Still Learning

Despite my advanced years and the length of time I have been part of the church lay leadership – I am still learning.   In fact, I sometimes realize that what I thought I had learned, was not quite right and, needed to refine my understanding.    Things would be so much easier if I already knew everything – but alas, this is not the case.

So it came to be that I signed up for a UUA Leadership webinar on April 10th to learn about “Life Inside the Golden Circle – Lessons from Simon Sinek” as presented by Mark Bernstein.   In my “bear of small brain” perspective, it boils down to: We don’t ask WHY enough! 

Sinek has a diagram with WHY in the center, the Golden Circle.  Around that is the HOW ring, and around that is the WHAT ring.  

·         Why is about beliefs: what motivates us to live our UUFRC Mission and follow our UU Principles?

·         How is about actions: what do we put energy into making manifest our beliefs? 

·         What is about results: when we look at the actions we have taken, how have they helped our community and the larger world to actually become more aligned with our beliefs? 

It has been observed that when we are asked about our religion, about UUFRC, we tend to focus on the How and the What, these are very concrete things and hence easier to talk about.  I will confess that this is my tendency, I like to DO things, and so this is how I talk about our church.   However, Sinek asserts that what is really important is the Why, and we should endeavor to reply from the center out, from Why, to How, to What.   OK, this makes sense to me, it will take some work, but I think I can get to that place – the Why just has to be short enough for me to remember and recite.

This leaves me with the problem of how to express the Why.  Typically, the Why is found in what are called “Cathedral Statements”, statements that then lead us to actions.  Mission Statements are intended to be Why statements, so for UUFRC we would have:

  • Seek spiritual meaning
  • Empower personal growth
  • Build connections with our neighbors
  • Act for justice, and inspire others to join us

I can see which actions we take at UUFRC lead directly from this and the impact that those actions have on the universe.  For example, working with the Yaseen Foundation to distribute food to 150 families touches on all of the elements of Why.  And I can see the results in the faces of the men, women, and children that pass through the line, gratefully accepting the gift of food and saying Thank You.

Blessed Be,

John M. Cooney
Member, Committee on Ministry