10 Lessons in 10 Months as a Faiths Act Fellow
As I am sure anyone can guess from keeping up with the Faiths Act Fellows, it has been an exciting, challenging, and very busy year, and I’ll be the first to admit that it generally takes me a few months after an experience like this to really reflect on what I have learned. Luckily though, Adeela and I wrote down one lesson we learned each month, as we were in the thick of interfaith organizing in the DC area. I present to you a glance (albeit incomplete) at a few practical things I have learned as a Faiths Act Fellow over the last 10 months:
- When managing multiple projects, a clear overview can help you avoid getting overwhelmed. Even if it ends up changing, a road-map can help you at least know where you are going!
- Learn from the leaders and the pros. Seek out those who have gone before you for advice and connections.
- When working with diverse groups, uniting over common goals can help you to work through some of the obvious tensions and allow space for different approaches.
- It’s important to understand your environment. For example, Washington, DC is a very transient place, as people are often moving to or away from the city. In such a place, flexibility was just part of where we were located, and it was helpful that we acknowledged this early on.
- Start with conversations. Some of the best relationships we developed over the course of the fellowship started with casual conversations.
- When meeting with people you hope to work with, it can be beneficial to name-drop the well-respected organizations you are already working with. Credibility is a good thing. :)
- Accept failure early on, so you can learn from it and move on to bigger and better things. Although perseverance can be a good thing, it is also important to acknowledge when something just isn’t working out, and not let it slow you down too much.
- Understand that people have different working and communication styles. As a professor of mine in college used to say, “It’s not a bad thing, it’s just a thing.” When you treat it as such and figure out how to best work with the people around you, everyone is happier.
- Face-to-face interactions are ideal, but when that isn’t possible, phone calls are way better than mass e-mails. Take the time to show that you care about individuals, and it will most likely be reciprocated!
- You can never start too early! Before you know it a year will go by!
To learn more about some of what the Faiths Act Fellows in DC did this year, check out this blog from Sojourners covering our World Malaria Day benefit concert! You can read the blog here: http://sojo.net/blogs/2012/05/01/world-malaria-day-concert-sierra-leone.