Theres a quote attributed to Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius and it goes something like this, “The impediment to action advances action. What stands in the way becomes the way." That quote has always bugged me. I assumed "what stands in the way" has to be moved out of the way to move forward. Oh my goodness have I been wrong.
For the most part, impediments, struggles, barriers, road blocks, challenges . . . whatever we call them – are viewed as the sum total of the challenge, and not as lessons and opportunities. I've been taught, strip away the barriers and plow through. I always thought I just had to work harder. If only I could eke out more hours in the day, then I can really address the challenges. It doesn't work that way – It just doesn't.
In my role as the Executive Director of an international NGO, the impediments are often financial. I’ve not met a not-for-profit leader who isn’t stymied by this same conundrum. We never seem to have enough money. On top of it - I am not a great, natural fundraiser. And yet, we are doing great work.
So, although the norm for non-governmental and not-for-profit organizations living with the feeling that there is never enough budget – we always have enough for our needs. We do.
I am traveling back to Perú and I picked up the latest book from one of my favorite authors – Brené Brown. Brown is one of those rare humans walking among us mere mortals, who has the ability to make the complex, tangible and simple. She’s a critical thinking academic and a soulful sage.
Her latest book, Dare to Lead, is a set of guideposts for living a life of uninhibited purpose. She talks a great deal about her research into leadership and the core elements that make leaders effective; and, well (spoiler alert) they are not what you think. Her guideposts are compassion and authenticity. Her research has identified leadership qualities that are fully grounded in vulnerability. This should not be a surprise for anyone who reads Brown’s research – but these are counter to the conventional culture that says “strong leaders” make things happen.
So here I am reading Brené Brown and thinking to myself how scared I am that HBI doesn't have enough money to truly move all our work. And then I realize, money is the way. It feels like a big burden at times. It does. But money, is a resource. Nothing more. It's a resource and we are very good at managing resources. In fact, that's what HBI is all about – connecting resource with need. We are so fortunate to have the opportunity to work with the boys living in the Casa Girasoles. It is a huge privilege to train healthcare professionals in NRP and emergency medicine. I am forever humbled by the work we do with families living in extreme poverty with children with a disability. It is so cool that we are developing a model public health program in our anemia project. If I focused only on the money we needed to run these diverse projects and programs, I would loose sight as to why these programs exist. I would forget that we are called to be the bridge for better lives. What a great calling. What a tremendous opportunity.
In many ways, I am maturing as a leader. I am learning that my vulnerabilities and weaknesses are also opportunities.
Thank you for your commitment to the work of HBI.
The HBI Blog is a rotating journal from our staff. Our Blog is a series of messages from the field, insights from our work, and lessons in service.