Wrinkly Brains and Magnanimous Hearts

Wrinkly Brains and Magnanimous Hearts

My husband sends me an encouraging text message every day.  Sometimes it’s a funny meme, other times a silly .gif or video, and occasionally—my favorite times—he authors his own creations.  For example, who wouldn’t want to receive a text like this—from anyone—to start your day?

Exude awesomeness all over the place like you do every day!!!!!! Love!!!!!

See what I mean?  Folks, I married well!  And I’m so grateful to have that man in my corner—best decision I’ve ever made.  Shortly before I took this job, I remember sitting down to talk with him about what was about to happen.  Leadership is hard.  Oftentimes, when you’re truly leading, no one else has forged that path before. So, you walk by faith and experience and a whole lot of intuition—along with the support of those who love you and believe in your ability to be a visioneer—a visionary engineer.

After that conversation, I decided to take this awesome job to lead the Community Foundation of Grant County.  I promised him that I wouldn’t drag him along to all the chicken dinners and he promised to back me on the good days and the bad days. Sometimes that support is in the form of a date night, other times its with breakfast in bed, a 6-pack of Reese’s pumpkins, filling my gas tank up, or ensuring that I always have 16-ounce Diet Dr. Peppers on hand daily.  No one wants to deal with an uncaffeinated Dawn Brown, so this really benefits Grant County as a whole.

And even though I knew we made this decision to lead together, it was still a bit scary.  Leaders fail.  A lot. At every level. Many times, leaders can readily say, “I’ve never done this before”. And the beauty is, they’re ok with that—They may even prefer it. But I needed to do it because of Ray Dalio’s wisdom. He’s the Founder at Bridgewater Associates and he said, “I feared boredom and mediocrity much more than I feared failure”. Boom!  Mic drop!  That was it. Boredom and mediocrity are far worse outcomes for both leaders and for the community they live in. You may want to take a second to ask yourself two highly important questions: (1) How am I leading where I live? and (2) How am I truly living where I live? (As in enjoying all your community has to offer.)

Of course, no one sets out to fail, but if you learn from failure, you technically fail forward. You won’t make that same mistake again. That’s valuable!  That’s how you learn in the school of Hard Knocks and the Game of Life.  This is what builds wisdom and character and grit. Ah, grit. Angela Duckworth wrote a great book called, Grit:  The Power of Passion and Perseverance.  If there’s two things that leaders need it’s passion and perseverance with a large dash of grit. Technically, Merriam-Webster defines grit as ‘abrasives composed of hard, sharp granules’. I actually love that definition because it reminds me of an oyster.

Sure, some people love oysters on the half shell, but many more love the pearls that an oyster makes. But did you know that an oyster can’t make a pearl without an irritant—often that’s abrasive sand. The irritant gets caught in the creature’s tissue forcing the oyster to move into action to protect itself.  As a means of protection, it begins encasing that irritant in layers of the same materials its shell comprises. And after many years and layers, the pearl is formed. So, yeah, if you want the prized pearl—no matter what form that takes in your leadership journey—you’ll have to ensure some irritants—they might look incredibly similar to failures.  That’s why it’s good to have some protectors on your side.

As a community foundation, we have many protectors. Literally thousands and thousands of donors have given generously through us to ensure local nonprofits have the resources they need to serve those most in need in our community.  That means fewer kiddos will sleep bundled up in their coats this winter or go hungry on the weekends.  It means local adults will get their mental health care, a meal, or a degree. It even means homeless pets can get spayed, neutered, fed, and adopted. These donors selflessly give to lift others up. It’s beautiful to witness that kind of protection and we’re blessed to see it every day.

We’re protected by our Board of Directors. They are seriously smart, passionate, talented people who choose to serve our organization—our community—in their free time! The layers and layers of protection they’ve given us through the years has created some amazing pearls. And in the next few years, you’ll get to witness even more of this as it looks like we’ll be moving into the gemstone production business! We’re gonna feel like Oprah giving pearls to everyone! You get a pearl, and you get a pearl! Everybody gets a pearl!

We’re excited that the new strategic plan that they’ve developed will be released to you in Q4 of this year.  You’ll see how wrinkled their brains are and how magnanimous their hearts are in the bold, new ways they’ve decided to lead (read make pearls) in this county. Note the word ‘decided’.

I want you to understand how intentional your Community Foundation Board has been in dreaming about our future in Grant County.  They’ve decided to give to make an impact. They’ve decided to collaborate to make an impact. They’ve decided to build to make an impact.  They’ve decided to invest to make an impact. They’ve intentionally made these wisdomaximous choices, not because any of them are easy, but because they want to support the growth of this county through their giftedness in leadership.  They don’t want us to survive, they want us to thrive.

Decisions are really cool verbs!  And decisions change your life. My decision to marry a man who will text me such silly encouragement each day has made my life so much better.  When my Board was tasked with the choice to ‘Go Big or Go Home’ and they decided to ‘Go Big because this is our home’, they made a game-changing choice.

So, follow along on this leadership journey and help where you can when we need it. Because if I know what thing for sure, leadership is a team sport that requires many wrinkly brains and magnanimous hearts!

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