President’s Message: On Doing and Being

Randi Gottlieb
President, LA-CAMFT

Greetings Friends and Colleagues,

How can it possibly be June already? Where has the time gone? What have I accomplished and why haven’t I gotten more done so far this year? Sound familiar? I imagine so, given that our dominant cultural narrative places such a high value on achievement, when each day is consumed with pressure to get it done…whatever “it” is, when no matter how many hours we devote, we know we will never be able to check off all the items on the “to do” list!

I remind myself that there is always time to get done what needs to get done, that the true priorities will find their way to the top of the list in time; sometimes cutting in front of less important or less urgent items that got stacked on top; sometimes having to disrupt my sleep to get my attention; at other times needing that extra surge of adrenaline that kicks in when, either out of overload or (dare I admit?) procrastination, I have put off an important priority and am now up against the clock, back against the wall, and the pressure is really on! Such is the situation today as I sit down to write my President’s Message, four days past the due date for getting it in to our newsletter editor.

A close friend and I were talking while cooking the other night, wondering what the conversation would be like if we asked a different question of ourselves and the others at our small dinner gathering; wondering if we could shift the conversation away from sharing what we’ve been doing, are planning to do, or wanting to do sometime in the future and focus instead, on an inquiry about how we want to live, what kind of people we want to be, what qualities of life we want to embody, how we want to relate to and with each other?

To do and to be. Though the former does not obviate the latter, our focus on doing often overshadows our ontological nature, our “being-ness”. I hold in one hand a task I need to get done, such as that of writing my President’s Message, and I hold in the other hand my thoughts and feelings about how I want to be with you, the kind of relationship I want to have with you, and the effect I hope my words will evoke in you.

It is my goal to write this message balancing both.

Today I am writing to you about leadership; more specifically, about the leadership of our chapter. (Ha! Isn’t this always the theme of my messages?) Currently, our chapter committee chairs are in need of co-chairs, we have several vacancies on the board, we have a paid job opportunity for someone to take notes at our board meetings because our delightful note taker, Becky White, just gave notice she must focus on studying for her MFT licensing tests. (Becky, we will miss you!) It is now June, the 6th month of my second year of a two-year term as president and I have yet to find a President Elect to take my place at the end of the year. So you see, I am passionate about connecting with you, inviting you to the table, drawing you into the circle, engaging you in the work and play that is the heart of LA-CAMFT. Doing so is critical to our chapter’s sustainability and success.

To this end, the board and I have spent considerable time thinking about what draws people to step up and how we can engage more people to do so. In January, Darlene Basch hosted our first annual Involvement and Leadership Gathering in her beautiful home. In April, Steven Unruh and I co-facilitated the first of our (free to members) Leadership Development Workshop series titled Defining Leadership: Finding the Leader in You. And on June 18th, Jonathan Flier and Darlene Basch will be co-leading the second workshop in the series on Vision, Mission, Objectives and Outcomes, teaching how to take an idea and move it forward to implementation.

Something we’ve talked about but haven’t yet implemented is to develop a user friendly on-line system for posting the positions we need to fill with descriptions of the specific tasks and time frames for each. (Anyone interested in helping with this task, you know where to find me!)

Without minimizing the need for this kind of detailed job description outlining the responsibilities and tasks of our board and committee positions, I propose that what matters most is for people to see themselves as a vital piece of the whole, that they consider service and contribution as an integral part of how to do life, understand that for our therapy community to thrive it takes all of us to chip in, hence one simply has to make the decision to show up. Really, that is the hardest part. Once you have decided to be part of the leadership team, everything you need to know about what to do once you are there is the easy part!