By Joanne Heyman | Posted Jan 4, 2024
As the fog settles in round my home this late December afternoon, I’m giving myself the gift of time to look back over the past 12 months to see if there is a thematic thread I can discern weaving together the experiences, conversations, and observations of this consequential year.
I’ve been uncharacteristically quiet these past few months – at least in public. Events in the Middle East, the body politic, the environment, and our communities have left me close to speechless. I’ve seen acts of brutality, degradation, and sheer evil – the desecration of people and the planet. Trying to make sense of things that are hard to comprehend can find me actually scratching my head. I’ve also witnessed courage, conviction, grace, and generosity – moments of startling beauty. As for all of us, my experience is that it’s been a lot.
Being quiet can serve an incredibly useful purpose when used as an opportunity to listen, reflect, and process large amounts of incoming data and perspectives. For me, it’s essential and requires no small amount of effort to slow down. For those who know me well, you know that “wait” is a proverbial four-letter word. But slow down I must if I’m going to be of valuable service.
While I wait for the literal and figurative fog to lift, this is what I know:
The thread I’ve been searching for is love. Not the romantic kind (although, isn’t that truly delightful!) or even the familial kind, both of which are such a lovely part of a full and fulfilling life. I’m thinking about love in action, leading from the heart, and how essential this is to how we move forward. I’m contemplating how we find the humanity in each of us and use that recognition as the starting place for policy, practice, and progress.
So many of my clients are the kind of leaders I reference and revere – people who put people first, and who mitigate harm whenever possible. They are the ones who dedicate their talents and other resources to making the world safer, cleaner, healthier, smarter, more connected, and more beautiful. Those who believe in democracy and dedicate their prodigious skills and networks to preserving it. They put love into action every day. They are quiet heroes, and I am in awe of them.
As I look to 2024, I have no “word of the year” but rather a commitment to going slowly enough to feel what needs to be felt. To take the time necessary to do the important work, not only the urgent tasks. To not jump to conclusions (but always jumping for joy when warranted).
In the coming year(s) my intention is to speak more directly about what we can do to heal organizations and communities and to leverage love as a superpower.
From my beating heart to yours, I’m sending wishes for a new year characterized by kindness, compassion, and a greater awareness of all that connects us.