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Thursday, April 9, 2015

Live Your Dream: Two Questions

I had the privilege tonight of speaking to the Soroptimist International Awards Banquet in Flagstaff, a collaborative effort among the three Flagstaff area clubs. This is the second time I've spoken before this group, the last in 2011, and both times I've wondered what I could share that was as inspiring as the honorees themselves.

The women honored during this banquet include recipients of the Live Your Dream scholarships, granted to women who are the primary source of financial support for their families and want to improve their education, skills and employment prospects. The women honored this evening have overcome challenges and obstacles that I cannot even imagine.

Yet there I was, trying to say something inspirational.

I had no idea what I was going to say. I had three options in my purse of things I could say, but nothing really resonated with me. As late as walking in the door, I didn't know what would come out of my mouth when I stepped up to the podium.

Then, I spoke to Helen.

Helen Horstman was, technically, my assistant at my first director level job. She was Executive Assistant to the Director when I became only the second Development Director at Lowell Observatory in its 100+ year history. She was assigned, part-time, to the development program, and continued to be the only other staff member assigned to development in the four years I served in that position.

Since I was a mere 26 years old when I was hired, Helen terrified me for my first month on the job. I don't think Helen did this intentionally. She just wasn't willing to take any nonsense from a young newbie.

Now, 14 years after leaving the Observatory, in my short conversation with Helen at dinner, I was reminded why I was in this business.

It's about philanthropy. And what's philanthropy all about, anyway?

It's about love.

The word philanthropy comes from a Greek root, philos anthropos, "love of mankind." I have taught this numerous times in the CFRE Review Course and mentioned it when describing my personal philanthropic ethos.

But what made philanthropy top of mind tonight was the combination of "love of mankind" with a question: "Does this bring you joy?"

One of the blogs I read is "Hey Eleanor," by Molly Mogren Katt, who writes about doing something that scares her on a regular basis. A recent blog focused on the KonMari method of tidying up, and after reading Molly's blog, I immediately purchased the book and began my discarding journey.

The biggest evaluation question in KonMari? "Does this (fill in the blank item) spark joy?" Over the last week, I've applied this question to a boatload of clothes and books. clearing the way for a lot of newly discovered space in my home.

It's amazing how quickly this question filtered over into other things in my life.

I've been struggling lately with work and volunteer commitments. As many "type A" personalities, I say yes to too much.

So, I present the one-two punch: "does this bring you joy?" and "does this express your love for mankind?"

GoalBusters could be a larger company, We could make more profit. But ultimately, I don't think that expresses my philanthropy, and I don't think it brings me joy.

So I return to the GoalBusters manifesto. Making a lasting impact brings me joy and expresses my love for humankind. As I move forward, I will be taking a very thoughtful look at everything I do through these lenses, because if it doesn't bring me joy and doesn't help me express my philanthropy, why am I doing it?

I thank Helen and the Soroptimists for reminding me of that. You do amazing work in our community, and I thank you for helping not only the recipients of your scholarships, but also, me, who was supposed to be inspiring YOU.




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