March 29 – April 1, 2018. Nestled in the lush and peaceful Kabak Valley, Turkey, perched over magnificent views of the Mediterranean Sea expand yourself with our Engaged Identity® workshops, yoga, meditation, yachting, massage, healthy eating, and incorporate wellness and well-being in the beautiful whole body/mind/spirit package that is YOU!
As we developed TheContactProject business model there was a risk I was simply not willing to take: accepting money from others in order to fund your work–whether a foundation, an individual, or a government–because when you take their money, you take on their agenda. At the end of the day, it’s my heart, and my hug, and my handshake on the ground, representing our work. And my agenda is the only one I can vouch for.
Because of the deeply interpersonal nature of this work, it can take time to seed and show impact. Some work has clear cause and effect. Some work lends itself to a straightforward monitoring and evaluation process. Some work comes with agendas that don’t serve people’s interests. Our work lives beyond that.
Our work is rooted in building trust internally and within relationships. Above all else, I need to be able to tell people: this is what we do, and this is why we do it. Anything less than seamless alignment between our word and our work would undermine our credibility, would undermine trust with our partners . . . and that’s just not something I’ll ever negotiate.
So I needed an organizational structure–a container–that would allow us to practice, as an organization, the same values-based approach we teach. And that’s why we became a social enterprise. We maintain our organization autonomy, and work with organizations around the world on a sliding scale: a portion of the profit from our consulting services funds our ongoing work with people in conflict zones and developing countries around the world.
Not only is this level of service and accessibility at the core of what we do, it enriches what we do. It inspires us reinforces our commitment to building relationships across sectors, and across the world–building human capacity for global change.
He was a high-level security professional in Northeastern Nigeria, and a recent participant in an Engaged Identity training at a peace institute we partner with. It was a 5-day intensive. Two months after the end of the course, we conducted follow-up interviews, and these were the first words he spoke to me.
I laughed. “That’s very kind of her. But she doesn’t have to do that,” I said.
“No, Jennifer,” he insisted. “She wants to meet you because she wants to thank you.”
I paused. He was earnest.
“She says I’m a better husband and a better father to our children after I took this course. She wants to thank you because it’s changed her life and our children’s lives.”
I listened as he went on to describe how his leadership style has changed, how his interactions with his subordinates had improved. He had embraced listening, patience, and respect–the cornerstones of the Engaged Identity Approach–and as a result, he was able to solve problems within his organization and had become a more capable and respected leader. Because of his position, he often led collaborations with security teams from other sectors–local government, military, and security–and as he was reaching out to his counterparts, he found he was able to build those relationships with more ease because of his training.
“I’m a better leader,” he said. “A better father, and a better husband.”
When people ask me why I do this work, I often think of him.
I also think of a young man in his mid-20s who had been assisting one of our partner organizations in the middlebelt region of Nigeria. After over a year, he was able to take the Engaged Identity training in full, as part of a course we did for a Master’s program there.
Unemployment in the area is among the highest in the world, ranging from 60-80%. There is precious little opportunity for people there, even those with an education.
After the course was over, this young man approached me. He confessed he’d been having a difficult time finding resilience and a sense of self worth in the face of the myriad challenges he faced. In particular, as a coming-of-age man unable to make any money.
This young man was also traumatized from the ongoing conflicts in the region, and the violence he’d been exposed to.
“My family has always looked down on me because my brothers were stronger, and I haven’t been able to bring money to my family,” he said. “I am the runt of the litter. I didn’t know what I could do to make a contribution to the world. After this training, I realize I have a contribution. It’s in me. It is me.”
“I realize it’s about being this way in the world, and through that, I’ll find my way.”
This young man had come to us without a shred of self esteem, because no one had supported him or made him feel he had any worth. This experience helped him realize his own untapped capacity. For the first time, he saw himself as a strong, able human being who could effect change–if for no other way than the way he was seeing himself.
“This training made me feel,” he said.
These men’s reflections, their experiences, their strength and their growth–are out of my hands. Their evolution is about them, and the ways they’ve embraced their work.
I founded The Contact Project a decade ago this year, in 2007. Since then, I’ve witnessed the way the Engaged Identity Trainings have transformed organizations . . . and the people within them. And it’s stories like these that have inspired me to incorporate Learning Journeys into our suite of offerings.
We believe the solutions to our most complex problems begin at the individual level. We are committed to enhancing human capacity for global change. These Learning Journeys will offer an immersive Engaged Identity experience to individuals, a holistic intensive that will offer participants the space and support to reflect, renew, and re-engage with the world.
To learn more about TheContactProject’s new Learning Journey offerings, click here.
I am so excited to share what has been happening at TheContactProject, and where we’re going next. Over the last nine months, TheContactProject team has been conducting a listening tour, receiving feedback from our partners, assessing our impact, and discovering where our work is creating the most meaningful change. This tour has inspired us to expand our suite of offerings by illuminating how we can offer our services in the way we work best . . . with you.
Today, TheContactProject team is thrilled to announce a brand new offering: our Learning Journey engagements. Inspired by resounding feedback from participants in our organizational trainings, these one-week immersion intensives will offer The Engaged Identity® approach directly to individuals, and enable participants to deepen their experience by incorporating a variety of supportive practices. Against the backdrop of a lush locale, individuals will enjoy holistic nutrition, yoga, surfing, hiking, and meditation in addition to our world class training. Our team is in the planning process of our inaugural Learning Journey, and we look forward to revealing the destination with you soon!
What I have discovered over ten years of developing, refining, and sharing the Engaged Identity® approach–the foundation of all our offerings–is the truly remarkable way it helps people not only engage difference, diversity, and conflict, but how instrumental it has been to enhancing quality of life, resilience, and human flourishing on the individual level. Time and again, participants in our workshops and trainings have reflected how this work has enhanced their relationships, expanded their sense of self, and amplified their personal and professional growth. The Engaged Identity® approach is changing lives.
At TheContactProject, we believe that the solutions to our complex challenges lie with the individuals capable of tackling them–and our Learning Journeys are a next step in our mission to equip individuals with the tools to thrive in our ever-changing world.
Of course, we will continue offering our Collaboration & Cultivation Stations for organizations and institutions, as well as our custom engagements to help you move people and processes forward. Check out our upcoming events for more information on what’s next!
We encourage you to stay tuned for more information and updates through our social media outlets–Facebook and Twitter–and by visiting our new website. Most of all, let us know what we can do to help you engage!
Hope to see you soon,
Jennifer K. Lynne, PhD
October 11-13, 2017. As an Alliance for Peacebuilding (AfP) member, we will be back in Washington, D.C. for our annual visit to the AfP conference. Our CEO serves on the steering committee for AfP’s Re-Wiring the Brain for Peace project and will be co-facilitating a panel on this work, as well as participating in the annual CEO Forum, and connecting with fellow peacebuilders from around the world. For ongoing updates, follow #PeaceCon2017.