Our Work


Gratitude... 'Tis the Season

By Stephanie Villinski on November 17, 2015

Dear Reader,

I am posing a gratitude challenge to you this week. The late, Wayne Dyer wisely wrote, “Give yourself the gift of five minutes in awe of everything you see around you. Go outside and turn your attention to the many miracles around you. This five-minute-a-day regimen of appreciation and gratitude will help you focus your life in awe.”

Come on, now, dear Reader. Don’t tell me you can’t spare 5 minutes, in the week before Thanksgiving, to meet this challenge!

In solidarity, I will participate in the gratitude challenge with you. I want to share five things about the Illinois Legal Aid Online (ILAO) Website Rebuild for which I am grateful. Here goes:

1.It’s Ok to Disagree: It may not always be easy or comfortable, but it is ok to disagree. I am thankful for the ILAO development team for teaching/reminding me of this lesson. There have been some recent moments where my opinion was the exact opposite of the team's and my supervisor's. Heated discussions ensued. Yet, the beauty of this is we are still talking to each other. (Well, at least, I am talking with them.) All jokes aside, I am grateful to work in a culture where disagreements can happen and because people work to not make them personal, at the end of the day, the work is better because of our differing views. I always come back to the fact that everyone is working toward the same mission…the best website possible for people in Illinois.

2.It’s Ok to Be Wrong: I am grateful for the Scrum process as it has taught me that being wrong is part of the process. Scrum gives me the confidence to make a decision, try it out, and revise. In some ways, Scrum has taught me that it is not about being “wrong.” It really is about reflecting on the experience, learning and adjusting in order to move forward.

3.It’s about More Than Content: As the Content Director, content is my main focus. That said, I am grateful for the ILAO staff and development team who constantly remind me to not have tunnel vision. Without collaboration and feedback from my colleagues, you all would be reading paragraphs and paragraphs of content. Think law school text book! Thank goodness for tech, design, and usability. Your brain should actually write them a thank you note.

4.It’s Important to Take Care of Yourself: Transforming four websites into one is no joke! There is so much to do. It is easy to take on too much and be overwhelmed. The long-term impact of this is a lack of energy in future. I am grateful for the Kanban board process that he team uses. The Kanban process reminds me that there are only so many hours in a week and helps me prioritize and be more realistic about what I can and cannot do.

5.It’s about Getting Some Help from Your Friends: Cue the Joe Cocker lyrics. I am not going to lie; there are days where I don’t know if this website is going to launch. As opposed to #2 above, I am not grateful for the Scrum process and all its “process.” However, on days like this, I am grateful for the encouragement and support of team ILAO and my family and friends. A favorite quote of mine and one that is fitting here is, “A friend is someone who knows the song to your heart and can sing it back to you when you have forgotten the words."

Happy Thanksgiving! Of course, I could not forget you, dear Reader, ILAO and I are so grateful for you and your support of ILAO. Now, don’t forget, take five minutes and do your gratitude practice.

Thank you,