I have taken lots of twists and turns in my career journey but always with an end game in mind. And here I am.
A year ago, I made the decision that I could actually launch a business that would serve the social sector in a much bigger way than leading one agency at a time. My passion is igniting people and organizations and I’ve always dreamed of building a business that could impact nonprofits in a BIG way. With passion, industry knowledge and lots of experience in the trenches, I was off and running….
Almost immediately upon making the decision to start Think Good Leadership, my plans were diverted. I agreed to take on a three-month intern Executive Director role for a local nonprofit going through a merger. Three months turned into a year and I am finally seeing this fascinating experience coming to an end. I hoped to test my knowledge about change management and I did just that.
In the meantime, I have been the “little red hen.” Working on my business, Think Good Leadership, every day and night while working 20 hours a week in the interim role.
Ironically, as this interim experience comes to an end, I am in San Diego for an Entrepreneurial Leadership Conference. The timing couldn’t be better. I really feel that this fall, I will be taking my vision for this work to the next level.
I thought I would share a couple of things that I have learned this past year in the journey of being accountable to myself and my dream…and to a nonprofit and its mission.
1: I still love change.
I am one of those people unafraid of change. I guess that goes without saying if you know even a little bit about me. I change my pocketbooks. I’ve gotten out of unhealthy relationships. And I’ve taken on career challenges that may not have made sense to people that love me.
Some of us are just wired to be on a “journey” and to continue to make choices that lead us to ultimate fulfillment. I don’t think much about my age. But I do remember leaving my job at Habitat and one of my millennial staff members saying that it was inspiring to see someone my age still pursuing her dreams. I’ve now entered the wild, wild, west of entrepreneurship in a digital world and I am finding a whole new tribe of people ready to be “later in life” explorers.
2. Learning really is a continuous process.
I wouldn’t have launched Think Good Leadership if I didn’t think I had something to offer to other leaders. My experiences are unique and there aren’t a lot of nonprofit consultants out there who have actually led nonprofit organizations. But there is so much to learn! My clients teach me something new every day about their passions and challenges.
And of course, there is all the technical challenge that changes by the second. Whether I am learning about a new trend in the social sector or a new app to propel my business to the next level, I am reading and listening and writing in hyper speed. I’ve lost track of the number of journals I’ve gone through this year.
3: There is a difference between wisdom and expertise.
This has been one of the most interesting “aha’s”that I’ve had this year. I think I have always associated wisdom with an elderly person with gray hair speaking down to others. I didn’t value the role that experience has in the evolution toward wisdom. I thought that being an expert is what mattered in building a business but, after listening to my clients, I am learning that it is my wisdom and passion for my work that engages them in the learning process.
Yes, I write about trends and techniques, but ultimately, what I am learning is that people want to know what has worked for me. And almost more importantly, they want to know what hasn’t worked and how I navigated through challenging situations. This is a big mindset shift for me. Hopefully, you will get a sense of that shift in my blogs and videos to come.
4. Work hard at asking for feedback and be open to doing things that you never imagined you would do!
When I launched Think Good Leadership, I had a very clear idea of what I wanted to do and more importantly how I would do it. But thanks to my colleague, Patrick Jinks, I was careful not to box myself into one strategy or one way to deliver my services.
I am learning to ask better questions about what people need from me and to listen more to people’s answers. I never thought I would do work virtually but I have launched a virtual coaching program! Facebook Live…well, it is scary. Very scary. And as I look to the fall, you will see some of the other new tools I will be trying to make my work more accessible to more people.
Moving forward, I will be focusing on three core strategic themes in my work. And I will continue to ask: Is what I am doing helping to EDUCATE, ENGAGE AND TRANSFORM my audience? I would love to hear what you would like me to share, and write about, to assist you in your educational journey. How can I engage you differently with Think Good Leadership and other leaders? How can I design programs that fully support you with you regardless of where you are in your leadership journey?
As I look ahead to regaining 20 (or more) hours a week, I’m literally jumping for joy about the possibilities. I am owning my #fiftiesandfearless” hashtag. I hope that you will continue to enjoy the ride with me and that together, we can ignite potential in compassionate people and organizations.