Growing up in suburban Ottawa, whenever I was faced with writer’s block, whether it be for a school assignment, or a passion project, I would often pace the square footage of my family home. I’m sure my Mom has many memories of hearing my slippered covered feet shuffle across the hardwood. Now that I’ve moved to Vancouver, the suburban home I used to pace has changed to bustling streets, mountain views, and sandy beaches. 

When I first started writing this blogpost, I wasn’t entirely sure what it should be about. As I sat at my desk, I had a range of different potential topics floating in my head, but none of them seemed right, none of them stood out. With a frustrated sigh, I stood up, packed my laptop, and headed out for a stroll in hopes of fighting my writer’s block.  

While on my walk, I found myself gravitating towards the beach. With the beautiful summer sun beating down on the top of my head, and a light breeze blowing through the air, it seemed like quite literally the perfect day to sit on the warm sand and write. After (very quickly) dipping my feet in the cold English Bay water, I made my way across the beach in search of the perfect spot. Instantly, I was hit with my topic for this blogpost, Stop to Smell the Roses. 

In life, it’s so incredibly easy to get swept away with expectations and big picture goals. Not to say this is necessarily a bad thing, however, you might find yourself frustrated and discouraged when things take awhile to actualize. You might find (at least I have) that life continues to pass by, while you’re sorting out the issues you’re facing. We forget to look up from our phones, or laptops, and truly embrace the environment we’re in.  

The best example I can think of this is hiking. I constantly have to remind myself to look UP while I’m navigating the tricky terrain. My automatic reaction is always to look at my feet, watch the ground, and power through until I get to the top. I’m also particularly clumsy, meaning a lot of my focus is directed on not tripping. BUT, by doing this, I’ve almost missed out on some incredible sights along the way. Another example is occurring while I type this blogpost. While mapping out this blogpost, I looked up from my laptop to see a beautiful seal swimming close to the shore. Since moving to Vancouver, I have uncovered my love for aquatic life, and have been hoping to see a seal this summer. 

Now, you might be wondering, how does this all relate to philanthropy? I promise (at least for me and I hope for you too) it does. At the Conconi Family Foundation, we’re working towards systems level change. As the name suggests, the goals within this work are incredibly big picture and complex. Changing systems that have been in place and enforced for 10, 20, 30 years or more can’t happen overnight, and at least from my experience, this line of work includes a numerous amount of little steps that contribute to the completion of the project. BUT! Along the way there are many many small wins and progress points that are easy to overlook. This could include completing the first step in an implementation project, finishing a draft of a proposal, or maybe even scheduling a meeting that’s been tricky.  

I highly encourage you to check in, not only with your team, but also with yourself. How do you feel about the progress being made? Ask yourself what are you most proud of when you think about the work you’re doing? With how quick the world moves (how the heck is it almost August already?) it’s important that we remind ourselves to slow down, and appreciate what’s going on in the current moment. While there’s nothing wrong with striving towards completing a project, it can be helpful to slow down, look at all the progress you made, and reflect on the learnings. 

Similar to missing the views on a hike, if you just drive through completing a project, you can miss out on the incredible learnings along the way. 

See you all soon in my next lessons blogspot!


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