I’m not a scientist. In fact, science and exactitude aren’t my strong suits.
I love ideas, and embrace the artistic side of things. Much of my life (even during this last decade of reinvention, since I began figuring things out) has been about simultaneously flying the plane while building it. That’s how books get published.
If science is exact, then art is comfortable—or at least accepts—that sometimes, things aren’t perfectly aligned before you’re required to proceed. Some of my greatest and most meaningful successes began as a belief in an idea, fueled by passion, and the personal surety that I was doing the right thing; this carried me forward.
One thing I’ve come to trust in, and it rarely fails me; when I’m following my heart (instead of my head), and staying true to my values, then the right kind of people enter my life, even if for a brief season. These tend to be members of my “tribe.” Last night, I had a special dinner with some of them.
This morning, I’m part of an event that I began thinking about last November. Planning began in earnest in March. The die is now cast and at 8:30, “it’s show time!”
The past six weeks have required 12-hour days and long stretches grinding things out. The task list has been long and at the end of each week, the list didn’t seem much shorter. Monday came (or a Sunday afternoon given over to work), and another week of working towards a goal with multiple deadlines consumed me.
A small band of believers has kept me afloat. Their effort, support, and owning this project with me has been invaluable. I wouldn’t be here in Presque Isle, cautiously optimistic about what happens in a few hours, without you.
A handful of people have totally dropped the ball and were content to leave me holding the bag. There are a select few that I don’t even want to give them space in my head because if I do, I’m afraid about what I might say about them. Let me say one thing, however; “anyone can be a critic.”
This I know, as sure as I’m sitting here, writing at this early hour, at the Presque Isle Hampton Inn (a local business that’s really stepped up in a tangible way); I have some special people, friends of the Maine Business Leadership Network that get what we’re doing and demonstrate that belief with very tangible support. We could use a few more because we’re on the right side of history and we’re about the right kind of values and mission.
Sometimes, you’re a part of something; a movement, or an initiative that’s the right thing, and it serves an important purpose, or begins moving forward on an important issue long before others recognize the importance. Being a bellwether is lonely work.
Supporting positive employment outcomes for people with disabilities is one of those issues. In many ways, this work feels a lot like nearly seven years ago when my director at the time, handed me an initiative called WorkReady. I recognized this initiative for what it was and believed in it, cared for it, shepherded it forward, and WorkReady is now a statewide program.
The work I’m doing with the Maine BLN seems even bigger, and the side of the mountain much steeper. There is no designated entrance to the path, so me and a small group of true believers (also members of my “tribe”) are bushwhacking our way forward, cutting a swath through the brambles and overgrowth, and trying not to slide backwards.
I’m convinced that in a few more hours, I’ll receive validation that Presque Isle has been a success. In two weeks, it’s Bangor and another performance, after weeks of prep and attention to detail.
This is how movements are born and initiatives gain traction. It starts small and the crowds are thin at the beginning.