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.
Robert Grabel is the President of Nonprofit Now! You can find his posts here and at www.robertgrabel.com
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