Church Innovations’ Partners Post

October 8, 2009

What I Learned Being in a Different Play: Oomph and Dip

A few posts back I wrote that, when the seasons change, we often find ourselves surrounded by new scenery, new people, new activities – a new play. In summer in Minnesota, for example, we see our neighbors as we never do in the winter. Because we actually see them – they aren’t hidden under layers of jackets and boots. On a vacation, you might go to new places and buy groceries in a new store and get your coffee in a different Java Emporium.  


When you’re in a time of trying out new things, what do you learn?  In that previous blog entry, I said I’d tell you what I learned during a time of new experiences.  I learned that I still like traveling and finding my way in new places – I still find it an adventure. This love of adventure is not shared by everyone – I also learned that.


I learned that learning and navigating the new takes energy, and, although it’s energy I love to spend, afterward I’m tired.  I think perhaps it makes everyone over 55 tired and it makes people under 10 tired. Just look at who’s asleep on benches in big parks late in the afternoon – new and stimulating things, even when they’re positive, wear us out a bit.


What did I learn about others?  When people face the new, they are running on extra oomph. This extra oomph doesn’t just appear out of the blue. It’s either manufactured out of a lot of anticipation, or it comes from the adrenaline of the moment. It burns kind of hot, too, so when that extra oomph is used up and only regular energy remains, there is a dip in capacity.  We have to take that dip seriously – not feel bad about it – just take it seriously.


When high schoolers put on a play, they rehearse for several weeks, gear up, perform the play, and then dip. They work hard, develop anticipation, spend it in the performance, and then try to get right back into their regular routine. But their dip usually leads to quite a few colds and sometimes a couple of cases of mononucleosis.  


I for one am listening more to people’s energy level during periods of change, during periods of spending the extra oomph. I for one am trying to take care of myself and others, using the dip time for a little reflection period on what we’ve done and what we’re learning before we leap into more activity. If we are leading change, we’ve got to get out in front to watch for the oomph and the dip and provide direction for both.      Peace. Pat Taylor Ellison



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