There is one summer – above all other times in my life – that I go back to with frequency. That summer, I learned so much about my strengths. That summer, I learned so much about my resiliency. That summer, I learned so much about how to change the world…
It was four years ago, and I was driven to make a difference. Like everything I’d ever done before, I was inspired to create something I wished someone had created for me: a festival celebrating the uniqueness of a hidden community in my city. I had recently joined this community, and I wanted more people like me – the lost individuals trying to find someone who understood – to know that it existed. Plus, I wanted us to be proud of who we were, rather than having us focus on coping mechanisms for being “different” and a “burden” to the people around us. For the first time in a long time, my community was the place where I felt truly accepted, respected, and listened to. We needed to share those feelings with everybody!
And I did! Without any experience in project management, event-planning, or volunteer coordination, I created a festival for the vegan and vegetarian community of Edmonton. And I gained a ton of tools for my tool box in the process!
With my packed tool box, an amazing sea change occurred in my life. I was offered a leadership position in a burgeoning vegetarian-friendly corporation, I made some amazing friends and met many more influential people in my community, and I began my first speaking engagements, introducing the festival to many more new community members.
The festival lasted a month. A lot of that month went by in such a blur that I have trouble recalling everything that we achieved. What I do know is that it was a success. It brought a lot of attention to our little non-profit group, and everybody involved learned something more about event-planning, volunteer orientation, and community-building. What a success!
We never celebrated that success. Our wrap-up party was weeks later, and combined with a regular monthly event. We should have had a separate event. Even a small group meeting where we discussed what we had learned and what had been the most successful part would have been a major asset to the festival and our developing skill sets. Instead, our month of celebration just fizzled out…
Through The Art & Science of Coaching training, I learned about the four stages of any life project. There is Inspiration, Implementation, Value Integration, and Celebration. Each aspect is important in personal growth and development; however, often times we only assign value to the first two stages: inspiration and implementation. Did you realize a solution? Did you follow through on your solution? Great, next project. That was definitely what I did with organizing my first festival.
When we move into the last two stages, though, transformation occurs. What value did this project add to your life? For my project, I gained more confidence, determination, resiliency, a new skill set, and a passion for creating community. I didn’t recognize those things at the time, but each time I think back to “that summer,” these new values scream out at me as to why “that summer” was so powerful.
What about the fourth stage: Celebration?
Marilyn Atkinson, the founder of Erickson International, where I took my coach training, defines this stage as “Completion and Satisfaction.” In her book, Inner Dynamics of Coaching, Atkinson writes that “(w)hen you redefine the word completion to mean ‘having learned something of value,’ you easily allow yourself to acknowledge what you have done.” She continues, “(w)hen you have learned what you needed or wanted to learn, your energy becomes joyful and inspires you to play the game again, perhaps in a bigger, bolder way.”
Did I do any of that with my festival? No. Not until I started being coached. In my coaching sessions, I started realizing how much that summer strengthened me. I worked through the value of going through it, and acknowledged everything that I had learned during the process:
“Woohoo! I did it. The festival was a success! I learned how to get the license to show documentaries. I used social media to create a celebratory movement of Edmonton’s vegetarians and vegans. I promoted the solutions that exist in our city, rather than getting stuck in what needed to change – and now Edmonton continues to explode with vegan-preneurs! I use this new skill set in each new project I undertake: from empowering staff to launching my own company. I have a deeper understanding of what is needed to get people out to events, and my future projects will be even better!”
Now, it’s your turn. What project have you completed that needs celebrating? What have you learned during the project? Now that you have done this, how can you make it even bigger and better next time? Share below.