Where are you headed?

Slide02A couple of weeks ago, I bounded out of a client’s office after another productive meeting and headed to the parking garage eager to tackle some of the things we had discussed. I was energized and focused. I followed my usual route to the garage. As I walked, I must have had some sort of energy coming off of me, because the people I passed on this busy sidewalk literally stepped aside to make a path for me. I was a tad uncomfortable that people were stepping aside for me so I thought about what I might be projecting as I walked through the crowd: I had a smile on my face, I said hello to passers-by, and although my hands were full, the load was not heavy. I knew where I was headed and what I intended to do next.  The uncomfortableness turned into gratitude. How kind of these people to step aside for me. It reminded me of a quote by David Starr Jordan: “The world stands aside to let anyone pass who knows where he is going.”

Slide71It happened again last week, except this time, I willingly stepped aside for someone to come through the crowd.

The world often times does step aside for those who know exactly where they are headed. This is true in the nonprofit sector, especially when vision and innovation meet excellence.

Last week, the International Fundraising Congress presented the award for “Innovative Fundraising Campaign” to Diakonie Frankfurt: Help the OMA campaign. This unique campaign tapped into the goodness of people and their willingness to stop what they are doing in order to help a stranger in need.

After watching the Help the OMA video series, I replayed my walk to the parking garage again in my mind. Would I have noticed one of these women and stopped to help? Was I too focused moving onto my next “thing?” Certainly some of the people I passed to take the lead would have noticed, and I suspect a smaller amount would have actually stopped to help. I also know I certainly would have noticed the women had it been the day I stepped aside to let another take the lead.

Whether you are working on a year-end appeal, preparing to launch a major campaign or looking for extra volunteer hands to help carry the load like Diakonie, let us always seek the appropriate balance between knowing where you are headed with when to step aside and when to take the lead. The world will make room for all of us who know where we are headed.

-Nancy Patterson

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