My frustration resists containment. At peak intensity, it wants to free range, often alienating others. That said, navigating the often deep chasm between what is, and doesn’t want to change, and what could be, requires the sustained, dynamic energy of discontent. Being able to effectively channel a tsunami of intent is what distinguishes the effective change makers from the complainers. I aspire to be more of that former than latter, a pursuit that has yet to fully reach its goal.
Insights, inspiration and opportunities to create a more vibrant and resilient future.
Filtering by Category: Insight
Hello, Old Friend
Little had gone according to plan. My morning has been a series of detours as I try to execute a departure out of town. In addition to evolving logistics, I’m having to navigate my impatience: hello frustration, my old friend! I’ve gotten better at acknowledging and accepting, however begrudgingly, what is and isn’t within my influence to change.
I Had No Idea
Hutson sleeps, except when he plays. Our 5-month old Boston Terrier is capable of waking and rambling at just about any hour of the day or night. I envy his spontaneity and ability to languidly snooze at a moment's notice. He bit me the other day, his small sharp puppy teeth puncturing the skin in two small places on either side of my finger. It was my fault. He’s recently learned to fetch, but not let go of the object upon its return. I had snatched it away from him. Understandably, he leapt at my hand in play, and caught my finger before I could pull it away. It hurt, but I didn’t blame him.
Success isn’t assured. Innovation carries risk, particularly when it’s focused on issues that are difficult to shift. Inherently curious, I find the process of discovery deeply satisfying. Rarely is the challenge Foresight is charged with addressing, whether by a client or ourselves, the one that fundamentally requires addressing. Our real conundrums are buried.
Considering Human Capital
People are essential. The statement sounds painfully obvious. Yet I’m continually amazed at how often the pivotal role people play in various sustainability-related initiatives is overlooked, particularly in the nonprofit realm. Rarely during an interview for a new undertaking or grant have my colleagues and I been earnestly questioned about our qualifications or perspectives. Generating the idea is often equated with the capability to execute it.
I should be working. Instead, I’m looking out the airplane window as we ascend from the runway, capturing a glimpse of the surrounding land, water and mountains before entering a thick bank of view-obscuring clouds. Last year had several notable experiences, including a few profound and unexpected losses. On the verge of this new year, the aircraft rising just above the top of cloud ceiling, I wonder at my relative equilibrium.
The Art of Obedience
The project has become unruly. Working on complex projects focused on topics like energy, water and agriculture, rarely goes as planned. Remaining focused yet nimble is essential. Developing a powerful idea is just the beginning, not the end of most projects. You still have to sell it. Meanwhile, Hutson, the Foresight-Wonder-Pup, has started training classes, an effort to refine his youthful instincts. His challenge is two-fold: keeping him focused, and practicing whatever skill the trainer has assigned.
Your Philanthropy: Part II
Giving often comes from the heart. There’s nothing wrong with that. Building on last week’s post, however, here are some additional suggestions for interjecting some intellect into the act. I’ve found that by balancing heart and head, I’m more likely to maximize the impact of the dollars I contribute.
From Akron to Duluth
The food isn’t the reason. I search the internet for “family restaurants” during my travels and see what comes up. There isn't a hard definition, but the 8-10 I’ve recently patronized had common traits: “vintage" decor; decent, but not stellar food; a local, generally older clientele; reasonable prices; and a cashier near the door. Contentedly ensconced in a booth, I try to temper my innate urban elitism.
Starbucks at Starbucks
Time is of the essence. I'm writing this on my phone while riding a bus. Time is always of the essence. Juggling multiple deadlines and evolving project demands this week has stressed my capacity for nimbleness. Sometimes we are more aware of the essence of time than others.
We hope. During occasional moments in my 10+ year yoga practice, I’ve contemplated quitting. The physical machinations don't seem worth the delayed, amorphous results. A client recently commented “I was hoping that the document you sent would have that one big, game changing idea. It didn’t.” The nature of innovation is misunderstood. I’m eager for substantial, meaningful breakthroughs, yet have learned how much hard, slogging work is required to create the conditions for them to occur.
Colleagues matter. At its best, Foresight is a not a collection of staff members working together, but an ensemble of individuals each contributing their perspective and talents to a greater whole. As any chamber musician knows, playing together is relatively simple, but performing as a dynamic and vibrant unit is incredibly difficult. Trust is required; individuals must be fundamentally invested in one another’s growth and well being. Sometimes roles need to evolve, including beyond the team.