Canoeing the Mountains: Part 10

Let go. Learn as we go. Keep going.

Facing our sense of loss is the first step in being able to look to the future with clarity and hope. We must find a way to let go, learn as we go, and keep going…no matter what.

This ability is adaptive capacity. It is defined by Heifetz, Linsky, and Grashow as “the resilience of people and the capacity of systems to engage in problem-defining and problem-solving work in the midst of adaptive pressures and the resulting disequilibrium.”

Adaptive capacity is the crucial element for a navigating a changing world. Tod Bolsinger writes that it includes these skills:

  • calmly face the unknown
  • refuse quick fixes
  • engage others in the learning and transformation necessary to take on the challenge that is before them
  • seek new perspectives
  • ask questions that reveal competing values and gaps in values and actions
  • raise up the deeper issues at work in a community
  • explore and confront resistance and sabotage
  • learn and change without sacrificing personal or organizational fidelity
  • act politically and stay connected relationally
  • help one another make hard, often painful decisions to effectively fulfill the congregation’s mission in a changing context

These skills are the result of ongoing transformation in the life of the individual.

Transformation in the life of the individual often looks like new learning. If you are not learning anything new, you are not being transformed and you are not doing adaptive work.

What might it look like for us to be a learning community, a community of faith that is experiencing transformation through new learning?

Well, I imagine it starts with me and you. When each of us, as individuals, are experiencing transformation through new learning, we will enviably share it. That will allow us to grow together and to together, grow. When we, as a people, are experiencing transformation through new learning, our community will become a community of transformation.

This posture is essential in navigating the uncertainties and the unknowns of the future.

May we learn well.

Peace to you,



Canoeing the Mountains: Part 10