Language Is a Vehicle

We need to go somewhere. We are stuck in a system where the people who need help far outnumber those willing and able to do the work of helping. There is a workforce shortage that is affecting many industries. In the human services world, we need to discover new approaches and implement them so that we don’t leave any more people stranded.

What is getting in our way? I think we have three challenges: one is that the system is set up for business as usual, but obviously, that won’t work. Second, we have not decided on our destination — we are not likely to get somewhere if we haven’t decided where we are going. Lastly, we have little practice in creating new approaches, and we all know that without practice, we are not likely to move forward successfully or efficiently. Given those challenges, where do we start?

Let’s start with the destination. I think using language to describe the destination will help us understand what we want the systems to do. Having a clear vision creates space to be inspired and think creatively about how to get to our destination. But how can we describe the destination? When will we know that we have arrived?

It’s not like going to the shore with a tangible outcome. This destination is more like a set of feelings, activities, and personal satisfaction.

In past blogs, I have taken a shot at describing the destination, but without a shared vision of where we want to be, we can’t expect to reach it. The right language, which makes fuzzy things clear, will help us make choices.

This past week, I learned a new word that will be helpful: ikigai (pronounced like ee-kee-gahy), a word in the Japanese language. But there is no one-word translation for it in English. The word generally captures “your reason for being” and your WHY. If we explore our personal reason, we can understand the essence of education and human services and what we are called to create.

I am excited to start this series and expect to include some good stories from KenCrest staff and the people we serve.