Labor Day Week: The Labor of Inner Work: Reflections stimulated by Labor Day in the USA by Nora F. Murphy Johnson

 Nora F. Murphy Johnson
Nora F. Murphy Johnson

My Name is Nora F. Murphy Johnson. I’m the CEO of Inspire to Change and I specialize in Creative Evaluation, or principles-focused, arts-infused, developmental evaluation for social justice. Inspire to Change and creative evaluation is a calling for me, and not labor in the traditional sense. And because it’s not labor in the traditional sense, some of the work of being a creative evaluator is non-traditional–the work of inner development.  

A few years ago, some colleagues and I conducted a three-year study of changemakers enrolled in The Wellbeing Project’s Inner Development Program. Our report, published earlier this year, describes five aspects of work that link inner development to outer change for people who work for social and environmental good. I use the aspects to frame the way I think about the labor of inner work in evaluation–the process, the purpose, and the potential outcomes.

Saying yes and returning to yes. First, we have to say “yes, I matter and am deserving of self-reflection and care.” Reflecting on and changing my own harmful preconceptions, biases, and patterns are an integral part of my work. And we have to keep returning to this “yes” even when the pace is unrelenting and our schedules are so tight and to make it hard to breathe.  

Experiencing and opening to new relational possibilities. As we make inner shifts, we will experience new possibilities in our relationships with ourselves and with others, creating new possibilities in our daily work.

Discovering and accepting the whole self. Saying yes to healthier patterns and more supportive possibilities by focusing more attention on awareness and presence, and less on self-judgement.

Moving towards greater inner wholeness. As we integrate fragmented parts of ourselves, we find relief and healing from burdens, and create the space to grow more fully and deeply to into our whole selfhood. 

Aligning inner wellbeing and outer action. Bringing our whole healed selves to our work fosters curiosity and openness, vulnerability, and a stronger sense of purpose while allowing more time to practice active empathy, celebrate, laugh, and relax. 

Hot Tip: By centering inner work in the labor of creative evaluation, we open ourselves to new relationships and possibilities. We can create and strengthen a trans-global web of justice-oriented creative evaluators and changemakers and work collectively to address systemic inequities while staying in alignment with our true selves, our values, and fostering wellbeing.

Rad Resources:

The American Evaluation Association is celebrating Labor Day Week in Evaluation. The contributions this week explore the concept of labor from different perspective and in relation to evaluation. Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an aea365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to aea365@eval.org . aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.

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