I realize that I have been absolutely blessed to have so many wonderful mentors in my professional life — various people who were slightly wiser and more experienced (and sometimes VERY much wiser and more experienced), not always older than me in years but certainly older than me in knowledge and skill. In every field I’ve worked — hospitality, academia, and non-profits — I was lucky to find great teachers in my friends, and great friends in my teachers. These relationships happened naturally. Effortlessly. Wondrously.
“Godfather. Will you look at my LinkedIn page for me?”
So it is interesting that I find myself in the fourth month of this new career journey and I am still relatively mentor-free. My boss is a wonderful teacher and I would never trade him for the world, but it seems I would have networked the heck out of this new field by now and found other additional great coaches. To actively and consciously seek out a new mentor or two … where do I even start?
We must be willing to let go of the life we planned so as to have the life that is waiting for us. ― Joseph Campbell
I’m not one to make resolutions. I learned as a teenager that the new year resolution tradition is a trap. However, I was struck by this quote the other day and will be adopting it as my “New Year Mantra.” I can look back on 2012 and state unequivocally that it was a terrible year. Using a limited self-serving frame of reference to assess it, one could easily just give the year of 12 a resounding thumbs-down. However, I am instead seeing it for what it really was: a terrible year of lessons and change.
The word terrible means more than just “really bad.” Terrible also means serious, extreme, or awe-inspiring. The original Latin word terrere really means to fill with fear or cause to tremble. Yep, that pretty much sums up 2012 — a year of serious, extreme, and awe-inspiring learning.
I am hoping that 2013 is also a year of terrible. I will be looking for those extreme and awe-inspiring moments this year when maybe, perhaps, I will be able to let go of the life I had planned and be able to recognize the life is that is waiting for me — professionally while I grow and learn, and personally while I figure out how to redefine myself.
What about you? What are your plans for 2013? Have a wonderful new year!
P.S. I know he is controversial in the lit-crit crowd, but I actually really loved Campbell and found some of his theories helpful for my students when we studied Arthurian romance cycles. It made me just a tiny bit happier to find this quote from him the other day. Thank you, Professor Campbell, for the little bits of wisdom you have randomly injected into my life over the years. Are we living out a monomyth cycle? A continuous journey that brings us through birth, death, and rebirth?
My friend Tim at Hiring Karma finds the best articles to help others think about their non-profit job search at a higher, slightly more philosophical level. I’m highlighting this particular article because it applies to workplace culture in general… and it is so important to consider. Thanks, Tim! Culture eats strategy for breakfast, or lunch.
Happy Labor Day weekend!
I will be honest: I’m normally so busy (aren’t we all) that I tend to not take the time to stop, watch, listen, think, reflect. We all know that stress is bad for us — mentally and physiologically. I know it. Yet, I still need to be better about carving out a few moments to alleviate stress. Even when I’m at the gym, I have a hard time letting go (I hate my current swim goggles… it’s always something, right?). Grad school with a toddler alone probably shaved years off my life…
For the first time in a very long time, I actually took an afternoon late last week to visit SAM. Normally when I visit, it’s with a purpose or an agenda, usually a specific show (Picasso! Gauguin!) or some other motivator. Not this time. This time, to help get my mind off some recent stress, I walked in with absolutely no agenda except to turn off my phone and wander the galleries.
It was nice to be able to sit with some of my favorite “old friends” at SAM and know that I could spend as much time as I wanted (or at least until my parking expired). One of my favorite works is Bierstadt’s Puget Sound on the Pacific Coast (1870).
I had the great pleasure of having coffee/lunch with a friend today, someone who I have not seen since last fall when the campaign we worked on together came to a triumphant close. Since that was my first major campaign (a very intense 10-month $1.25m with no pre-existing donor base to speak of), I considered B one of my teachers/mentors. It was wonderful catching up with her, hearing about her professional experiences in the last 12 months, sharing my incredible experiences in the last 12 months, discussing the latest trends in our field, and who has moved to where and when (you know, the usual stuff development people talk about when they get together).
We also talked about the importance of networks, mentoring relationships, and community. It dawned on me that I’ve written quite a bit about the importance of building and maintaining relationships between organizations and constituents, but I haven’t written much about the importance of building and maintaining relationships within the professional community.
I must admit that I’ve been feeling down in the dumps lately… but spending the afternoon with the wonderful community of Companis workers cured me quickly!
You haven’t heard of Companis in Seattle? You need to!
Companis is an organization that matches professionals in the Puget Sound community with struggling nonprofits who need social workers, accountants, program managers, directors, development professionals… but cannot afford the staffing costs. Companis workers commit to year-long terms of service to their matched organizations. Yes, a year. Think of it as the Peace Corps for Seattle. And Companis doesn’t just make the volunteer match and move on. Workers gather together every few weeks for support and workshops, have annual retreats, and other community building opportunities. This model means that the experience is as enriching and transformative for the workers as it is for the organizations with which they volunteer.
I feel so lucky — blessed, really — to have learned of Companis last summer. Even though I myself have not had the opportunity to become a year-long Companis worker (hopefully in the future when the circumstances are right), I realized today at the Companis picnic how important and inspiring this organization has been to me — personally and professionally.