Musings from Yoxi Founder, Sharon Chang
I just returned to my desk after another somewhat awkward, somewhat lovely Zoom holiday party. It’s December 23rd — a day that has always, for the past several years, marked the beginning of my year-end reflection. I was happy to see many dear friends on screen. The festive virtual toasts reminded me of how fortunate I am to have the time, space, and community to nurture my life-long learning journey. Like everything else in this turbulent year, my journey has felt extremely uncomfortable. It has been a bumpy train ride at the speed of light through an endless dark tunnel; a cacophony of sorrow, anger, and fear — loud and sharp like a knife cutting my consciousness into little pieces adrift in a sea of uncertainty; a liminal space that threatens to linger until I surrender. But I’ve yet to learn how to surrender.
After sharing some early thoughts on what the pandemic meant to me when the shockwave of COVID first hit the U.S., I have been on a rollercoaster ride of competing emotions as I attempt to offer my heart and soul to support an ecosystem of change: change that I have been championing for a long time; change that honors the values of imagination, justice, inclusion, and shared prosperity; change that has become painfully urgent as we walk down an increasingly probable path of humanity’s self-destruction unless we confront our biggest enemy — a mindset that refuses to acknowledge our interdependence — with courage and honesty. My competing emotions came from the realization that we need everybody to change, ourselves included. It dawned on me that I can no longer hold my own ideology without listening to someone else’s reasons against it, because we both need to change in order to reach what we have in common, which is often buried in a deeper layer underneath the surface of how we are different. Yet trying to listen deeply to “the other side” in a world framed in a black and white dichotomy triggers discomfort, and such discomfort can turn into temptation to second-guess my commitment to building Shared Futures.
To put things in concrete and practical terms, I placed Yoxi on the back burner during the first half of 2020 so I could focus on building a strong community with the Guild of Future Architects (GoFA). As the pandemic continued to expose multiple facets of structural inequality robbing vulnerable communities of their basic human rights, I needed a supercharged sense of camaraderie to feel confident about investing with a long view when so many problems urgently needed quick solutions. I needed to justify the choice to invest in the not-yet-visible human potential — our ancient and shared memory waiting to be activated through deep listening — so we can reach a state of balance, harmony, and universal resonance.
The result is more integration between GoFA and Yoxi. After investing in GoFA’s inaugural Shared Future Incubator, Yoxi formed a small community of practice to better understand how to steward resources for Shared Futures. I named this effort Future of Investing (FoI). With the support of brilliant collaborators such as Hearken co-founder Jennifer Brandel, SOCAP co-founder Mark Beam, and Integral Master Coach Joran Luftig, I gave myself permission to put a hold on operationalizing Yoxi 9.0. Instead of bringing in a new Executive Director, I opted for a longer period of emergence, resisted the compulsion to “do” more, and created space to absorb the anxiety of feeling a little lost, a little scared, and a little guilty.
I know this is somewhat of an unusual update after I announced the plan in 2019 to chart a clear path for Yoxi 9.0. If it’s hard to show vulnerability as an individual, it’s even harder to do so as an organization. I am grateful for the support of those who have been patiently following Yoxi’s learning journey, as it is to a large degree an extension of my own personal learning journey. As we bid farewell to 2020, I want to add a thank-you note to the much-anticipated goodbye. This year has been extraordinarily challenging, but the cascading challenges forged a stronger commitment for me to seek truth and beauty despite sometimes harboring an unhealthy amount of doubt. The gift of this pandemic shall not be wasted, because we have lost too much already.
Heading into 2021, I humbly invite you to take on the Yoxi persona from time to time: ask more questions without expecting quick answers; pay attention to your heart more than your mind; listen to “the other side” to see yourself with empathy, however impossible it may seem; make an investment in a Shared Future with the money and/or time you can spare, or simply offer a nod of encouragement when you encounter an unexpected approach that might just change our collective trajectory for the better.
I look forward to a more upbeat 2021 as I raise another glass over Zoom to toast all of us for being resilient through transformation.