My Love Letter to Miles River

Dear Team,

The Wye River meeting was superb. It was a 9/10 without question — a remarkable score especially given the circumstances. It speaks to the muscles we’ve built as a team and to all of the hard work and passion and dedication over the last two and a half years. Everybody’s contributions rang loud and clear, including those who couldn’t be there with us, including those who came before us.

For the past two and a half years, Miles River has been scurrying ahead of Wye River, pausing to validate that we’re moving in the right direction, then scurrying ahead again. We’ve taken big risks, STP has made a huge investment in us, and we’ve made a huge investment in ourselves, preparing and hopeful for that moment when Wye and Miles would converge.

From the beginning, we talked about how the leaders would need to invest more time if they wanted to succeed, how an ED-only group didn’t make strategic sense, how the group needed to be more open and porous, and how enrollment is always a tremendous challenge, especially given the very real constraints that our leaders face. We talked about how Miles River needed to be a model, and we invested a considerable amount of time in our own container and practice.

We saw and spoke our truths, then we modeled and prepared. We put some stakes in the ground and created a space, and we invited the leaders to come in, to be their best selves, and to make the space their own. Every time we engaged with the leaders, they took what resonated and brought their own considerable wisdom and experience and muscles and hope and joy into the space. And now here we are. Wye and Miles River have converged. It’s truly all of our space now.

The “easy” part of our work is officially over, and the hard work has officially started. As you all saw these last few days, building shared understanding is enormously challenging work, and as the leaders said, we’ve just barely dug our tendrils below the surface. Now we’re moving into experiments, which is ultimately a culture shift strategy. Culture shift is freaking hard. We have committed to designing and facilitating a conversation that is ultimately about equity, power, taking a hard look at ourselves, and challenging each other compassionately. Freaking hard. On top of all of that, we’re trying to grow. We’ve done all of this hard and time-consuming work together over the past few years. What is it going to look like to bring in new people? How do we continue to deepen and grow (the theme of many of our leaders’ framing questions)? What will be the impact of our porosity and tender transparency?

Are you excited yet?!

If we’ve learned anything over the past two and half years, I hope it is this — all of this is hard, but it’s surmountable. It just takes intentionality and commitment and accountability and lots and lots of practice.

Did you all see Mirai Nagasu’s triple axel? Have you read her story? She’s from my hometown — go Arcadia! She’s 24 — a senior citizen in figure skating years. She missed the cut at the last Olympics, which is when she decided to start exploring the jump. She practiced that same jump 30 times a day, and it took her two years to master. 30 times a day, every day, for two years. All for one, split-second moment.

We didn’t get to this point by accident. We saw what needed to happen, and we worked at it. Now we see what we need to do next. Roll up our sleeves, get to work. We’re going to stumble _a lot_ along the way, but if we keep getting up, we’re going to make it. All of the things the leaders want to do are no harder than a triple axel, but they will have a much, much greater impact on the world. Imagine how it will feel to bust out that triple axel.

I feel so humbled to be part of this team and this journey with all of you. Thank you for everything you’ve all done. Looking forward to Chapter 2.

#design