Keep The Fire
I just spent the week in Wayne, America, running on at most 5 hours of sleep every night, averaging 17,000 steps per day, sweating through every article of clothing I packed at least three times due to 98 degree days and 80% humidity. But it was the best week of my life.
Some of you may have asked me to hang out before, and I’ve replied with something along the lines of “Sorry I have a Launch meeting that day,” or “I’m volunteering with the nonprofit I work with.” Often, this is met with “I thought you said Lunch,” which is an amazing meal and incredibly underrated. But no. Launch Leadership is a nonprofit that works with youth (grades 6-12) to help develop them develop their leadership skills through experiential learning and in-depth discussions. We offer services year-round on a variety of scales, but we are most known for is our Summer Workshops. We specifically have branded them as workshops, because we make the students (we call them delegates) work. In the words of one delegate this week stated so succinctly in an epiphany, “I get it now! Everything we do here has a purpose!”
I spent the week working as a coach, and serving on the Operations staff to make sure things ran smoothly. The coaching position was added last year as an initiative to help our staffers continue to grow and develop their own leadership skills, as well as look at trends within our staff and what might be helpful for ongoing education. I didn’t really know what I was getting into when I agreed to take on this position for its second run, but in retrospect, it may be one of the best decisions I’ve made in a long time.
Through coaching, I was able to sit in around ten different co-ops (groups of 12ish delegates with two staff members facilitating the activities and discussion), and help our staff members be the best possible versions of their selves. I was able to see the wide variety of leaders we have in action, affirm them in their strengths, and help them problem solve any difficult situations. All you need to know is that I walked away from this week with an overflowing bucket.
The reason I tell you all of this is to give you some context about the organization and how I was spending my time. But here is what I really want to say.
I joined this organization two years ago because I believe in its mission. I’ve stayed in this organization because I believe in the people.
This organization has helped not only delegates, but also staff, celebrate their authentic selves. It’s one of the most uplifting communities I’ve ever been a part of. In it, I feel valued, not only for the work I contribute to the organization, but also for who I am as a human being. With so many facets to the organization, they work very hard to help staff members find their niche, where they can operate within their strengths.
Are you loud and energetic? Are you sunshine personified? Or maybe you’ve very warm and sincere? Perhaps you’re charismatic with a dry sense of humor? There’s a place at the table for each of these leaders, and the people there value each and every one of them for who they are.
And selfishly, when it comes down to it, these people make me feel good. Or should I say warm and fuzzy? They are invested in the individual. They see me for who I am, and they recognize my strengths. They help me become more and more self-aware the more I spend time with them. Instead of asking me to change who I am as a person, they help me be better. Compared to past relationships I’ve found myself in, I’m valued for who I am, even if we don’t see the world through the exact same lens. I love that Launch has a diverse group of ideas and perspectives— we’re better for it. I love it even more, because I feel at home within the community, even with people who don’t agree with everything I believe. It gives me hope for a brighter future and a better world.
Similarly, it has helped rejuvenate my heart for volunteer work. I’ve given my spare time to a lot of things over the years, and nothing ever felt like the perfect fit. Even while going through training for Launch, I was curious where I would best belong, feeling like nothing was exactly my calling or my passion. If you feel this way in the things you’re involved in, don’t give up. If you believe in the organization and you love the people, you can help make a role that fits your strengths. I’m incredibly thankful for those in leadership who have pushed me and challenged me to pursue bigger roles with more responsibility within Launch. Without them, I never would have found coaching, I never would have had the best week ever, and I wouldn’t have built the connections I did this week.
For those of you who were sweating with me out in Wayne this week, thank you. Thank you for being a part of an absolutely life-changing week for me. I so deeply appreciate calling you family, and for having shared memories with you. Watching you be your best was so fulfilling to me; I love seeing people function within their giftings. I hope you feel as much value and appreciation after a long week as I do, because you all made this week run so smoothly. I cannot wait for the next time we’re together, whether it be a service or a hangout, because I cannot wait to hug you/laugh with you/affirm you/help you/(fill in your love language here).
For everyone who is thinking “what kool-aid did she drink?”, the best kind. And I bet there’s something out there that would get you this excited too. I encourage you to go find it, and chase it relentlessly.
KTF (Keep The Fire).