In the two examples from my life where I have been trying to make institutional change happen, this is what I have learned: changing things is like swimming up a waterfall made of molasses.
It's slow, sometimes uncomfortable, but you have to immerse yourself in it and keep going. If you let off for one moment, you fall back faster than it took you to swim there in the first place.
But even if you slip back, you are still farther than where you started.
It's not something that changes in a year, or 3 or 5. But can take decades. So you need to think in decades. You need to plan for decades.
You need new people to tell you that the way you were thinking a decade ago when you started is not the best way of thinking anymore.
You can celebrate triumphs but never be complacent that this is the way things will continue to be.
It's hard. It's harder when you've slipped down the waterfall, past those previous triumphs. It's harder when you thought you were going forward and found you were only paddling in place.
You'll get frustrated and angry and feel like giving in.
You will not look or feel the same from when you first started.
But that's when you have to start swimming again. Even though your arms are tired and gravity and inertia are fighting you all the way. Even if people are pushing rocks down at you from above.
We've slipped. Keep swimming. Protect those below from the rocks above.