Here are a few summary points from today’s lesson on our theory of change.
1- We measure our impact and results based on the story we generate, create, inspire, to be remembered and celebrated, retold and added to – it is not so much what you achieve this year but what it means in the end
2. Meaning is mined from our memories and memories are etched from the depth and stretch of our experience
3-This means we are taking a longer term view of impact, not short term, knowing over time meaning moves and shifts and we want the meaning of this year of service to shift more and more toward a deeper significance. What this year means depends largely on what happens after.
4-The first set of stories AmeriCorps is wanting to create is for the members, and for them to be able to look back on their year of service with much to share and reflect on and deepen.
5.-The second set of stories AmeriCorps is also wanting to create is for the students we serve, and for them to look back on this year and remember how we made them feel, how we cared, how we went the extra mile for them- not simply a matter of what they achieved but what it meant for them in the longer term.
6- The strength of the first set of stories is largely dependent on the strength of the second set of stories- that mutuality is summed up by knowing if we make a difference to them, they will surely make a difference to us
7-We said our mantra was “if you want to change the world, you have to change the story and conversely, if you want to change the story, you have to change the world.” They are two doorways to change, but push at the door that is opening out, not the one that swings back in your face. ( I tried the first in working with Israel Palestine and after a few bloody noses, realized it needed more of the second)
8-We said that you cannot make a difference by being the same, you make a difference by being different, so give yourself permission to create, innovate, to imagine beyond the horizon of normality, to go to the edge.
9-If “a story that becomes a memory” is what we want at the end, then let us design it from the start– by paying attention to the architecture of meaning that stories offer us and how they shape our brain’s sense of time unfolding in place
10-Designing the year ahead, we have a BME- beginning and a middle and an ending-(to quote Aristotle) The question to be asking as you navigate this year is not “Who am I?” or “Why am I here?” but “Where am I?” Start with Where. ( Sorry Simon Sinek) Now you are at the beginning
11 -Designing the service year to be an enduring memory means we know WHERE we are- that is what we call A-WHERE-NESS, so that we can leverage that place to the best advantage- Because we know that we are only passing through, the imperative is to maximize the momentum of every moment.
12-Each of these BME places are zones of energy and possibility that must be honored and used and not confused, so “carpe diem” seize the moment is good advice, but make sure it is the moment you are in. Seizing yesterday is both impossible and a definition of tragedy. (Ask Hamlet) You only begin once- but don’t be too late to start or too early to finish.
13-We map these BME zones as zones of energy as follows:
Beginnings are creative energy………… Once Upon a Time
Middles are complicated energy- ……….Then everything changed
Endings are completion energy- ………..And they all lived happily ever after- Or we all went home