I write this from a Honey Grow [honest eating, growing local] restaurant on City Ave, across the bridge from Philadelphia University, where my weekend class of graduate school has been a full immersion of rich learning sweetness–Mount Everest simulations, speed dating project pitches, design and dines, giving voice to ethical values, mind-mapping, and engaging discussions on negotiations, harnessing multi-disciplinary expertise and creating learning organizations. I am a strawberry dipped in chocolate.
I used to be a little kid in a candy store. But I since have metamorphosed, and now wear the seeds of innovation underneath a cloak that appeases the appetite of fine minds. I meet them every other weekend in this beloved city. Like Baltimore, I am beginning to characterize Philadelphia by the people who share this time in an interdependent way. We rely on our past experiences and current wisdom to be unafraid to get in a pit with a lion on a snowy day. Our shared experiences have untapped a courage we off-handedly reveal in stories as unimportant until sharing them out loud. And when we do, the inherent surprise of striking gold, and the wherewithall to mine it of fool’s logic. There is legitimacy here, and it is embedded in the things that weigh on our minds, and result in the gravity of our actions. Unlike Baltimore, Philadelphia has validated my previous schooling stint in Pennsylvania–at Lehigh University–where my love (albeit challenge at the time) for organizational behavior was born. I am able to put a finger on it now (though I’ve been pressing this for quite some time), equipped with the tools and resources to navigate unconditional change with an understanding that the rules of motivation, self-interest, leadership and connectiveness are unwritten. My trouble then, was in trying to write them down.
It made sense to adopt a policy of transparency that exposed my own personal vulnerabilities, weaknesses and shortcomings as a way to strip down any ounce ego that was getting in the way of understanding politics [I later became an acute observer as a newspaper reporter, which furthered this understanding in a small town context and from an objective point of view]. There is a problem with transparency, however. It reveals your hand. But because I had no strategy at the time, it didn’t matter if I was an open book. I just wanted to be read–seen and heard–acknowledgement that I existed. If you can accomplish this, congratulations. In all sincerity, you now have a baseline for where you stand. If not, no worries. You will adapt, and at some definable moment, it will become much easier to determine future points of impact–where you want your thoughts and actions to matter. And you need a strategy to do this successfully, as defined by being deliberate and purposeful about the kind of change you’d like to create, should you believe that change is something worth investing. I do.
So I return to Pennsylvania with the foresight of Philadelphia. This may seem like a paradox, but there is such a thing as resilient thinking. In “Resilience: Why Things Bounce Back,” Andrew Zolli describes systems that embrace such hard-wiring:
“In their purest expression, resilient systems may have no baseline to return to–they may reconfigure themselves continuously and fluidly to adapt to ever-changing circumstances, while continuing to fulfill their purpose.”
What I love about the world “resilience” is that it is curiously similar to the word “silence.” Let me break it down: In “resilience,” the “re” signifies a repetition, while the extra “i” signifies your voice. Therefore, if you were silenced during a particular moment in your life, you now have the opportunity to repeat it in a new context–one where you are received loud and clear, and empowered to create a different outcome. Philadelphia has become that place for me. I write from here, with love.