meeting the moment

Not long ago, I presented a webinar for Bloomerang on Organizational Planning in Times of Uncertainty. One of the questions that came up was how to meet, receive and be present for the challenging moment that we’re in: In our turbulent time, so many leaders, friends and colleagues are struggling with meeting the moment. We’re a little more than one month away from what some have called the most consequential election of our lifetimes. There is so much suffering now: Over two hundred thousand Americans have died of COVID-19 and millions of Americans are facing the economic hardship brought on by the pandemic. The COVID-19 pandemic has disproportionately hit our Black and Latinx population, who are already experiencing the pandemic of racial violence. In my home state of California, we’ve faced three rounds of wildfires burning almost 4 million acres of land – effectively the mirror of what happened in Australia’s summer to close out 2019.

It is hard to fault any one of us for being overwhelmed, for not wanting to know, for turning to fear and misinformation as a way to tune out the truth.

And yet – I want to share three sources that speak to meeting the moment:

  1. One is Margaret Wheatley. Margaret Wheatley has written about and worked on leadership for over 50 years. Now 77, Wheatley’s most recent book asks this exact question, Who Do We Chose to Be? Facing Reality, Claiming Leadership, Restoring Sanity. Her thesis is that, at this challenging moment, we must be warriors of compassion who support others to recognize the present situation and bring out generosity, insight and compassion in all.
  2. Second is Resmaa Menakem. Menakem’s book My Grandmother’s Hands explores the trauma of racism on Black bodies, white bodies and police bodies. Menakem argues that all bodies hold the multi-generational trauma of racism (whether as perpetuators or victims) at a somatic level and can only let go of that trauma through doing body-based practices, such as meditation, reflection, singing or rocking, to acknowledge and process this violence and settle ourselves. Menakem teaches that meeting the moment – and moving to a more compassionate one – is only possible through an awareness of what we’re feeling – and allowing space for those feelings to move through us.
  3. And lastly, Ruth Bader Ginsberg who we so sadly laid to rest recently. So many dimensions of how she is a heroine and paved the way for justice and gender equality. What resonates with me the most is that she held on to her vision of justice without fear.

Whether or not we feel ready to meet these challenging times, we have an important moment coming in a little over a month. For me, I do not take it lightly as it comes looming with the risk of our democracy in its throes. These are the things that I keep in front of me as I rise to meeting the moment. I ask that you join me and, please, no matter which way you bend politically, VOTE! [Note that nonprofit organizations are unable to endorse individual candidates, but can encourage stakeholders to participate in democracy by voting.]

We are also meeting the moment by launching a six-week live online course on Equitable Board Building, which starts October 21. Clients, colleagues and students have expressed a hunger for tools and frameworks to move towards racial equity in their boards and organizations. This course utilizes the frameworks we share with clients and students in a cohort-based experience to move on a path towards anti-racism. More information here.

I believe this is the path in front of us. To review:

  • Be warriors of compassion
  • Recognize the trauma and violence of racism, take active steps to let it move through us so we can move to anti-racism
  • Without fear, speak up for and hold on to our visions of justice

Sending strength to each of you through the roller coaster of this time. And if you want to share, we’re eager to hear: how you are meeting the moment?

Renee Rubin Ross Ph.D
Dr. Renee Rubin Ross is a nationally recognized leader on board and organizational development and strategy and the founder of The Ross Collective, a consulting firm that designs and leads inclusive, participatory processes for social sector boards and staff. Committed to racial equity in the nonprofit sector, Dr. Ross supports organizations and individuals in practices that celebrate and amplify diverse voices and perspectives. In addition to her consulting work, Dr. Ross is the Director of the Cal State University East Bay Nonprofit Management Certificate program and teaches Board Development and Grant Writing for the program. Dr. Ross lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her family. She is a Board member of the Alliance for Nonprofit Management. Her Doctorate in Education and Jewish Studies from New York University explored parent participation in schools. Renee’s hobbies including running, hiking, playing guitar and baking sourdough bread.