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Alignment: Words and Deeds

Have you ever been in a meeting and facilitators ask for suggestions? Then suggestions are shared around the room through a protocol or simply shared through conversation. Basically, I have seen this type of meeting unfold in two ways. Either one of the leaders shares ideas, their colleagues agree, and the work remains status quo, or all colleagues are active participants and the ideas evolve. For instance, several years ago someone in a meeting shared an idea about a leadership practice. Our colleagues listened and asked if they could enhance the idea with additional context. Eventually the idea evolved into the team’s leadership practice. If there was not a collaborative opportunity would the team have their collective leadership practice?

This is something we should experience more frequently in our work - especially for me because I am in the field of education. The more we can model these experiences, the more these experiences can be incorporated into teaching and learning experiences for students and families. The more we can see these experiences replicated in our communities, the more these opportunities can evolve. Have you experienced this type of collaboration and community where everyone is valued and their ideas are heard? At my core, I have always tried to be a person whose words align with my actions. Sometimes this was negotiable or revised, especially if I thought another action would get me to my desired outcome; however, I am at a point in my life where what I say must align with what I intentionally do. When this does not happen because of a barrier or an inequity then I have to make a change in my life. This does not mean perfection, it means I am living out my values. Being like this is authentic and genuine to me on a daily basis.

Sometimes my mind does not always let me live my “best life.” Thus, I am learning I have to interrogate those thoughts and feelings to assess how they are showing up in my life. For instance, I want to experience more frequently nonhierarchical thinking about my values, emotions, tasks, and ideas. I have been reading and listening about different aspects of this and noticing it in my personal and professional life. Recently, I attended an Edjacent leadership retreat and it was fantastic because I saw elements of nonhierarchical thinking and strategy being lived out. No more discussing the theory of an idea without practical application of the idea.

The idea of nonhierarchical practices sounds interesting and necessary, but the discomfort and change of how nonhierarchical feels is going to challenge our thinking and practice. Are we ready for this aspect of the word nonhierarchical? We have to interrupt hierarchical thinking where it does not serve us. Hierarchical is defined as “the nature of a hierarchy; arranged in order of rank.” Hierarchical living does not always serve us well. When I say living I feel this is our thinking, feeling, learning, and acting. Being nonhierarchical in our thinking, learning, leading, and acting does not mean we do not have personal responsibility and accountability, it means we intentionally communicate through our words and deeds our agreements and expectations. Likewise, if I am not upholding my agreements and expectations, I am comfortable holding myself accountable and/or receiving feedback from others about the alignment of personal intentions, agreements, and expectations.

There is a relationship between hierarchy and prioritization that I still need to explore in my personal and professional life. Prioritization is defined as “the action or process of deciding the relative importance or urgency of a thing or things.” This does not mean that my organizing of things is based on external factors. I tried to base my prioritization on internal factors that allow me to be the best version of myself. This is new for me to consistently do because for a long time, I placed other people’s needs, feelings, and expectations before my own. I am learning the importance of valuing myself at a deeper level and not giving more compassion and patience to others. I deserve the self-compassion and patience that I provided while I was teaching my students and supporting their families. You cannot give constantly what you do not have available to give.

There is greatness on the inside of each of us; therefore, it is imperative that we imagine and live out interdependence. The definition of interdependence is “the dependence of two or more people or things on each other.” When we are interdependent we need to bring our “whole” best self to opportunities for connection to another “whole” best connection. Sometimes interdependence looks different for every individual, experience, perspective, and community. Interdependence requires connection, not control. This does not mean we have to be perfect, but it needs to be interactive and authentic. Through interdependence, we can develop honest personal self-talk and dialogues with others.

Finally, I want to consider the difference between actions and deeds. An action is defined as “the fact or process of doing something, typically to achieve an aim.” However, a deed is “an action that is performed intentionally or consciously.” A deed is precise and it is a focused action to receive a particular desired result. I want to not just talk about something, write about something, but I need to experience it with intentionality and on purpose. Can we allow for this ongoing experience of interdependence?

NOTE: All definitions came from Google’s English dictionary provided by Oxford Languages.

Call to Action: Please consider some personal reflection time on some big ideas about this blog. Then consider leaving a comment in the comment feature below and speaking with someone else this week about some aspect of this blog post. Additionally, consider completing a project with someone else to live out the essence of interdependence. I cannot wait to hear about the wonderful things we create in the universe as a result of this reflection on alignment based on our words and deeds.

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