Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Week 4 Inspiration

An inspirational email a week last year raised $5,000 for Pyramid Atlantic, an art center that builds communities through papermaking, printmaking and book arts. The money helped fund 69 art classes and workshops, 50 internships, studios for 419 artists and events for 7,539 people of all ages at Pyramid. This year, I am going to raise 1,000,000 pennies ($10,000).

I invite you to help me.

Three weeks are in the books and I have raised 120,000 pennies (or $1,200) with your help. Thank you to all who have contributed to date! Here is a picture of one of my penny partners, Kefa Cafe, and all the pennies they have collected.

But first, your inspiration for week 4:

"Today was one of those days when I just was not good enough. I tell my sons before school, before games, "do your best. " But how do you tell them that somedays, their best won't be enough. I don't know how to keep them from feeling the failure that accompanies trying something new, because you are bound to fail when you do that, before eventually growing stronger. It happens eventually, just not right away.

I learned about failure from my good friend Cyril Crocker. Cyril and I were classmates in a 13 month degree program run by George Washington University's Center for Excellence in Municipal Management for DC government employees. Cyril worked for the Deputy Mayor for Economic Development and I worked for the DC Commission for the Arts & Humanities. We were there to become better managers and return to our agencies and make them work better for the residents of the city. In the program, we learned about procurement, human resources, budgeting, leadership, communication and team building. At the end of the 13 month program, all of the students participate in a culminating Capstone Project. The Captsone Project is a re-enactment of the city's annual presentation of its budget to Congress. We all were assigned different roles such as City Manager, Chair of the City Council, Head of Public Work, Mayor, etc. I was chosen to play the Mayor. We were given 2 days to prepare for our presentation. The whole time we were preparing, our professors (who played the Mock Congress) were changing things up in order to to make it extremely difficult for us to make decisions. They would call impromptu press conferences. They would send us memos from Congress changing the amount of money budgeted and the amount in reserve. Well, Day 2 came and we went down to one of the Congress Ofiice Buildings for our Mock presentation. We made our presentation and after deliberating, the Mock Congress did not approve our budget. I was furious and exhausted. I stayed up all night preparing. I worked so hard, we all had. It was our last assignment and I felt I had failed.

I met with my friend Cyril for lunch a few days later. We got to talking about the mock hearing and he said "wasn't that a great experience." I nodded and said "yeah." I didn't think it was a great experience, but I didn't want to dampen Cyril's enthusiasm. He kept going. "We had an opportunity to do that, to make that kind of a presentation, under difficult circumstances, in such a short period of time. We had an opportunity to fail at that level. That is a privilege that most people will never have."

And that's when I learned what failure really is. Failure is not an indictment of coming up short. Its a celebration of risking it all. Failure's reward is learning how much more you have to grow to be successful and discovering how willing you are to do it. Its easy to walk away and say, I failed and blame yourself and others. Its much harder to say I failed and despite the failure, be grateful for the opportunity. I know my 7 and 11 year old aren't ready to hear that, but the reward is not the result, its the opportunity. Everytime I fail I learn that much more about myself and inch that much closer to succeeding. So, I hold on tight on days like today, when my best was not good enough. I hold on because I am almost there. "

I hope I inspired you to join my campaign today. Its easy:
If all this penny stuff is too complicated and you just want to make a contribution, you can donate in any form of currency to Pyramid Atlantic by clicking here. I will add up your donation in pennies and include it in my campaign.

Join me this Sunday the 26th at 3:30 at Pyramid Atlantic for a book signing with award winning children's author, Mary Amato. Pick up a copy of her latest book and bring your pennies. I will take them to my friends at Eagle Bank.

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