Tag Archives: difficulty

The Power of Failure

Yesterday I participated in the #npcons (Twitter chat for nonprofit consultants) chat on cranking up creativity, and a frequent theme was that true creativity results, at least occasionally, in failure. I had failing on the brain already after a recent job interview when I was asked about my biggest failure.

I’ve long seen that failure is a natural part of the learning process, and that something isn’t a complete failure if valuable lessons are learned. I also believe that the world needs more stories of failure – especially lessons learned and growth from failure – as they encourage others to risk and try new things. In that light – drumroll please – here is the story that I shared with my interviewer about my biggest fail: Continue reading

On Hard Tasks

Mount Rainier with the Carbon River

One of the views of Rainier only visible by foot

This last weekend I went on my first backpacking trip, a few days hiking around Mt. Rainier National Park. It was a wonderful trip, and I’m definitely hooked on backpacking, despite it including some of the hardest physical things that I have ever done.

That seeming contradiction of an experience being rewarding and being very difficult at the same time reminded me of interactions that I had with a supervisor a while back. When asking me to do a task for her, would often preface her requests with “Don’t do this if it’s hard, but…” I was always unsure of how to respond to these request, mostly feeling that we had some philosophical differences about the value of difficulty. Continue reading

Lessons from Touring

2009 Olympics Tour

Believe it or not, this is a picture of me having fun.

When I tell new people that I enjoy bike touring, I tend to get looks that range from impressed to horrified. People seem to either think that it’s an adventure that they could never possibly enjoy themselves, or a supreme torture that would only be fun for a complete glutton for punishment. It’s definitely in the middle of those two extremes, and like any activity, it takes some planning and preparation for things to go well. I went on my first tour when I was 12 years old on a trip run by my local Girl Scout council. After spending a week in our local camp learning basic bike maintenance and riding around our trails, we went on a three-day trip to ride the Cedar Valley Nature Trail. The trail itself is a converted railroad track, which would make for easy riding, but our three days gave us the worst that an Iowa July could offer. The key moment of the trip was when we were all cowered in a ditch waiting for a severe storm to pass, but, luckily, a farmer invited us to take shelter in his barn before we got too wet. It’s good that my touring adventures as an adult have gone better than that first trip, or I definitely wouldn’t have kept up with the hobby. I’ve only gone on a few trips as an adult, with the largest being a tour across the north side of the Olympic Peninsula. Still, I have learned some key lessons that apply to my nonprofit career: Continue reading