Like many of the changemakers I work with, I didn't find my purpose. It found me.
The first time I realized that I had the power to change my life occurred on the way to college to begin my freshman year. The four-hour car ride from my home to campus was significant, not only for the physical transition it represented to a new environment, but also for the transformation that occurred. As I reflected on the past 18 years I realized that being a shy introvert was holding me back from developing relationships that could enrich my life. I also realized that moving to a new place where I didn’t know anyone provided an opportunity to make a fresh start. It was during this trip that I resolved to have a college experience that turned out to be both academically and socially rewarding.
Another pivotal moment that deepened my understanding of the importance of relationships occurred during my career as a humanitarian aid worker. Shortly after my arrival in Colombo, Sri Lanka a civil war re-ignited. The sight of a soldier lifting a sewer cap in front of my apartment building to check for bombs as I traveled to work was a daily reminder of the dangers I faced. Life in a dangerous environment also prompted me to re-evaluate my career.
I was drawn to humanitarian aid by a desire to help people rebuild their lives following armed conflict and natural disaster. The satisfaction I initially felt gave way to doubts about whether the work I was doing was actually making a real difference. I realized that impact isn’t only measured in terms of the number of dollars raised, aid items delivered, or the families who receive them. Impact is also determined by the quality of our relationships. In fact, we can’t produce meaningful, sustainable change in our workplaces and communities without the knowledge and skills to work well with other people.
It was this realization, along with help from a career counselor, that sparked my transition to a career in organization development. After graduating with a master degree in organization development I founded Shifting Patterns to support changemakers in developing teams and partnerships that have the capacity to achieve greater social, economic, and environmental impact. The leaders I’ve worked with understand that technology on its own is insufficient for unleashing productivity. People also need a shared purpose, clarity about each other’s roles and responsibilities, and processes for making decisions and managing conflict. This requires a continuous investment in building relationships that enable work to get done through trust, open and honest communication, and a commitment to address problems that arise early on.
A daily source of inspiration is working alongside nonprofits, social enterprises and benefit corporations that are addressing some of society’s toughest challenges. Challenges like defending the rights of immigrants, creating an economy that enables local businesses to thrive, and facilitating social entrepreneurs’ access to social and financial capital for spreading the adoption of promising innovations, to name a few.
I believe in a “teach them to fish” style of consulting that helps changemakers not only understand what is really getting in the way of effective teamwork, but also develop the skills needed to solve these problems on their own. As a member of numerous teams, I’ve learned that the ones that are the most successful not only pay attention to the work that needs to get done, they also address how work gets done. When people work better together, our workplaces and communities can truly make a positive difference. This is what Shifting Patterns is all about.
I look forward to taking the next steps to work with you! Contact me to find out how to get started.
Changemaker leaders instituted a process for supporting each other as a team
A global virtual team defined its purpose and learned how to leverage its strengths to achieve collective goals
A regional business association collectively developed an action plan that is being used to increase its visibility and attract new members
A new civic initiative clarified its purpose and strategic direction that was incorporated into a pitch deck for funders
Individuals that had not worked together before were guided in forming a team that designed and launched a crowdfunding campaign for a social enterprise
"The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice." - Martin luther King, Jr.
This quote inspires our work. Our role is to help changemakers build a lever that helps bend the arc further in the direction of justice. We recognize that social change is difficult and courageous work where success is measured by incremental progress. We're committed to supporting teams throughout their movement building journey.
We believe that how we relate to ourselves and to each other is fundamental to all change. We work with a variety of teams because they are the basic building block of efforts to bring about positive change whether your goals are to provide a social service, build communities that are better places to live, or mobilize people to advocate for political change.
At Shifting Patterns values are more than words on a sheet of paper. They are a reflection of who we are and are at the essence of our work in facilitating social change. For us, sustainability has multiple meanings, all of which are reflected in our work:
We're proud to be a member of the B Corp community where the "B" in benefit not only represents the kinds of organizations we work with, but also the principles by which we operate. Check out our profile.
Join Us! If you own or work for a company in the Washington, DC area and are interested in participating in the B Corp movement check out B Local: Mid-Atlantic Region to find out about upcoming events or to take the quick impact assessment.