A right-handed [wo]man, blindfolded and told to walk in a straight line. Inspired by observing the spiral path of an amoeba. Flickr photo by finnb
I've been focusing on Lend4Health
"full-time" now for a month, and within this time I've watched and witnessed so much progress and forward motion. Yet much of it is invisible, intangible, unquantifiable. Every day this past month, some connection or another has been made, and while I can't tell yet how each will impact the future of Lend4Health, I have this rumbling-belly-sense that they will.
This is what happens when you start something without planning it out. This is what happens when you are an "accidental social entrepreneur." Each day feels more and more random, yet it feels like there is an organization to that randomness -- an organization that I myself did not create.
I realize that I am living out my favorite saying: "Kupotea njia ndiyo kujua njia" (Swahili) which roughly means, "To lose the way is to find the way."
Folks, I have completely lost "the way." I feel like I am bumbling around in a very dark hotel room and don't know where the furniture is, or where the light switch can be found. I want to shout, "Somebody! Turn on the light!" but I know I must find it myself, and that it is better that way.
On a daily basis now, I immerse myself in Twitter
. I follow and converse with folks who I feel "know what they're doing." They know where the light switch is for their own projects, and in some cases, they own the whole damn hotel chain. Sometimes I have a 140-characters back-and-forth with them and feel like, hey, maybe I am part of that crew. But then they will say something incredibly "brain-iac" or well-thought-out or just plain academic, and I remember, "Oh yeah, I am clueless."
I did not ask to be part of this "space." I did not wake up one day and decide to thrust myself into the world of social change-making. I honestly had never even heard of "social change" until people started intimating that I was doing it. (And it took me a few weeks of conversation with Joe Solomon
before I figured out what the heck a "social action" even was.)
This past month I have looked into applying for various social change-making grants because it seems like what I'm doing might qualify (and I'll need some funds eventually). But I look at the application forms and they ask big questions like "How will your organization change the world?" or "What is your theory for social change?" Ummmm, I don't know. Feeling dissatisfied with the strictly non-profit model, I looked into becoming a B Corp
) but I got stuck at the part where it asks me what industry I'm in. In cases like these, I instinctively want to default to the "But I'm a good person!" reply that my husband and I jokingly use when Life gets too complex and we don't know how to deal.
I feel like a small-town kid in the middle of a bustling, competitive big city. I don't speak the language and I can't compute the currency. The world of nonprofit tech, social entrepreneurship, social graphs, social media, and "causes wired" (H/T @tomwatson
) is enormous and seems to be growing and changing each day. Do I try to keep up? Do I pretend to be one of them?
Sometimes I get caught up in the hype and the glam. I get excited about creating the most amazing website in the world. I think about having an iPhone app and enabling mobile lending. I wonder if I have "shiny object syndrome" (H/T @kanter's blog
Breathe deep. In. Out. Come to center.
My husband knows me well. He sees me flailing in the confusion and asks pointedly, "What are you trying to do?"
Innocently, I answer, "Help people."
"Then do THAT," he says.
There is so much I *don't*
know. But I have realized this month that there is a lot I *do*
know. And it is this: *I*
am the foremost expert on Lend4Health. Like my own children, I know from whence it came, conceived with which intentions and born with which emotions. I know its shape and its smell; its imperfections and its glory. I have no idea what challenges it will face during puberty, or what it will become when it "grows up." I am amazed beyond words by its first ungraceful steps, and I will remain proud even if it develops more slowly than its peers. Nobody knows it better than me, and I am the one waking up in the middle of the night to feed and nurture it. This is what I know.
I believe that if I remember to stick to the basics -- stick to my original goal of helping people -- and continue to nurture the soul of this being I have created . . . the way will find me.