Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Inspiration for Week 8

Week 7 is in the books and I am at 290,062 pennies or ($2,962.00). The power of the penny is a beautiful thing and I would like to welcome my newest penny partner site: Statland & Katz, who will join us in our race to 1,000,000 pennies!

But first, here is your inspiration for Week 8:

"I started working with Regina Romero 6 months after I got the job as Executive Director of Pyramid Atlantic. Regina gave me the best advice ever about the job of Executive Director. I think it applies to more than just being an Executive Director, I think it applies to being a leader.

My first year at Pyramid was the toughest. Helen Frederick, the Founder of Pyramid, had retired after 27 years in 2007 and the Board hired me as the organizations second Executive Director. I had never been an Executive Director. I wanted so bad to make this work and be the best. I was determined to try to be everything for everyone. Well, as you might have guessed, I was killing myself and felt like I was getting nowhere. I thought I had it all figured out, but I did not have a clue. So one morning Regina and I are having coffee, and I think she could sense how frustrated and depressed I was. She looked at me and said, "Listen, I work with a lot of different heads of companies. I work with CEO's in Fortune 500 companies, I work with Executive Directors of Non-Profits, and I work with Agency Heads in Government. But I am not an expert on what it is they do. I couldn't possibly be. What I do is teach them how to make decisions." Right when she said that, the dark clouds began to drift away, because I love making decisions. "That is what being an Executive Director is all about," she said. "Its about making decisions. In order to do that you have to make sure that you have the information that you need to do that. So you gather information, ask questions and then you make your decision." It was like she had lifted the 600 pound gorilla off my shoulders. I didn't have to try to be Helen anymore. I could be Jose and do what I do best. I could ask questions, get information together and make decisions. That day reaffirmed that I was in the right place at the right time and I started asking questions and making decisions.

I think of Regina's advice whenever I am overwhelemed and confused. I ask myself, what's the decision I have to make? What information do I need to make it? How do I find out what it is that I need to know so I can act? There is no magic fairy dust to sprinkle on difficult situations. There is no right or wrong. It is more like right and right most of the time. It's about moving from a place of not knowing to a place of knowing. I think leadership is about having the courage to start this personal journey and staying on it, even when it gets difficult and seems hopeless. I thought about Regina recently because Pyramid Atlantic will be kicking off a million dollar capital campaign soon to raise funds for our new space at the Silver Spring Library. Now some people would run from the room when the words 1 million dollars are mentioned, but I believe that it can be done. Why? I have never done one before and have never raised more than $5,000. What makes me think its possible? Well, I love to learn, ask questions, and make decisions. I can talk to people and pick their brains. Find out what it is they know that I don't and what it is I have to do, and do it. Thats what its all about. No one can keep me from learning what it is I need to know but me, whether it be a capital campaign or something else.

I got over myself that day over coffee with Regina. I quit thinking about myself as someone that wasn't good enough to lead to someone that all the capacity in the world too. I embraced my strengths, my curiosity, my love of learning and my ability to fail and get write back up. Its not very glamorous or romantic, but its made all the difference to me and made me the leader I am today."

I hope I inspired you to join me in raising 1,000,000 pennies for pyramid. The pennies will help support art classes and workshops, internships, studios for artists and events for people of all ages at Pyramid. 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.

Bring your pennies and I will take them to my friends at Eagle Bank.

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