Top 10 Reflections of 2016

Written by Founder and CEO, Sara Potler LaHayne

In the spirit of the holidays, part of my yearly tradition is to write a letter of gratitude to the entire Move This World team, publicly sharing what I appreciate about each of them as individual contributors to this organization and as human beings. And at the end of each year, I share our highlights- both ones where we’ve risen strong and moments of utter failure and learning- because reflection breeds optimism. By building in a practice of regular, consistent reflection, not only do we cultivate more gratitude and satisfaction in our lives and work, but we also can set aside intentions to do better next time.

Without further ado, here are our top 10 personal reflections on 2016, hoping to in turn strengthen our sense of self and breed more optimism for 2017.

1). Hello, Nashville.

This school year we are excited to be working with Nashville Public Schools to prioritize social and emotional learning throughout the instructional day. Shared one teacher at Meigs Magnet Middle School:

“I have a student in my homeroom class who, at the beginning of the year, had some serious anger problems. He would refuse to do his math because he wanted to read, he would throw his school supplies around, and was very disrespectful. After doing the Move This World program, I can tell that he has calmed down significantly. He and I have even had meaningful conversations about what is going on in his head.”

2). It’s not about us.

A Move This World trainer has never stepped foot in a Nashville school, but Move This World programs are being implemented with the highest level of fidelity – yes, every single day- because through our tech platform, we’re able to track usage of every educator, every morning and every afternoon, practicing tools in emotional management and expression in their classroom. Teachers have not missed a beat, and they don’t need us on campus to hold their hand and inspire them. They’ve got this.

3). Science only goes so far.

We have been obsessed with monitoring and evaluating our impact since day one. When you’re in the business of cultivating “soft skills” through creative expression, it’s doubly important that you emphasize the validated measures used to evaluate changes in behavior. But now that we all accept the effects of trauma and stress on the brain, we can do better sharing the beautiful stories from the field of our partners finding ways to express themselves and build more authentic, resilient communities.

4). Building a habit means a daily practice.

If I work out once, it doesn’t mean I’m fit and healthy. Exercise and eating well are a part of our overall lifestyle. Being emotionally well does not mean we take an EQ certification course and then we have checked the box and are emotionally intelligent. We must exercise our empathetic muscles by building in a daily practice of checking in with ourselves and one another in order to have the tools and access them when we need them.

5). If it’s not easy, we won’t do it every day.

Even if we believe something to be important, if it’s too much effort, or takes too much time, forget it. We worked to make our tools easy to use and just a few minutes each. Our new platform takes users on a journey where new tools are unlocked automatically as they progress. Don’t have Wi-fi? No problem. Just use the app on your mobile or tablet.

6). Engaging with the screen is surprisingly comforting, and emotional.

As a team made up of artists, educators and practitioners, 2016 has been about an organizational identity change. Once we realized partners wanted easy to use tools delivered digitally, we became a tech organization. We were nervous how people would feel engaging with a screen to share their stressors and emotions instead of with one of our trainers on-site. To our surprise, we are not just comfortable with the screen, many of us- especially our students- prefer the screen, and are eager to engage with the tools in order to open up and create more expressive, connected spaces.

7). Self work is hard.

Not everyone may be open and ready to do self work. It requires deep reflection and honesty in order to arrive at the level of self awareness necessary to inspire meaningful progress. And to do the self work means we have to be vulnerable, sometimes in the face of friends and colleagues. In the past, Move This World required all educators working with students to do the self work, and this year we learned that not everyone is ready to go there. We still believe it’s a critical part of building supportive, resilient communities, but in the event you’re not quite comfortable, we’re not going to force your hand at it. We’ll start instead with the tools for your students.

8). This work is for everyone.

In 2016, we watched engineers and Baltimore principals and charter school teachers and insurance brokers all exercise their minds and their hearts, strengthening their own wellbeing and that of their respective communities. We all experience stress, and we all navigate changes in life that would be made easier with a little emotional support. Emotional wellbeing does not discriminate.

9). We’ve got our eyes on you. 

Each user on the Move This World platform has a unique login, and we’re able to track analytics on your usage. This means you can’t claim to be working out your empathy muscle and then really be faking it. We see when and how often you log in, which helps us support you in practicing emotional management tools in real time, with fidelity.

10). We’re not going anywhere.

This year we celebrated our 6th birthday. The Bureau of Labor Statistics found that only about 50% of all new businesses survive their first five years, and we are proud to be part of that percentage. Learning communities have made it clear that they need solutions like Move This World. Our product gets better every day, through the feedback of our thoughtful, caring partners. And Team MTDubz is the strongest it’s ever been, actively listening to our users and re-calibrating as we go. I had the opportunity to take a 6 week sabbatical, completely offline and off the grid. To them, the on-the-ground warriors who lead with all their heart and soul, I am deeply grateful, and excited for what we will create and inspire in 2017.

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