“Togetherness is a practice. At the practice center we have a unique opportunity to live closely with friends from many different countries and backgrounds.
Together we form one sangha body, connected by the practice of mindfulness. With our collective energy of calming and looking deeply, it is possible for us to support each other on the path of transformation.
This requires cooperation, skillfulness, and acceptance. To live amongst each other, we need to cultivate understanding, communication, and a willing heart.
Let us take the time to get to know the people around us. We have neglected our neighbors for too long.”
Trusting and building relationships are both at the center of my life and career. I believe my leadership style has its roots in trust and empowering others.
Take a recent experience as an example of a complete breakdown of long relationships and trust. I will use this story to explain, but names and places will not be revealed, nor specifically that would be too close to home.
We went on a drive north to Washington State recently to visit with old friends & colleagues. Maybe we would take a long vacation there, and work on a community building project.
I got my start there long ago in public service and community building. It was a wonderful place with loving, kind, and compassionate folks who cared about all of us, not just some of us.
Once we got there, hung out for awhile, met up with old friends who had invited me to consider coming back for awhile to help the community. Seems they were having a few challenges, but they were not revealed to me until that evening over dinner at our favorite Italian restaurant in town.
Scotty Zimmerman and his wife Janice were fun loving people who lived in this rural mountain community of 3000 citizens all their lives. We joked, laughed, cried, hugged and told stories of battles fought, some lost, but mostly winning the wars of town politics and advancing the betterment of our great town.
But, when Scotty got around to talk of the business at hand, after dessert and while drinking another glass of wine, he started sharing things that made my heart sink with sadness. “Steve, the town has slipped back to a dark place we’ve never known existed before now ”
He started sharing how divisive our town of so much pride has become in recent years, especially since Covid put things on hold. “Worse, than the big fires in the 90s, Steve,” he said while his chin dropped. Janice started crying in that moment. Judy hugged her
Scotty shared that retail went south, tourists stayed home, folks lost jobs while politicians became torn between good ethics, moral values and looking the other way.
Checks and balances seemed to have been lost in the shuffle of despair, while town leaders and businesses got creative with grants and public funds. Bribes and favors became the norm too.
“All of it seems to have led to crime and corruption we’ve never seen before. It’s Disgusting and despicable, Steve!” He groaned angrily. Janice cried more, while Judy hugged her and cried too.
Then, Scotty asked me, “What should we do?” I gave him my answer.
“You both have done your best with love, hearts and souls ♥️ It’s time to forgive and move on. Pass the torch, move to Uganda with us.”