When I was young, I experienced some pretty terrible growing pains. My legs hurt so badly, nothing could subside the pain. But those pains led to my physical growth, which is something that I needed (though I never reached my dreams of being tall!). Thirty years later, I’m experiencing a new set of growing pains. I know that likely these pains are necessary just as before, but it’s hard to welcome it with open arms.
One year ago, I was in the process of creating Cultivate. I can’t believe we’ve reached our one year anniversary! This first year has been so many things wrapped into one. Learning how to start and run an organization, I’ve had to become an expert on so many things (web development, accounting and financial management, graphic design, fundraising, public speaking, and so much more). This past year my time and energy have been heavily focused on establishing the foundation for Cultivate, the behind-the-scenes work that is necessary for the organization to exist. I’ve often felt that I haven’t been able to devote my time and energy to the “thing” that Cultivate actually exists for – to equip and empower local and global change-makers, so they follow their dreams of bringing positive change to their communities.
But now as Cultivate starts its second year, I’m facing a new challenge. Now a new phase is starting, where I will need to give so much more of myself to our mission. How do I learn to live with the responsibility and burden of leading an organization that so many people are counting on? I fear that I will not be able to live up to these expectations – expectations that I place on myself and expectations that others are rightfully placing on me. Our trainees are counting on Cultivate to serve and assist them; that is what we have promised them. We can’t promise that our trainees’ work will be successful because of their work with us, but that is my goal. Success means that they will be fully equipped and capable of launching, leading, and sustaining projects that serve their community’s needs. I so deeply believe in our trainees’ visions and resonate with their passions. Their success is my success. But also my failures can lead to their failures. This is the burden that I bear.
I know that this burden is healthy; its the growing pains that will lead to my growth as Cultivate’s leader and my drive for our trainees’ success. The fear of failure and of letting people down is the fire at my heels that propels me forward. I need this. It is painful at times, but its for my own good.
-Elaine, Executive Director