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Inspire the inspiring: Lee Anne’s in Africa!

January 27, 2012

I don’t know if other places have people like Lee Anne Ragan of Rock Paper Scissors, but I think if they don’t they must be very envious.   I met Lee Anne years ago and spent the day with her when she was one of the co-facilitators of a workshop on welcoming diversity in the workplace.   People laughed, and got thoughtful, and joked, and didn’t do “role playing” so much as improv, and said the wrong things and the right things and at the end of the day I think we were all changed.   I was changed in that I had come to a different sense of what training could be like.

So I’ve followed Lee Anne’s work and since the burgeoning of the internet which, as usual, she’s right on top of, that’s pretty easy given that she sends out blog postings and tweets and an e-newsletter and keeps a site FULL of great resources for facilitators and people who just want to rethink things.   We get all this for free – all you need to do is sign up and it comes sluicing into your inbox.   This constant hopefulness and generosity impresses me.   The favourite thing that anyone has said about my work was that Susan and I made it not be a case of a glass being half full or half empty, but rather “let’s fill that damned glass!”   I think in our field  of supporting people with disabilities we squander hopefulness for various reasons – fear we’ll be wrong, taking on so much we don’t have time to give each other positive feedback, feeling at the mercy of systems that we know aren’t working for those we care about.   Parents need more hope, staff need more hope, communities need more hope.   I’m not sure about people with disabilities…   they seem to have hope to share.

When Lee Anne went off to Africa to do more good works I assumed she wouldn’t be keeping up with her blog and postings, but i was wrong.  Amazing.  I started thinking about how we might want to pay attention to those who inspire us, we might want to try to inspire them, to let them know we’re listening.   We might give them a gift of responsiveness.   I decided to get viral and I sent out this email about my “inspire the inspiring campaign” to people I care about, asking them to check out Lee Anne’s post, “It’s IS (not) my job & other reasons (not) TO change (or learn)”:

hi all – i really like Lee Anne Ragan’s blog and her work. great ideas, great graphics, great delivery and this overall sense of hope and purpose which is not limited to how anything we currently know works but a more visionary sense of a world working together in really harmonious ways. Anne Marie and I went to a workshop she did long ago and I’ve never forgotten how much fun and how inspiring it was. So I look forward to her blog posts and when this one came I thought it was as usual great and assumed that a lot of other people would have great ideas for why change/learning is a good thing for them, and moved on. Lee Ann is working away in Africa right now doing good works, but still taking time to send this out to the world – surely the world will respond?  . . .  It makes me think of a recent conversation some of us were part of about community: how do we engage community? I think we are the community: let’s engage. So now I wonder if we can create some momentum and get this list even beyond the 50 good reasons to change and learn and grow that she aspires to. So if you have a moment, go to the blog, read the list, add to it, and maybe even pass this on to people who inspire you, or people you like to be with as you learn and grow. My big reason to embrace change and learning is that it allows me to keep growing my own network of people that interest and inspire me. Lately I wonder if it’s about “learning” or if it’s really about being part of a “tribe” in right relationship, moving in the same direction. Which you all are part of. What’s your reason to learn/change/grow? Let’s see if we can even inspire Lee Ann the inspirer 🙂

And I tweeted and Facebooked and instant-messaged people.   It was a great experiment.   And now the list has gone, as of right now, from 30 to about 70 really great reasons to change.   (As of this moment when I’m about to hit the “publish” button there are 44 responses, each of which Lee Anne has responded to and she seems to be enjoying it!  Some people have half a dozen ideas so I think we’re well over 100 now!)   People are being thoughtful and inspired (and inspiring).   Some of them I know – and I know how busy they are and it’s so great they took a moment to respond, and some of them are friends of friends who got the forwarded email, and some of them are strangers that got attracted to the idea that there’s a party happening over here where everyone is talking about loving change/learning/growth.  And there are people from all over the world, from big cities and very rural areas.   So, if you haven’t already, you can go there now and add your own reasons for why you love change/growth/learning.   Because if you didn’t love those things you wouldn’t have read this far 🙂

Feel free to forward this to people who inspire you or who you’d like to invite to the party.   We’re kind of gate-crashers but we’re the best kind and really welcome!

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