25 years ago, Integrated Work was born out of Jessica Hartung’s vision that work and life go together, that a more humane way of leading organizations just might be possible. A lot has changed since 1998, and as we celebrate this milestone year, we are struck that learning together along the journey has made it possible. Every step of the way.
As I write this on International Women’s Day and look back on the many moments and memories from our Black History Month celebrations in February, I’ve been reflecting on the role of these micro-moments of remembering. On the one hand, I appreciate the focused attention, the reminders to stop and pay tribute, and the visibility they give to causes that still matter a great deal.
This month we celebrated the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and I spent some time reflecting on what happens to a movement when its message goes “mainstream.”
While many Americans now remember King’s legacy fondly and the key messages from his I have a dream speech are recited by schoolchildren across the country, it’s important to remember that his legacy is also one of struggle, of speaking truth to power, and of pointing to the places where we still fall short of the dream outlined by our Founders in the Declaration of Independence to “form a more perfect union.” The work carries on.
December 21st marks the solstice—the shortest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere and the longest in the South—that point where days cross over from shortening to lengthening, or vice versa, depending on where you stand in relationship to the sun and its shadows.
So much of life is like that—one person’s ending is another’s beginning, what occurs as a loss to one might feel like victory to someone else. This day of changing shadows reminds us, though, that our perspective is not the Truth. What we can see from where we stand is only one part of the story.
The premise of this time of Thanksgiving is about celebrating the bounty in one’s life and giving gratitude for the things we have been blessed with. While the origins of the holiday itself and some of the ways it continues to be celebrated are fraught, there are also new traditions being imagined and other emphases for our gratitude. Seth Godin’s Thanksgiving Reader is one example and Oprah has compiled this list of 30 traditions to try with your family, while this article from Cultural Survival highlights strategies for decolonizing and honoring native peoples on Thanksgiving and throughout indigenous peoples’ month.
As I write this today, the leaves are beautiful shades of red, gold, yellow, and green outside of my window and the sky has the crisp blue of a clear, fall day. I like to pause at this time of year to reflect on all the change the year has held and begin intention setting for the year ahead.
There is something that always catches me a little off guard about this time of year. The chill that creeps into the air, the shorter days, the changing leaves that remind us that there is a season for all things.
In 2020, Integrated Work began to explore what it would mean to move into a self-management structure. We evolved from using Holacracy to a human-first model we call KOAN: a kind, open, adaptive network. At our September 2021 staff retreat, our first in-person time together since the adoption of KOAN, (don’t worry, we were all vaccinated and masked), we lived into our KOAN principles in how we behaved together and in the way we designed the time we shared.