Saturday, June 09, 2007

Inappropriate Pride

I shouldn't feel it.

I shouldn't say it.

I certainly shouldn't write it.

But I'm going to.

Yesterday at Dick Sobsey's presentation about how to create safe places for people with disabilities to live and work, Vita's Personal Development Committee made it's public debut. Several weeks ago we met and I asked them to prepare to present at the Sobsey conference and they did as I knew they would, they greeted the challenge with enthusiasm and determination. An amazing group of staff.

The main reason I am working at Vita is to be part of a process and to observe a process of an agency going through changes to actively become a Safe Haven for those in care. I spent two months reading the literature and then coming up with what is simply called, Vita's Process for Change. From there it's been slightly over a year that we've made change after change after change in the agency. It's like we have shone a light on every aspect of our service and asked simply, can we make this safer.

One of the things we did was create a team of dedicated staff that work together, but with focus on three areas. Relationship Training, Abuse Prevention Training and Self Advocacy. We interviewed, then hired, then trained staff. Some (1) came from management but the rest comes from Vita's front line. Then they set about doing the work. It's been amazing to watch them learn and grow. As individuals. As a group. As a team.

As they prepared to present yesterday, I received from each team their speeches and questions about what they needed to include. I want to be clear here. Their work required little editting. Very minor suggestions about wording changes or things to add, but that's it. They could have done it without me and without my little contributions. But I was glad to be part of their process as they readied themselves for their first public presenation as a team.

It was arranged for them to go on after lunch. Each was nervous. Each wanted to do well, as much for Vita, the team, the people we serve as for themselves. You could see the pride that each person had in the work that they did. So they presented and each did brilliantly. They were alive. They were funny. They were informative.

And I felt a weird feeling.

One I shouldn't mention.

I felt a kind of paternal pride in their accomplishment. This is weird because we're all adults albeit that I'm way more adult than they are and I recognize that this was their accomplishment, not mine. But I felt it anyways.

For years I have worked independently as a consultant in a freelance capacity. In the last year, though, the nature of the work has had me working in teams and with others in a very different way. While I provide supervision and direction to the Personal Development Committee and while I am involved in the selection of team members, I didn't expect to have this deep sense of accomplishment and, paternal pride, that I did yesterday.

We humans are weird, and I'm amongst that group.

While driving to the airport to get Dick to his flight, he mentioned the presentation by the group. He said, "It heartening to see a group of young people who are committed and who 'get it' and who want to make a difference."

Tears welled up in my eyes and I looked out the window and said.

"You're right, Dick, it is."


lina said...

I don't know that this was entirely inappropriate pride. I know I speak for many when I say we are truly appreciative of your leadership and teaching.
And it was truly an amazing presentation!

Anonymous said...

Lina, My thoughts exactly.

Dave, you appear to be very reflective of what you do and say and how this is useful or not. Count the number of time you have kicked yourself when you feel you could have done something differently.

I think leaders could possibly allow themselves to feel a sense of pride, when they may have in part helped or inspired some great work?

Not detracting from those who have done the work but indeed celebrating with them what they have achieved and being glad of your role within making it good. However direct or indirect your involvement was, I would be willing to bet your leadership had a part!!

Again, thanks for another hope giving story. If one team can do that, then others can too.

Belinda said...

This is a wonderfully public place to say bravo!

Bravo to Vita for organizing a wonderful presentation yesterday--which I was at--to Manuela Dalla Nora--their Executive Director, that wonderful young team who bravely overcame their nerves, Dave--their fearless coach and mentor and the self advocates who spoke with a quiet confidence in front of an audience that would have had me quaking and shaking at the knees.

Vita set a great example of putting actions to inspiring words.
You all have every reason to be proud!