Got Your Back
COMMUNITY WELLNESS – building resiliency through mutual support
At FII, our team meetings begin with a pause during which we check inside to sense what is going on for us at that moment, and then share what comes. In the first meeting after Pat returned from Pakistan in January, she shared a story of something that had happened on her trip home that resonated, for her, with how FII itself works as an organization.
After a sixteen-hour flight from Abu Dhabi to Los Angeles, I was confident that the two-hour layover would allow me to get to the opposite end of the airport for the final leg of my trip home to Oregon. But it took one hour for my baggage to arrive. When I rushed out to catch the shuttle, one was just pulling away, so I had to wait for the next one.
When I finally got to the terminal, there were problems with the self-check-in system and tagging my bags. So I had to drag them to the counter. I lost my grip and they bounced painfully off my leg; I felt embarrassed, stresses and exhausted.
And then the most wonderful thing happened. A kind man behind the counter looked at me and said: “It’s all right. You have done everything correctly. I have your back. ” His words reached me and I felt heard. “So, you are saying if I just go to the gate, you can do your job and you have my back.”
He laughed: ‘“Yes, that is exactly what I am saying.” So I thanked him and everything was fine. At the end my bags and I arrived home in good shape.
And that is what being back here with the Focusing Initiatives team feels like. When we are together, I know you have my back. I know I can do my part and you will do yours and together we can do whatever needs to be done.
Pat’s metaphor is a wonderful picture of how we work at Focusing Initiatives International. We do almost everything in teams. We have different skill sets, different ideas and different personalities, all equipped to deal with different issues. Sometimes we start to feel overwhelmed by all there is to do, or a bit ‘lost’ in the middle of a task. But it works out fine because we take time to listen to each other, and we have each other’s back.
When we begin each meeting with that moment of self-reflection, what comes may be about the work we are doing or about what is happening in our personal lives. Honoring these parts of ourselves helps to reinforce how we work together. It’s like going to your neighbor’s kitchen for coffee. We are not only there for our work, but also for who we are.
We allow the agenda itself to emerge from our experiences since the last time we met and then jointly set goals. Everyone is heard and given a chance to let the others know if more is needed.
“For me what makes us different is that we listen in a heartfelt way, react from grounded presence, and honor each other throughout our interactions.”
Diana Scalera, a volunteer FII team member
When we work together we give each other feedback and support. If someone feels stuck, we take it on together to find a new way forward. If someone has taken on too much and is starting to feel a bit frantic, we share the burden. If someone gets lost, we take time to listen.
We never say ‘too bad you’re having a problem’. We say, “It’s okay. We hear you and we have your back”.