Progress always involves risks. You can’t steal second base and keep your foot on first. ~Frederick B. Wilcox
As we approach the mid-way point of our fellowship, I would like to use this weeks post to reflect. By definition, (admittedly taken from Wikipedia) “a fellow is often part of an elite group of learned people who are awarded fellowship to work together as peers in the pursuit of knowledge or practice.” Not For Sale describes their fellowship as “a six-month program designed to enhance one’s professional experience working in an entrepreneurial focused, grassroots, abolitionist campaign.” With the promise of working together in the pursuit of knowledge, turning my passion into a vocation, changing history, and ending slavery, how could I pass up the opportunity?
Now almost three months later I’m learning more about myself than I had expected. Not For Sale was built on the ethos that you can take an idea and run with it – ruthlessly execute on what you believe is the next best project for the organization. I admire senior management for trusting their staff to implement their own ideas and I admire the staff for being so innovative and ambitious. But with this culture comes the acceptance that not all projects will succeed. Great risk may bring failure, but without great risk we would see no progress.
As I reflect on where we’ve come so far, this is what resonates within me. Sometimes things don’t turn out the way you expect them to, and sometimes things outright fail. But that’s no reason to be disappointed or discouraged. It’s just time to take a step back and reevaluate the real reason for doing it in the first place, what you want the outcome to be, and how you can make a change to see it happen. Sometimes it may be unsalvageable. But most of the time there’s just another way of doing things – you might just need to look at it differently. Or ask for help. Or try something else.
We are reminded all of the time that this movement isn’t about us. What drives me in this movement is not that I am doing something that’s making a lasting change, it’s that change is happening. We are working from the bottom up in vulnerable communities to change the way things are being done at the core – this is bigger then ourselves.
Still, a part of this fellowship is about us. I came to California with an eagerness to learn as much as possible about the movement, my place in it, and myself – and I’m only starting to scratch the surface. I can’t wait to see what the next three months at Not For Sale will have in store for me, and I’m grateful to have the opportunity to jump into new projects and see what works, but even more importantly, what doesn’t work. It’s only then that we learn.