May 6, 2019 Blog No Comments

I had another wonderful consulting experience that highlighted what happens when collaboration and compassion take the lead. This time I was in South Carolina, in a county that lives in the shadow of its bigger sisters. Yet, what I saw was a wonderful reminder of what can happen when positive values are the forefront of the agenda.

Despite limited resources and not feeling their needs are priorities in the state, this community has developed a high degree of collaboration. The organizer was the Sheriff who has inspired the large group, a cross section of people involved in criminal justice and mental health provision, to think about what would make their community a better place. This brought the Judge, district attorney, public defender, city council, mental health providers, substance abuse providers, emergency room doctors, police, faith based volunteers and consumers all together in the same room. Their agenda, to figure out how to collaborate to create meaningful change, created great excitement.

What took place was impressive. In a short two days, they developed a big picture of change with action plans. I have no doubt they’ll make it work. Here’s what I noticed:

People Eagerly Come Together

When people are inspired to come together for a greater good, there is positive energy and willingness. Seeing that many public officials, with different political aims and affiliations, gather with a simple agenda is a beautiful thing.

It’s a reminder that we truly want to work together, when given the chance. The usual polarizing focus on dissension, conflict and negativity made this exchange even more poignant. It’s a chance to see what is really possible when there is opportunity.

Typical Barriers Come Down

So often the finances and funding structure keep people from being collaborative. People and agencies tend to compete for limited resources, so when that doesn’t happen, it is a beautiful and hopeful example that invites a new model of success.

It seemed that the call to action around positive values of making a difference in the community and helping people live more productive lives’ hit a chord for them. There was no division around party lines or religious affiliations, they want to serve a common interest- to help people recover and be diverted from the criminal justice system.

Creativity Compensates For Lack Of Resources

Given the lack of financial resources there was a determination to find other ways to solve problems. It spurred wonderful creative thinking and collaboration between agencies. Organizations can give people-hours to make things happen with no new dollars spent.

Big plans were made with this type of creative thinking. In short order within hours, this group developed detailed plans to create several new service delivery systems. A new court, a new training program, and new ways to utilize peer support were all developed. Impressive.

It’s Self-Reinforcing

Just as I was impressed, they were pleased with themselves as well. It was a reminder of my favorite quote:

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has” Margaret Mead

When they stood back at the end of the two days and saw the proof of what they accomplished, it was a gratifying and self-reinforcing moment. Everyone left happy.

This consulting and training trip was gratifying for me because I saw in action the values and beliefs I hold dear. When you lead with compassion first and seek to collaborate with others, people rush in to join. The walls that divide people come tumbling down. Creativity compensates for lack of resources and the entire process becomes self-sustaining.

Is this a reminder of the kind of work or environment you’d like to be putting your talents in? It makes a difference in how you feel about yourself and life. If you’d like support and guidance to get there, my Transformational Life Coaching is designed to help. Reach out to me at www.spectrumtransformation and use the Free Consultation link to let me know of your interest. I’d love to hear from you.


Written by Connie Milligan, LCSW
If there is anything I’ve expressed that speaks to you, I’d love to hear from you. You can reach me at my email, connie [at] conniemilligan [dot] com