When it gets personal – a reboot at ChangeU!
Sometimes all it takes is a small negative to lose your way or to allow yourself to become lazy. Too often it takes a much-greater-in-scope situation to cause corrective action to be taken. So it is with the too long awaited reboot of the Champions of ChangeU blog series. However, the wait is over. The reboot will occur on Friday, June 2.
This current post is intended, in a way, to explain the months-long gap in blog posts. But mostly it will share the slap in the face that it took to bring about the timing of the reboot; the type of reality check it sometimes takes for one to wake up – really wake up.
The small negative that started the slide into “penlessness” was actually a technical glitch. The non-secure Web server on which our content resided went down. It took only a short time to recover what had been on that server and move it to a secure server. But yet-to-be posted posts were lost. That’s all it took. That’s all it takes when you are stretched thin. That’s all it takes when no one else has extra capacity to cover for you. That’s all it takes to stop recruiting support staff. That’s all it takes to make excuses to yourself and others for why the posts just stopped.
Then comes the slap in the face – and it was my face. I had taken four student consulting teams (four students per team) to Thailand to help for-profit extensions of not-for-profit organizations. Business plans, marketing strategies, promotional materials, financials, inventory management. Basic business stuff that is sometimes missing in such organizations. I try to hit each work site each day. The locations were up to an hour in separation making the visits difficult – even if there had been no language barrier – which there was. So one of the not-for-profit organizations very generously provided a guide/translator. The guide/translator turned out to be a smart, happy, tough, funny, caring, smiling, friendly young mother of five daughters, ages 7 to 17.
There is a long story that will not make the pages of this blog. It is her personal story, not mine. But her story – her history, her life – was my slap in the face. The story unveiled itself through hours of conversations in taxis. Suffice it to say that this young mother has dealt with more negatives in her 35 years than I imagine I will encounter in my entire life – yet never did she complain to me. Hers was a story of hope and victory that I really could not comprehend. The events of her 35 years caused me emotional grief that required immediate counsel from a friend who just happened to be one of the leaders of the organization which had loaned her to me.
My emotional grief was three-fold:
1. I felt real pain for this young lady. While she is now a lioness, tenderly caring for and fiercely protecting her five young daughters, she has suffered greatly in a multitude of ways beginning at age three. And she still deals with where those things have left her in life – yet with grace and a smile.
2. Her story was only the first of four life stories I had the opportunity to hear over two weeks. All different. Yet all the same. And those four are just four out of the tens of thousands of similar stories of young ladies in Thailand and the hundreds of thousands of stories of children, women and men around the world. It is overwhelming to conceive of the collective pain put upon and endured by those in constant oppression, distress and poverty. Literally, trying to come to grips with this global situation is physically and emotionally – and even spiritually – overwhelming!
3. I am a dad. I am a granddad. I provide, protect and fix. I take care of people and situations. But I can’t fix this. No, not the hundreds of thousands of situations and people. Just this one situation. This was unacceptable!
Yes, I could throw money around like a good westerner. But that does not fix it. I felt helpless in wanting to provide hope. I have been to a lot of places and I have seen a lot of unpleasant and unsetting things. But these three things together ripped at my emotions like no situation had ever done before. My students saw it in me and heard it from me and felt it through me. Thank God my friend gave me two hours of counsel the next day. Yes, he counseled. But that counsel included lots of very candid comments and advice and his own personal experiences with such situations – and lots of crying. And a little understanding.
What I wanted was a happy ending that I helped create/provide. What I realized is that I wanted the happy ending of movies in the U.S. in which I could take pride. What I realized is that I have no clue what a “happy” ending means to the people of the streets and slums of the most-gritty places on earth. And I felt helpless in my desire to make a difference – my desire to create hope – my desire to fix “it”!
The time with my friend and the subsequent time with the lioness and others with stories in Thailand got my emotional train back on track. No, I still don’t have all of the answers. But I am more determined to be more intentional about all that I do. And that includes ChangeU.
So what about ChangeU? I have a renewed deep appreciation for our Champions of ChangeU. Their stories on paper are really cool. But what is even “cooler” is that they roll up their sleeves every day and dive into the deep end of marginalized lives around the world – the lives of women and men like my lioness friend in Thailand. I am deeply humbled as I watch them lay their lives down every day for others. And I want to recognize their efforts now more than ever.
I also have a renewed deep obligation to our next generation of change-makers to provide examples of current change-makers as well as information related to change in the lives of the marginalized peoples around the world – and to encourage them to dive into the deep end as do our Champions of ChangeU.
So with deep regret I apologize for these past few months. At the same time, June 2 is the light at the end of the tunnel. Stay tuned…
… reboot …
… reboot …
… reboot …
Click here for Part 2 of 3: https://www.changeuniversity.org/uncategorized/the-reboot-at-changeu/
Dr. Jim King is the President of Change University. You may read more about him at the bottom of the page at this link:
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