed many unnecessary limitations on people by showing and telling them how they should and shouldn’t show up in the world.
We have to be intentional about breaking down the barriers and stereotypes that have caused people to not feel at home within themselves or their communities, and we have to counter these limitations with radical hospitality and love.
We must commit to creating safe spaces for a sense of belonging to be cultivated and fully lean into what it means to see and love all humans just as God sees and loves each one of us.
We are not meant to travel the journey alone.
We thrive when we are in relationship with each other. The human connection is an invaluable energy source that fuels the mind, body, and spirit.
When we join in community with others, we are able to use our different perspectives and experiences to provide collective strength and wisdom as we strive to fulfill our mission, vision, and goals.
One person cannot possibly be expected to have everything in their vehicle for all the different adventures we will encounter on our journey of life.
How are you going to travel on our journey together?
Beautiful questions create beautiful opportunities. Real transformative joy is in our future when we commit to a mindful exploration of ourselves, others, and the world around us.
As we travel this journey together, let’s continue asking and answering beautiful questions and providing time and space for people to share their stories. These stories will connect us and deepen our appreciation for each other as we navigate the twists, turns, uphills, and downhills that we are likely to encounter along the way.
I look forward to exploring this question further with the Christ Church parish on Sunday, September 3 at the 10am service and sharing more about the principles and virtues that are grounding and guiding the Day School’s journey. We have an exciting story to share!