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Not yet passionate May 2, 2010

Posted by susandetwiler in Catalysts, Possibilities, Uncategorized.
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I guess turnabout is fair play. Usually I’m the one asking the question, but this time, someone asked me: what am I passionate about?

I couldn’t answer.

Now that’s a real lesson right there. It’s a hard question to answer.  Sure, in the nonprofit, NGO, charity world, the people who work there are usually able to come right back with a response. But if you’re not immersed in the world of ‘good works,’ you may not have thought about it at all.

As a consultant in the nonprofit world, I know a lot of people who are passionate about their causes. And it’s not uncommon for me to be a huge cheerleader for them.

Yet is their cause my cause?

Nope. Not really. I’ve just been influenced by highly passionate people (which is a GOOD thing for THEIR causes).

So what’s MY cause? Maybe it’s getting others to find their own mission and pursue it. Feed the hungry? Clothe the naked? provide for spiritual education? ensure women’s health? eliminate genocide? All of these are worthy of passion!

So…now…what do I do with that?

If someone asked you, right now, what are you passionate about? could you answer?

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Important conversations start April 25, 2010

Posted by susandetwiler in Catalysts, Possibilities, Uncategorized.
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At one of my clients’ establishments, there is a young man working as our maintenance person. I had the good fortune to spend about 10 minutes talking with him about something other than what needed fixing. It was a reminder of how much there is to learn about life and how our perspectives are influenced by our experiences.

His background is totally different from mine. I’m 56 years old, with a master’s degree, married, with 2 grown children. He’s probably about 25 years younger than me. Married, with a very young daughter. Not college educated, but full of street wisdom.

In our 10 minute talk, we connected over the fact that we each have relatives serving in conflict zones. We connected over our concern for the clients and other employees in this establishment. And we shared how important it is for each of us to recognize that our own experiences narrow our views of the world.

People of all ages, backgrounds, socioeconomic levels and faiths think about the same things. But we do it from different perspectives. By giving of ourselves in conversations, we connect with others. We show that we, too, think about important things.  Tacitly, we give permission to others to also open up. important conversations start.

Who you talkin’ to? April 22, 2010

Posted by susandetwiler in Possibilities, Uncategorized.
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I was up late last night, musing about how to go about exploring new directions. People are the key. Books are good; classes are helpful, but it’s experience that can give it all context. Jump up out of the chair and go out and mingle where the best and the brightest can be found. Don’t limit it to people that others deem best and brightest. Talk to young folks, old folks, people with life experiences.

I took a class called, A Crown of Glory: Aging in Jewish Text, Thought and Communal Life. There was a lot of substance to the course; we used text as a path toward talking about important subjects with people who had a lot of life experience.  It’s amazing how Ecclesiastes can focus a conversation.

It’s time to find people to talk to.

Possibilities April 20, 2010

Posted by susandetwiler in Career change, Catalysts, Possibilities.
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Conferences can be great catalysts for me. The usual things happen – new knowledge, new colleagues, maybe even new ideas. If I’m lucky, I meet someone who changes my way of thinking.

At the Association of Fundraising Professionals meeting this week, I had the great good fortune to meet some people who made me think about my mission in life. I don’t know how, or even if, I’m going to change, but it’s been an amazing experience to get excited about the possibilities.

There’s a truism in fundraising, “If you don’t ask, the answer is always no.” Well, it’s for darn sure that unless I consider the possibility of changing direction, I never will.

Of course, just considering whether I can do something, will then lead me to my mother’s lesson. “How will you know, if you don’t try?”

Hmm…there’s a Jewish tale associated with Exodus, of the average, everyday Israelite Nachshon, who with great faith in God and the future, waded into the Sea of Reeds. He was at the point at which he was about to drown before the Sea parted. Maybe my mother is right. How will I know, if I don’t try?