I have three hopes for 2018:
- That we attach meaning to change;
- That we think differently about constructing the future that we want;
- That we unf*ck that which is known to be broken.
As we lean into a new year there is promise of change; and you know from previous promises of change that those are promises that can be broken. In 2018, then, I ask you not to lean into change in a technical sense, but to join me in embracing change in an emotional sense – to give change a meaning. It is my hope for this year that we spend more time finding and leveraging our motivation to change rather than just naming what needs to change.
If you want your motivation to work – and if you want to turn motivation into action - you have to attach a meaning to it.
- What are you going to focus on? Creating residential stability? Improved diversion programming? Professionalized street outreach? Being an awesome shelter? Improving leadership? Now give it a meaning…a meaning that produces an emotion. Why that meaning?
- What are you after? Don’t talk targets or goals…talk about the change you really want realized. How does the future look and feel differently if you realize this change? Why not realize the change you desire?
- What is your map to get there? If you don’t have a map you will not arrive where you want to be. Point in the general direction then keep tweaking. Take action sooner rather than later. Remember imperfect action trumps perfect planning. Why wait?
- What is going to fuel you? What will keep you going? What is the reward? How are you nourished? Why does that nourish you?
The second hope I have for 2018 is for new thinking in forming the future reality we want.
To that end, I would challenge you with these three questions:
- Where are you looking to anticipate change?
You’ve got to know where to look to find that which you do not know. Maybe this means deeper conversations with thought-leaders. Maybe this is going to a state conference in a state other than your own. Maybe this is engaging with people outside of our sector. Focus where you look to understand change.
- How do you understand trends and their impact?
Are you using your existing data to drive change moving forward, or do you only use your data to look backward at what has already happened? We focus too much of our time on what was, and not nearly enough energy creating what will be. We focus too much of our time on the current crisis of the day, and not enough time on building the systems that we need. If you do not understand trends and their impact you are surrendering your influence over the future that you want.
- Are you courageous to give up the past - and are you open to reinventing your work?
Do what you have always done and get what you have always got. You need to DO different if you desire to BE different. Using the words of change does not result in realized change, without action. Being courageous enough to give up the past can also mean we need closure for past programs, mistakes and funding decisions we have made. Grieve your loss and move on with the future.
And my final hope is to unf*ck that which we know to be broken in many communities. The gentle task of unf*cking things is part science and part art. The scientific part is ensuring people have the technical know-how to make change happen. The art part is ensuring people have the resiliency and fulfillment to see the change through…to attach an emotional meaning to the change. While progress has been made in many communities, the top five things I would like to see unf*cked are:
5- Housing stability programs – keeping people housed
4- Street outreach – professionalizing the approach to focus on housing outcomes immediately
3- Homeless shelters – having an unrelenting housing focus
2- Diversion – whenever it is safe and appropriate to have people in a place other than shelter, to do so
1- Leadership – to ensure those in leadership positions have the skills to guide people to achieving a vision of ending homelessness; that leaders spend more time leading and less time managing