Ok, so it wasn’t a vacation – not by a long stretch. But I’ve finally caught my breath enough to share the results of this year’s sabbatical.
I’m feeling the need to start by saying, “If you’ve thought about taking time off to figure stuff out or to work on a project, do it.”
Most people think they can’t do this, and the truth is we can find a way. It doesn’t mean giving up your full time job; it means rearranging the part of your life when you’re not at that full time job. (As you’ll read here, there was no way I could step fully away from Creating the Future. Being in start-up mode, there is no one else to do stuff!)
What it does mean is deciding you will focus. And then making room to focus – in part by telling the rest of the world, “I am focusing. Here are the dates during which that focus will occur. During those dates, have as few expectations of me as possible. I will not return your calls or emails. Act as if I am not here.”
And then it takes doing it. Which is what I did for 10 weeks this year. And here are the results…
Two Huge Projects
I had two big projects in mind for this year’s sabbatical, and both got tremendous boosts. The first is a brand new thought construct for me – what I’ve been calling the Continuum of Potential. I’ll be writing more about that over the coming months, to share with you what I’ve learned.
The Continuum is a way I’ve found for explaining why some people seem ready to create the future of everything they see, and others seem stuck in one place and unable to budge. The Continuum allows us to better understand how others are experiencing life, and to encourage their potential with compassion (rather than frustration and judgment and “Why won’t they just _____!?”)
This is a thought construct I’ve been researching and developing and working with on my own for about 2 years. For my first steps outside that bubble – the first steps towards sharing what I was discovering in a way that others could use – I chose to teach a webinar for Creating the Future’s immersion graduates. This allowed me to put my toe into explaining and sharing a fairly complex construct, in a safe environment with people who speak the same language as me – a good test of my ability to move those thoughts out into the world.
So I brain-dumped the concept into a massive outline, then scripted and recorded a 1-hour video class, outlined and wrote a workbook to accompany the class, and then scheduled Q&A / practice sessions. Truly, that amount of work alone would have been a great result of this sabbatical.
Except that there was another huge project beckoning – writing Creating the Future’s theory of change, so we can post it to the website, and so it can become my next book, the sequel to The Pollyanna Principles.
Those of you who have followed my writing process for a while will recognize that crafting these two huge efforts meant not one outline on my plate glass windows, but one for the Continuum of Potential – and then removing that one to replace it with the outline for the book! (Confession: many of the post-its for the book are still on that window, here at the end of October. My goal is to have them all in the computer by November 1…)
The outline for the book became the outline for the keynote I gave in Idaho at the end of September, barely two weeks after emerging back into the world. What a gift it was to have the immediate opportunity to whittle my huge brain-dumped outline down to its essence, to share in a 50 minute talk with a room full of 300 blank slates – folks who knew nothing of this work. If I could make the concepts accessible to them in that short amount of time, I would know I was well on my way. (The good news from the evaluations: It appears I succeeded!!)
From there, we have begun turning that work into an Infographic (see that full size here), to begin to explain not only the theory of change, but what Creating the Future is doing to put that theory into action. All that from a few weeks of focused work (and a few dozen post-it pads!).
(And to those who are anxious for that next book, I am first turning these thoughts into a short e-book. I don’t want you to have to wait the year it will likely take me to write that whole book! I do promise, though, it’s all on its way.)
But wait, there’s more…
Having 10 weeks when no one expected anything of me allowed me to do more than just those two projects. It allowed me to focus on some smaller projects that had not been getting the attention they needed.
I began the quiet phase of a monthly giving campaign for Creating the Future – something you’ll be seeing more about soon.
I recruited and then trained a brand new position for Creating the Future – the board’s Recording Secretaries (we had 2 candidates so amazing we chose them both!). What a gift that has been!!
I had time to plan our first official immersion course for on-the-ground changemakers, working with the Girl Scouts of Southern Arizona to co-sponsor a session for Arizona orgs focused on empowering women and girls.
There was the normal stuff that couldn’t just be abandoned – board meetings to prepare for, the #NPCons chat, the Making Change podcast interviews. And the bookkeeping and other mundane stuff that comes with being a start-up org (i.e. doing it all ourselves until we get funded to hire staff).
There was also the stuff of life – stuff that just happens. A trip to spend time with my childhood best friend and her family, following the sudden loss of the man who has been, since I was 12 years old, my second dad.
In between all that, I sewed. I read. I gardened. I got new glasses.
And I conceived an idea not yet fully developed but soon to be Creating the Future’s next big thing – the thought that all the plans this start-up is about to develop for our own growth, we will do live online, allowing the whole world to watch and participate and learn…
And you guys helped make that happen!
When I first started this sabbatical, I asked for your support. I asked you to send love, to send books, to send wishes and encouragement – and to send gifts.
You sent all that and more. I have to say the best gift ever was from Crystal at the Idaho Nonprofit Center, who at six months pregnant, sent me her baby girl’s sonogram. How’s THAT for encouragement to create an amazing future?! When I finally got to Idaho in September, the first thing I wanted to do was rub her belly and say hello to that little one!!
My sabbatical is now one month behind me. I’m excited to be back in the saddle, excited to be moving forward with all kinds of things for Creating the Future, and excited to keep writing the book that was birthed on my plate glass windows.
And I’m excited and grateful that you all are alongside me as we all head down that road hand-in-hand.