October 31, 2012
Last week I was just about to dive into the next round of stories for our diocesan newspaper when all of a sudden, wham! A curve ball came my way.
A pastoral letter written by our apostolic administrator intended for parishioners to hear over the weekend made a premature flight into the world. Next thing we know, its contents are spilling out all over local radio waves out of context. By day's end, The Huffington Post even had picked up on a piece of it.
As communications director, I had to pull my attention away from the softer features I was writing to spring into action. There's no better way to learn than to be thrown into a situation in which your attention is urgently needed. I had to listen carefully, communicate wisely, and learn as I went.
Though the situation caused a disruption in the normal order of things, I didn't feel put out so much as purpose-filled as I was called upon to help respond appropriately. I enjoyed offering my wisdom and talents, even if imperfectly in moments. That's how it works flying by the seat of one's pants.
By far, the brightest spot in this curve ball was getting to know people in a new way, or for the first time.
In particular, I was in close contact with my counterpart in Bismarck. Together, we waded through the details, sought advice and used our best judgment to help settle the pieces flying our way.
As things began to die down, I think we both felt a mutual sense of glad collaboration and accomplishment.
I also talked to some of the priests of our diocese for the first time; got to know a few of the personalities I might not have otherwise. I appreciate their willingness to become more real to me, to express their opinions, and often, their appreciation.
And watching the media work from the other side of things was fascinating and insightful.
In some ways I wish I could share more of the details, but I don't think it would be prudent. The work of a communications director brings out the nurturing part of me. When my children are dealing with something sensitive, my first inclination is not to run and tell everyone I know. Boundaries come into play.
But I can share this much. What began as unsolicited surprise turned into a wonderful opportunity to share another dimension of our faith with others. In offering a response, clarification happened that, I hope, will arm some with information they didn't have before.
The wind-down included a live radio interview Tuesday morning with our bishop. I was happy to help introduce him to our community and get to know him a little more as well.
Taking a positive approach made all the difference. Knowing that what we have to share is good stuff didn't hurt, either.
If I've learned nothing else, it's that curve balls don't have to whack you in the face. They can provide a new opportunity for joining forces with the people on your team and working through an issue together.
View the excellent wrap-up of our week by my Bismarck cohort here. (The phone conversation used as the base for the video shows Bishop Kagan of Bismarck during my phone interview with him for Catholic radio on Tuesday morning.)
Q4U: When did you last catch a curve ball?