Do YOUR priorities reflect the best use of your time?


What gifts can you offer and why do YOU invest your time in some ways instead of others?

Why do develop some skills over others?

We did a little self-introspection, which led us to understand that the question we really needed to be asking was whether we had a healthy relationship with the expectations we set for ourselves.

We also wanted to understand whether the way we shaped our priorities reflected the best use of our time.

How healthy is your relationship with:

  1. to understand your strengths, __insert any efforts you’ve contributed that you feel proud of ___
  2. to understand your opportunities for improvement, __insert any area that presents a pain point ___

In thinking about how you spend your time,

do YOUR priorities reflect the best use of your energy and time?

How would you approach assessing that?


Are there any unintended consequences you may be unaware of as the result of not knowing the answer to these questions?

Are there any benefits or downsides to being completely aware of how effectively you’re using your time?


What does a healthy relationship look like?


Holding space for other people can be challenging at times.

One of the quickest ways to

hold space for others when you’re ill-equipped to respond the way the other person would like

minimize the risk of moral injury and/or

improve the quality of your relationships

is ask yourself this one question:

What does ‘healthy’ look like for THIS relationship?

How do our actions contribute or create barriers toward creating the relationship dynamic to which we aspire? And what is our motivation for these actions?

Investigating this answer led us to understand that the question we really needed to be asking was whether our expectations of the people who interacted with and/or the behaviors we contribute aligned with the outcomes to which we aspired.

Are we displaying the type of behaviors we need to bring out the best in our relationships?

What makes a great community?


What makes a great community?

What is our role in our toward shaping this community and why have we chosen to participate in THIS role versus others?

Exploring the answers to these questions led us to understand that the question we really needed to be asking was whether we had a healthy understanding of what makes up a community and how we understand our relationships within our communities.

Do we have a healthy relationship with our expectations and understanding of what community means?

What kind of resources exists in our community (and to whom)?

Why are these resources distributed in this way?

What responsibility, if any, do we have to ensure that our contributions prevent barriers rather than create barriers for those who can’t afford access to an equitable distribution of resources?

I would encourage you to work through the following questions with the folks in your community that you engage with?

  • What do you enjoy about being apart of a community?
  • What have you found challenging?
  • What would you like to see?

How do your answers align with those of the folks in your community that you interact with?


Do you have a healthy relationship with those you work with?


When we’re coordinating with other organizers to contribute our efforts, what does our organization or initiative DO?

In addition to asking the boilerplate questions:

  • What are the functional requirements we need to do the work well?
  • Who is the work for?
  • What kind of outcomes do we expect to get out of it?

We realized was that the question we really needed to be asking was whether the stakeholders and people we worked with shared the same expectations about what we do and why we do the work that we contribute.

How are we engaging stakeholders to make sure we have a shared understanding of our purpose, direction, goals, and which contributions are needed to reach our anticipated outcomes?

How do we lead up effectively and secure buy-in when our functional hierarchy operates in a command and control structure?

How do we create a healthy working relationship in an environment where personalities, communication styles, and conflict styles may differ?

How do we create an environment where all of the contributors feel empowered to do their best work but understand that they are valued for more than just their transactional contributions?

How do we best respect and celebrate one another’s contributions and time?

Is it possible to have healthy relationships with Institutions

financial crisis

How can you have a healthy relationship with something you don’t understand and/or how it exists?

For the purposes of this discussion, we’re going to define the concept of the institution as a collective of stakeholders, organizations, that operate according to a set of consistent and organized patterns of behavior or activities (established by a law or custom) that is self-regulating and adheres to a set of generally accepted norms.

The example provided by the Business Dictionary describes

  • political institutions as the kinds of entities which are involved with (and regulate) competition for power; and
  • economic institutions (such as markets) as the kinds of entities that encourage and regulate the production and distribution of goods and services (e.g. jobs, housing, etc).

Is it even possible to have healthy relationships with institutions when

  • they’re complex
  • they’re massive, and
  • our relationships with the sources of these instutions both DO and DON’T actually EXIST?

When we assessed this question in the scope of our own roles in society, it became easy to acknowledge that most individual people aren’t institutions  (which is ironic because tax structures often treat institutional & regulatory entities as if they are accountable for their own fiduciary and tax liability)…, yet they often have actors which represent some functional role within them that have consequences upon the people we can actually see and interact with?

An institution is different than an action or process like movement in that you can ask yourself whether you have a healthy relationship with movement and begin to dissect which benchmarks and attributes you can measure to begin to develop some kind of answer to that question.

Whereas, you can ask the same question about whether you have a healthy understanding of institutions when trying to make sense of why — for example, a vacant and abandoned property, which attracts crime in your neighborhood can’t be rehabbed if your city is facing an affordable housing crisis or high rates of homelessness.

Even if you were to go down to your local urban planning office to find out why this problem exists, there are so many pieces and parts which may contribute to why these conditions exist, that it’s impossible for one single person to know what’s involved, who to appeal to, or how to fix it.

For example, in the housing scenario, the vacant property may be deeded to a person who no longer owns the property, may actually be in possession of lending institutions like Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac, may have federal and municipal liens or other title issues placed on the property which makes it impossible for a community development corporation who’d like to put the property back into productive use, and the local agency that manages land use development may not have access to records from lending institutions to know who’s  in possession of a piece of property. These zombie properties may be dropped from a financial institution’s asset portfolio once an appraiser decides that a piece of property is not a worthwhile investment and the bank may not even aware that they own it after a certain amount of time has passed because they don’t have a system in place for assessing it after it’s been appraised as a property considered to be worthless.

There may be many broken parts of a system or disorganized processes that you may be unaware of which influence why despite the best efforts of yourself, local organizers, and your local government can’t just fix up abandoned properties for the homeless.

So when we consider which questions we should be asking about what our relationship is with institutions and why we have the relationship that we do with them, what we realized was that the question we really needed to be asking was how do institutions shape our experiences toward one another, as individuals, and as a community?

Is our relationship with our understanding of institutions healthy?

If it is in some cases, how does that relationship differ from the institutions with which we don’t have healthy relationships?
What is our role in repairing our fractured understanding of institutions and their impacts?

If we need to organize and form strategic partnerships to improve our relationships with institutions, how can we approach that in a way that allows us to be effective while also acknowledging needs that compete for our energy, efforts, and time?

Why does policy exist?

Why do policies exist? What is our responsibility when they have unintended consequences that jeopardize the health of the individual, our relationships, our communities, our work, and institutions?
If we need to organize and form strategic partnerships to improve policies (or the lack thereof) how can we approach that work in a way that allows us to be effective while also acknowledging needs that compete for our energy, efforts, and time?
How would YOU go about investigating or addressing this question?

Does Criticism Matter?

Stay Tuned!

When we’re working on the front lines of advocacy and direct service, how do we weigh the feedback we receive to create the best possible impact?


image quote says
When does feedback matter? When is it appropriate to ignore it?


Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below as we explore the role feedback plays in our work as advocates.