What’s the ROI of belonging & trust?

Written by Amelia Terrapin

January 21, 2022

You never know exactly when or how a group will activate as an ensemble.

For a team of 5 teachers in Wyoming, it happened on a Saturday night as we were celebrating their completion of the Bold Moves course. When we started together they were burned out, feeling a general sense of malaise about the culture of their school and their profession as a whole. We spent 5 sessions learning about living systems, cultivating belonging and trust, and articulating their deep shared purpose as educators.

And then it happened, right there on that last call. One teacher mentioned that she was designing a professional development session for the whole school. Someone chimed in with an idea. Another person upped the ante by offering to participate.

Within minutes they were off to the races, powered by their collective creativity and inspiration. They had erupted into an ensemble… effortlessly, joyfully organizing into action.

All 5 of them ended up designing and delivering the session together, sharing the infectious ensemble energy with the rest of their school (and they had a blast doing it).

Afterwards, one of them said…

“If we had been asked to do a professional development session for the whole school it would have felt like one more task on a long list of tasks. But because it emerged out of our sense of belonging with each other, it was so much fun!”

These teachers committed to investing 5 hours of their personal time in forging the belonging and trust that gives rise to bold moves. Their experience beautifully illustrates the power of ensembles… they went from feeling frustrated by their culture to feeling inspired to steward it.

These teachers even gave their ensemble a name; here’s a shout out to The Thunder Sisters and the incredible work they are doing in Teton County School District.

In a world where we’re so focused on measurable and quantifiable outcomes, it takes an act of leadership to prioritize the moves that are harder to quantify. What’s the return on investment of ensemble building? How can you quantify the feeling of aliveness and creativity that emerges out of trusting, purposeful relationships?

Where could you make a micro investment of time and energy in your team’s aliveness and belonging this week?

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