“Metaphors make the mind.”
By: Rena Basch
After having Rosh Hashana lunch at Zingerman’s Deli, the title of an article in the Zingerman’s newspaper caught my eye: “Replacing the Great Resignation with the Great Regeneration. New metaphors can change our minds and lives.”
The concept of “regeneration” is what got me to pick up the paper, as it feels like our congregation is in a period of regeneration. Upon reading the article, however, I was truly moved by founder/author Ari Weinzweig’s proposal: when you change the metaphor in your mind, you change the world or at least change the culture of your organization. He proposes to change the metaphor of an organization to an “ecosystem,” and he calls the metaphor of Zingerman’s a “poetic organizational ecosystem.”
When you change metaphors you literally change your mind and your ways of thinking. Research shows that metaphors you use shape how you think, creating the frames in which you see things. If you think of an organization as an ecosystem, it creates a holistic and generative mindset, more aligned with nature and natural processes.
With business, people inside and out of that world describe, think and speak about business organizations in metaphors of competition, sports, machines, and even war. These metaphors lead people to think primarily in terms of winners and losers, of efficiencies, of control, and creates a culture around these things. Even non-profits and congregations tend to use similar metaphors, thinking of the organization as a business, team or family. Even these metaphors of team or family still contain elements of control, competition and hierarchical thinking that influence culture and decision-making.
While it is true that both businesses and nonprofit organizations have to make some decisions based on the bank account or profit and loss statements, they could also consider other components and elements of the organization. What if factors that create and support the health of every aspect of the system could be equally weighted? What if organizations could make measures of “success” more than just the finances, and more like the overall holistic nurturing and growth of the whole poetic organizational ecosystem?
AARC is not producing Reubens or selling high quality foods, but we are growing people and cultivating community. We are growing the values of nurturing, support, care, spirituality, tikkun olam, kindness and love. Let’s try to embed the ecosystem model in our minds as we think about AARC, as we participate in AARC, as we make decisions about AARC. Looking forward to seeing everyone at the Annual Membership meeting on Sunday, December 4 at 10 am!
-Rena Basch, AARC Board Co-Chair