Anyone who knows me, knows that I use my heart WAY more than my head. Perhaps to a fault? I follow my heart and trust my gut far above logic and facts. That’s what lead me down this path in the first place! Yet, its never done me wrong.
I read a book, followed my heart, and created an organization to support the education of schools in Pakistan and Afghanistan through Greg Mortenson’s, Central Asia Institute. I dove into the deep end because I HAD TO. In short seven months we had galvanized a community and exceeded our intended goal with lots of hard work, but truly little ‘effort’.
Then the success of what we had accomplished washed over us and we hurried to build on that momentum we had created with another partner in a different region, but it didn’t feel right. Nothing clicked. Things didn’t gel. Was I my own version of a one-hit-wonder? Doubts crept in and frustration created a plummeting energy drain that made keeping on task painfully difficult. Yet the community project in Nepal we were supporting was just as important as the schools in Pakistan, why was it so different this time around?
I just accepted that perhaps the thrill of the first steps and the wild popularity that swirled around Greg Mortenson’s work and his book, “Three Cups of Tea” buoyed us up. Perhaps this was an unrepeatable experience.
Then I went to Afghanistan. Despite friends, family, and colleagues advising me to think twice. Despite the general view that it was unnecessary. Despite the money. Despite the risk. Internally, I never wavered. Not from stubbornness, but because my gut said, “GO!” Deep inside I knew I HAD to go and that I would figure it all out before, during, and after.
And that is what I realized has to happen as Mountain to Mountain becomes its own, self-sustaining non profit organization. Moving from partnering with non profits to becoming our own. Our evolution has become necessary. To become sustainable, to do things ‘our way’, and to set our own course. The gut check says, you know what you want to do, go do it. There is enough red tape in the world without creating more. Just go, be, do.
This means that our Board of Directors has to think outside the box and look at how we set ourselves apart, becoming a non profit that doesn’t try to fit within the old molds of operation. Becoming a 21st century organization, that is willing to think globally AND locally. Our tagline of connecting communities and cultures was laid out in black and white in Afghanistan. Make a local connection so that people understand where their money is going, why they should support our projects, and how it will change lives. Use global resources and networks to extend our reach and support system. Use culture to educate those at home while preserving it in our project areas.
In our particular case, Mountain to Mountain’s Board needs to understand my vision and modus operandi – ie. my gut check. I need their structure to build our organization in order to do the hundred of projects queuing up in my line of sight. I need to be confident in my vision and know that the right people will come to the organization because of that vision. When I stray into the realm of doing what I think others think I should be doing, I fail. Trust your gut, it knows whats right even when your head tries to convince it otherwise! Lesson learned….moving on.
photo by Di Zinno