In my post last week I mentioned that this summer has been about transition for us. From a professional perspective, I'm very excited about this next chapter and while it may not be worthy of all the suspense I'm attaching, I'm going to wait until all the pieces are in place to share details.
That being said, it's also been a summer of learning for me and as we come to the end of it - Labor Day BBQs around the corner and all that - thought I'd share a bit about some special experiences I had and some (hopefully) valuable takeaways in no particular order:
A-B-V: Always Be Volunteering: My hunch is that some of us that work in the charitable arena find our niche, do amazing things and leave it at that. I was guilty as charged. As vital as our full time work is, it's inspiring to learn about the mission of other organizations. The majority of my professional time is spent encouraging peer-to-peer fundraising in connection with endurance events - and I love it. However, this summer I also played the guitar as part of a volunteer trio that encouraged clients to learn and play music at a men's drop-in shelter. It was a great opportunity to learn about their programs while engaging individuals in something they found enjoyable and instructive. No doubt there are similar opportunities for you to try something a bit different.
To Thine Own Self Be True: Shakespeare clearly had something there...after having the opportunity to work with various nonprofits, this summer I did a good bit of soul searching and realized I love the experience of starting, evaluating and implementing new projects, sharing and educating, developing new business and being a catalyst for change and growth for charitable organizations. I'm fully embracing this reality and identifying ways to capitalize on it. If you've been doing whatever you've been doing for awhile now, take the time to identify your best contribution and see how you can do more of that. It may mean a job change, career transition or heart to heart with associates or management. But it's well worth the time and effort.
Since those first two were kind of serious, these next (last) two are on the lighter side of life....
Knowledge is Good - or Always Get A Second Opinion: Am I dating myself if I remind you of the quote featured on Emil Faber's statue in Animal House? If so, more knowledge - like a second opinion - is better! I'm still celebrating that after being told by one doc that I'll never run again, another got me doing the smart stuff and I'm back to a 16 mile long run on the way back to my 12th marathon for my 50th Birthday. My wife's convinced I'd probably just keep looking for doctors until I got the opinion I wanted - but fortunately it only took one. Never settle.
You're Never Too Old To Do Exactly What You Want: For those of you who have read some of my posts, you know I tend to use running metaphors. I love running because it's the only sport where I - being a runner that truly appreciates the scenery (a.k.a. I'm not fast) gets the same medal as the guy who finishes in the top 10. But one other dream I had was to play on a real hockey team - uniforms and everything. So, at 49 years old, I was the oldest guy out there but loved being part of an ultra beginners summer league. I may not have kept up with the 20 (and 30) year olds but at least I gave them some practice skating around me.
I hope these few thoughts have encouraged, inspired, or motivated you....or just given you a laugh. Back to the serious stuff next week - after Labor Day when we all get back to business.
I love writing about a variety of topics: business development, cold calling, my work in the nonprofit field and several other topics. For the most part, my posts are fueled by live experiences.
I wanted to continue this and of course, have something valuable to contribute. I was really struggling to come up with ideas. This is because over the past two weeks, I've been in a transition mode. I'm looking forward to sharing a lot more about this in the coming weeks.
It's been a true challenge to take a break and accept that several things about the transition were out of my hands. I am proud to say; however, that I've been doing a few things that have not only kept me sane but will put me in a good place once I'm back. So, here are three recommendations I hope you'll find helpful if you too are in a transition mode - or just need a break:
Find your groundwire: Remember the BIG REASON for why you do what you do. If you're in it for the long haul, a few days of change, inactivity or transition isn't going to change the trajactory of your mission.
Take the time to do some other stuff you enjoy: Let's face it, sometimes you're just going to have to be away from whatever your top passion is. But chances are if you're passionate one thing, there are a few others you enjoy too. Now is the perfect time to spend on a long(er) run, playing the guitar, seeing that silly movie (I admit it, I might go see the Expendables 3) or binge watching your favorite show (see: Hannibal, Rules of Engagement).
Do Some Planning and Dreaming: OK, so you can't make your calls, get out your proposals, and do those hardcore things you love to check off on the to-do list. But you can pull out your notebook - or hit up your Evernote notebook/folder that you use for Big Planning. Do some day dreaming, strategizing and come up with three ideas that you want to spend some time on once you're back to it.
At the end of the day, to use some "runner speak", if you're mission is a marathon, this moment is an important water break. So, instead of grabbing the water, swilling it down, tossing the cup and moving on, do the opposite (think: George Costanza!). Enjoy it. Thank those awesome volunteers (clients? friends?). And know that your breaks and rehydration are an equally important part of your run.
Robert is an Executive and Business Development Coach. You can read him here or on www.younonprofitnow.com