Last week, the Plenty team gathered for our one-year meeting. During our three days together, we celebrated and reflected on the past year, had discussions to ensure that we’re all operating from the same page, and looked ahead to set the goals and priorities for the upcoming year. A few lessons surfaced as a result of these discussions: there is plenty for everyone, mission statements should be one sentence long, it’s ok to ask for help, communication plans should be year-round and finally – it is essential to keep in touch with yourself.
The past year has been indescribable, both rewarding and challenging in ways I never could have imagined. At one point during our meeting, we took some time to chart out our personal hits and misses from the last twelve months, each on its own post-it note. While a series of post-it notes can’t adequately sum up the most powerful moments from a year, as I viewed the experiences together, it became clear to me that my hits came when I was in touch with the things that matter most to me. My misses came during the moments when I’d lost touch with myself.
We all experience success and failures, and both have the potential to impact our personal growth. In an attempt to draw some lessons from the past year, below are three things to keep in mind as you focus on staying in touch with yourself and what matters most:
1. Stay connected to what inspires you. For many of us, particularly those of us with jobs in social impact, fundraising, and the nonprofit space, our work is a large part of the inspiration mix. The mission-driven focus and the passionate people we work alongside can be fuel for months. When the days get a little too long, and the realization of your mission seems a bit far off, what helps you power through? When you’re at a particularly low point, set aside some quiet time to have a deep and honest conversation with yourself about why you do what you do. Once you have that answer, go one level deeper and make sure you know what gets you fired up, outside of work.
From there, make deliberate plans to stay closely engaged with the people, places, actions, moments, thoughts, and things that inspire you. Plant reminders of those things in both conspicuous places that you’ll see regularly and hidden places that you’ll stumble over accidentally when you need them most. Remember that you do this work for at least one important reason - to create positive change in the world - so keep that at the top of your heart and mind.
2. Trust your instinct. Each of my “misses” came during moments of self-doubt. I didn’t know what to do next, I wasn’t sure what the path forward looked like, I wasn’t sure how things would turn out, I couldn’t figure out what I wanted to do or say - or worse yet, I knew what I wanted to do or say and I didn’t. On the flip side, my greatest hits came when I had a Diet Coke, gave myself a quick pep talk, and got to it. I got out of my own head, I stripped seemingly complicated things down to the simple basics, I took decisive action, and I spoke my mind.
Changing the world is a tall order and there’s no time-tested map for protecting liberty, curing ALS, ending poverty, or ensuring access to education. No one has ever done exactly what we’re doing right now. The uncharted, open territory can be daunting. Stop and think for a moment about how amazing it is that we get to approach this open space together -- that we can start to fill it in with our smarts, creativity, best ideas, and most passionate convictions. We’re going somewhere really special and we need you. We need you to trust your gut, trust your skills, trust your judgment, speak up, and take action. I will too.
3. Remember that you are capable of mad-crazy-amazing things. Knowing a bit about the readers of the Plenty blog, I’m going to go ahead and say it again: you are capable of mad-crazy-amazing things. I’ll take it one step further and venture to say that you’re capable of things you may not have even day-dreamed of yet. One look at the headlines offers evidence that the world needs smart, excellent, passionate people now more than ever. I hope you recognize that I’m talking to you, and I hope you’ll raise your hand to be counted.
I have no doubt that in a year when we reflect back on 2015 we will see that the year will have brought even more hits than 2014 and probably some misses too - and that's ok. Every pitch can't be a home run, but as President Roosevelt said, “Far better is it to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much, because they live in a gray twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat.”
I’m all in and I’m going for it. Are you with me?