Growing up, I was a science and math kid. I liked the facts, the memorization, even the tests. I liked the clear cut, yes or no, A + B = C answers. This seemed to bring me two things: decent grades, and the ability to check out of any creative thinking. In college, a slow shift started without me knowing. My favorite class was my anatomy class, where one thing connects to another thing. Sounds cut and dry (no pun intended… maybe), but all of a sudden I found myself looking at the big picture of how and why the pieces fit together. I was thinking about connectivity, relationships, pathways, and purpose. I was design thinking. Fast forward a few years, and to my surprise I’m spending time outside of my day job designing websites for bloggers, churches, small business, and nonprofits.Read more
We have been looking for our “passion” since high school. Our counselors said things like, “follow your heart,” “what do you think will make you happy,” or the ever favorite “where do you see yourself in 10 years?” If you were like me, you changed your major three times, ended up majoring in history, and learned more about what your passion was by the leadership positions you took, clubs you joined, and the people you met along the way.Read more
For a long time, when I cried in front of someone, the first words of out of my mouth were, “I’m sorry.” I guess I was sorry for what I assumed made them uncomfortable.
About a year ago, my mom and I took a trip to pack up my grandfather’s house. It had been a hard spring – in addition to his death, I had spent hundreds of hours and a healthy chunk of change to apply to grad school, only to be turned down. I was about to move to another state, and I had no idea what direction my life would take.
On a break from packing boxes, my mom asked how I was feeling. I started crying. “I’m sorry, Mom,” I began.
“Why are you sorry?” she asked, “Your tears are telling you something. Honor your tears.”Read more
For most of my life I’ve considered the act of learning something that happens in a classroom: there is a teacher who has expertise and knowledge, and there are students who do not yet have that knowledge. Students sit quietly, take notes, study, and eventually learn new information and skills.Read more
Imagine, you’re at the office early, morning beverage in hand and you settle in for a productive morning. That’s when Tony (who has been driving you nuts for months) comes over asking the same questions about the same project in the same way since he started. Your pulse rises and you can feel the knots forming in your shoulders and neck. You consider your options: fleeing at lunch and working remotely the rest of the day or shaking Tony by the shoulders until he understands the answers you’ve given to him a thousand times in a thousand ways.Read more
We’re approaching the third month of the year, about the time when most New Year’s resolutions start to look a lot less shiny and promising. We’ve all been there, where we set these amazing, lofty goals to accomplish in the next year.
Starting in the early 2000s, I started setting my number of goals or resolutions based off the year. For example, I would set 14 goals for 2014. But last year, I stopped using this method, because it simply wasn’t working. I would set these lofty goals without any true ways of measuring progress.Read more
When I arrived at Yale Divinity School to pursue a Master of Arts in Religion, I was excited, eager to start classes, and ready to meet some fellow classmates. I also secretly felt like a fraud.
Somewhere inside, I felt like I slipped past the admissions committee, or they made a mistake, or the recommendations from my professors carried me in without real merit. I was scared that I wasn’t up to the caliber of my fellow students, especially since my classmates at YDS are some of the most amazing people I’ve ever met and do important work. Even as I excelled in my coursework, I had a small nagging fear that my professors were going to wise up and show me the door. I felt like this after being hired in my current position; what do I know about fundraising and why would anyone give me money? I was half-convinced the first five donations I brought in were a fluke. Rationally, I know I earned my place in grad school and I’m a competent fundraiser, but that didn’t completely quiet the small voice in the back of my head.Read more
Sometimes when you go through a process it gets muddy before it gets clear.
As a consultant for nonprofits with Aurora Consulting, when we do a strategic planning retreat with clients we often warn them things will get “muddy” for a time but we won’t stay in the mud. I’ve come to see it’s not about needing a new process that keeps things clear and organized. It’s about allowing everyone to dive into the mud, get messy, stir around, and see what comes out the other side.
I can also see how this is true in life. In small ways, such as organizing a closet, to big ways like finding the right path in your life or career.Read more
I was in 8th grade when I walked downstairs late one evening and saw a red rose at the foot of my parents’ bed. When I looked closer I noticed my father's wedding ring had been slid down a stem, resting upon a thorn. I was a boy and didn't know about things like this; I grunted and went to bed. I was awoken the next morning by my mom and younger sister who brought me out to the living room where my dad was already in tears. Then my mom started crying. My sister, not knowing what else to do, started to sob as well.Read more