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Empathetic Ecosystem Building

One person, in one room, mentioned my name and it led to an ocean of opportunities, meaningful work, and deep connections across several years. As I was reflecting on this rich experience, the word estuary popped into my mind. I wasn’t sure what it meant, but when I looked up the definition, it all made sense.


An estuary is a place where rivers and streams connect to meet the ocean. When I connected with the people in that room, just like an estuary, we co-created a very productive ecosystem. We connected with one another then made connections for one another to other people, opportunities, resources, and experiences. It was the essence and epitome of transformative relationships.


In the book The Four Pivots: Reimagining Justice, Reimagining Ourselves, Dr. Shawn A. Ginwright talks about moving from transactional to transformative relationships. As I observe how business is done both on and offline, I’m noticing how much is simply transactional. Little time or space is set aside for deep, authentic connection. Many of our interactions are focused on to-do list items, deadlines, sales, or metrics. As if we are machines, I rarely see us centering our healing and humanity.


During my first meeting with this group, I started by facilitating a storytelling activity that gave the members an opportunity to be vulnerable and share who they were beyond their leadership titles. This intentional space for deep connection obliterated barriers and created a clear path for collaboration and moving the work forward. Sometimes people think of these types of activities as a waste of time, but I view them as an accelerator that helps us to get further faster because we’ve elevated trust and transparency.

Here are some questions to consider as you build your empathetic ecosystem.


How might you move from transactional to transformative relationships in your work and life?


Who are the rivers and streams in your estuary that could lead you all to an ocean of possibilities?


How will you work towards building an empathetic ecosystem in your organization, family, or community where healing and humanity are centered?

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