Spirit animals in the basement

We thought we ended March with spring, a teaser only. We started April with a Nor’easter that lasted 2 days and dumped a couple of inches of snow. The tender greens of the garlic, crocuses and other spring bulbs disappeared for a few days. And then it was spring again, chasing the snow quickly.

All of this week was devoted to the end of MSH’s leadership, management and governance project (LMG). I have seen the entire arc of it: the first project that started in 1985, and this one, the last, the ends in September. All of them aimed to do something about the way health services are managed, led and how institutions are governed.

We have learned a lot over those years (as have I). We tried to showcase some of that learning in ways that match our philosophy of ‘creating catalytic learning experience.’ Some people who attended the event, and did not know what that meant, got a taste of what we meant. Others already knew. I suspect we were mostly preaching to the choir.

The days of preparation at our Washington office and the event itself felt like a family reunion. There were old friends, colleagues from decades ago and folks who, like me, have been working alongside each other, sometimes collaborating and sometimes competing for the same pot of money.

Axel had come along to get a taste of what my work looks and feels like from a participant perspective.  My role was to be the MC, introducing speakers, but I also had a chance to slide in some messages that are close to my heart.

Just before leaving Boston I had discovered some forgotten beanie babies that I had used in training decades ago. They came in handy: there was the fox who jumps over obstacles to get what he or she needs in the here and now; there was the beaver who builds strong foundations on which we anchor our aspirations; there was the owl who holds the old wisdom and sees things no one else sees and there was the dolphin which is about joy, energy and spirit. Everything we showcased or talked about had something of these animal archetypes inside it.

And while we spent the day in a basement conference room of the Ronald Reagan Building in the heart of DC, inclement weather moved overhead.It raked havoc with people’s hairdo and apparently also the roof of a school. It also messed up travel plans: the next day we spent a good part of the day at the airport trying to get home. At one point we simply gave up our seats to wait even longer – we were more flexible than others. American Airlines gave us each a 500 dollar credit for our noble geste.

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