It only took the first gathering of our 8-woman group, called the Hive, and a follow-on conversation with my assigned buddy, Kim, for the magic to appear. I call it magic, but I know that it’s a proven process that begins when I feel energy start to move up and down my legs. That’s always an indication to me that my heart is opening and I’m on the right path.
The intent of the Hive is to help each other emerge in areas of our lives where we want to expand. In philosophy, science, and art, emergence is a phenomenon whereby larger entities arise through interactions with smaller or simpler entities. The Hive has already shown me that this emergence phenomenon really works!
We started with Kim sharing her story. As I listened and reflected her feelings, and then shared my story, I was aware of how the topic of aging was present in both. Then when Kim so skillfully captured the essence of what I said, I was amazed. She admitted that she has a strong ability to “recognize the intersection points.” What a gift for a technologist like Kim. It felt magical to me.
I had shared with Kim the recent developments of my consulting company.
My business partner and I had just hiked up California’s Mt. Tam to stay at an Inn for an overnight strategy session. We wanted to bring new insights to companies whose competitive cultures were getting in the way of their success, but as we hiked I remembered my most recent synchronistic experience. It had nothing to do with corporations. It started with family.
My mother had experienced a difficult transition to an independent living situation last year and called me 6 weeks after moving in. She complained about being forced into Goodwin House, but I sensed that her underlying concern was isolation and loneliness. I wanted to find a way to help her. She’s adjusting now, but I sometimes still feel the sting of her tears when I remember our talk.
My faith in synchronicity often pushes me forward when I need to find solutions. Here’s how it happened this time.
While looking at LinkedIn I saw that a prior colleague, Lisa, had been named to the Goodwin House Board of Trustees. When I reconnected with her, Lisa asked if I remembered working with Lindsay from H&K Consulting. The name sounded familiar, but it took a few moments for me to remember because her name was spoken out of context.
Lindsay was the very person at Goodwin who I had negotiated with as I was advocating for my mother prior to her move. Lindsay had been a colleague of Lisa’s and was now the Strategy and Marketing Officer at Goodwin. She had called Lisa to discuss the board membership. What a small world!
I told Lisa about my business and how we were branching out to develop a program for the elder population, a name that I use with great respect and for all of us who are aging. I explained that my partner and I provide tools to help elders learn how to communicate in ways that connect the community on a deeper level. We are calling this ELITE, I said, which stands for Elders Living Independently Together – an Experiment. The name came to me during our Mt Tam hike.
Lisa told me that my timing was impeccable because she had just been named to the strategic committee and was tasked with coming back to the Board with new ideas to support their members. She agreed to take our proposal to their Board in a week’s time.
After I recounted this story to Kim, she said she’d heard connections in my story between Corporate and Elders, which are our two business interests.
First, Kim said it was interesting that Lisa and Lindsay were both from the corporate world and are both now in this new world of elders, a world that my business partner and I are drawn to.
Secondly, I had talked with Kim about other cultures, and in mythology, as I remembered later, where elders are considered the wise members of society, who offer counsel and deep meaning to their families. Kim said the elders in Goodwin might be living a more “corporate” life with less intimacy. This phenomenon often exists with a “set of rules” culture within a staffed facility.
It was striking to think about the similarities, even if one is living in a hierarchy that only exists in their minds. As an example, one building at Goodwin, where units are more expensive, is separate from another, where my mom lives. I’ve heard people say that there is a definite difference in class structure. It makes some members of the community feel ostracized, living with a mentality of them versus us. That elitist concept feels familiar to me from my corporate life.
And finally, the company name ELITE, which at first held a negative connotation in my mind, sounded positive to Kim, like corporate in the sense of high performance, singular and special. It is now being offered to a group of elders, who have the potential to reconnect, and contribute in ways that perhaps they cannot even imagine today.
What a great buddy conversation it was for me!
Then Kim asked the final question. What step will you take to move your miracle forward? I felt uneasy and nervous with my first thought. It had been 5 years since I spoke to Mellody Hobson after interviewing her on the stage at Fannie Mae. I didn’t want to reconnect with a request, but when Kim asked me what was emerging in my life, I realized that helping elders through this amazing and proven process was where I wanted to emerge. So I took a deep breath and sent an email to Mellody.
She responded within 30 minutes with this note: “It would be great to see you. I’m in Marin tomorrow. Are you free on Friday?” I finally remembered to trust myself and it brought, as always, an unexpected opportunity. I’ll keep you posted!