Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Comparison and Inspiration

"Yard-sticking", or comparing yourself to your peers is an extremely easy thing to do.  
"He is such a stronger climber than I am.... 
She is so much prettier than me.... 
Wow, look at his credentials, he's so much more qualified for the position.... 
I could never make my macaroons taste better than hers..."
I was trying to kill off the last hour of my 9-5 by catching up on my latest edition of Forbes online. As I flipped through the electronic pages, an article on the Summit boys showed up. This was twice in the last month that the founders of Summit Series had an article devoted to their accomplishments and future endeavors.

I first heard of Summit via Outside magazine. The article revolved around the recent philanthropic purchase of a mountain. Yes, a mountain. Please take the time to read the full story here. Is worth your time I promise.

Done reading? Awesome.

These four founders went out and purchased a the 10,000 acre Powder Mountain to take philanthropy and creative brainstorming to the next level. My jaw dropped as I initially skimmed through the article. I could feel this sense of lust for their success as my body seared with a dull ache at the thought that I could someday become large enough professionally to get to Powder Mountain and attend their conference.

"I'm a do-gooder! I want to change the world! Pick me! Pick me!" 

The latest Forbes article (find here) refers to Summit's Powder Mountain as "Endeavor Camp"; The home of the next wave of innovation. That has a nice ring to it, doesn't it? The article touches on the idea that these four twentysomethings raised enough to create the Summit Series conference while their peers are working to scrape up enough dough to buy their first home (or hell, even their first apartment).

I'm one of those peers. 3 years deep in the non-profit field, just shy of twenty-five, experiencing the daily balance of financial stability and sense of adventure. I couldn't help but compare myself to these Summit guys. If this was a game, they were TOTALLY winning.

After reading the Forbes article, I logged on and readdressed both my twitter and online non-profit groups by adding more forward-thinking companies and following more of my peers. I then signed up for the 2013 Community Leadership Conference in Portland, and brushed up on the projected trends of fundraising in 2013. 

By this point it was way past 5:00 yet I remained in my work chair and took the extra time to reflect on how I personally help move my own community forward. Honestly, I do a lot. I volunteer, I serve on committees, I work for a 501(c)(3), I give to numerous organizations that I believe in, I participate in online discussions about my field, attend conferences, and I often encourage others to serve on boards of their own interests and push their own communities forward. Maybe you're in the writing community--take the time to edit others' work, or tutor a kid who's having a hard time in English class. Maybe you're in the nerdy-nature community--lead a hiking group! Teach people how deeply rooted the love for nature really is. Move someone else forward.

My mind was gone; brainstorming various creative ways that I could bring in those extra dollars at work so that I could help more students. It was then that I realized that I wasn't comparing myself to the Summit Series founders because I was envious of them; in fact, I was inspired by them. 

I suppose that inspiration can be seen as a form of positive comparison. Something you work to be compared to, to be associated with; held to their high standards and levels of respect. 

I may never get to that mountain in Ogden, Utah, but look at what I've accomplished even in these last few hours through reflections on learning about more of my peers that I believe have already "made it". 

As a community we lead and positively compare and inspire others. It is through our actions and mentality that we can help one another get to the higher levels of  achievement.

Hats off you guys. Cheers.

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