Friday, April 24, 2009

Eradicating Malaria With the Tony Blair Faith Foundation

Hello web-friends,

I have been appointed to my dream job and I need your help to make it rock.

I have been selected to join the Faiths Act Fellows, a cadre of 30 young interfaith leaders in the US, UK, and Canada who will spend August 2009-June 2010 working to promote malaria eradication. This is a brand-new program which will operate under the auspices of the Tony Blair Faith Foundation (yes, THAT Tony Blair) and the Interfaith Youth Core. It's all fantastically exciting! I'll be traveling to London at the end of July (farewell, Denver) for induction and training. Then it's off to a malaria hotspot in Africa for on-the-ground work. We finish with training in Chicago. I report for duty to the Islamic Networks Group in San Jose, CA on October 1st. My job will be recruiting faith communities, and especially young people of faith, to work towards malaria eradication. Getting rid of this wicked mosquito-borne sickness can be done!

It goes without saying that I will utilize the fluid world of social media in order to reach these goals. I blog, tweet, and share most things, so this will be no different. I will be relying on my network (all of you) to help me spread the word and find kinds of people who can partner with me to get things done.

I'm short on the finer points and details, and for that I apologize. As a first order of business, I need to know ANYTHING about San Jose. My first ever trip to California is this Saturday when I attend the Nonprofit Technology Conference, so any advice/thoughts are welcome.

Post what you will, and send this one far and wide - the more, the merrier!

, , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Leadership vs. Leading

In most of the projects that I've been involved with, I've found that there are often severe gulfs between what I would call "being a leader" and "leadership as such." We've all been on both sides of this divide: we either are leaders or we are led by them. Here are a few of the distinctions that I've seen when I've had to fill a leadership role:

1. Leadership as such - In this case, we'll say that I've undertaken a large project. I am leading a team of folks (usually students like myself). During our meetings, I provide lots of good ideas and excitement. I can bring experience and networking. I delegate and decide and draw up plans for the team. At the end of our meetings, we go through our to-do lists and run out the door shouting our enthusiasm.

And no one does anything. The to-do lists do not get fulfilled. Meetings don't get scheduled. Forms aren't filed. I fail - I fail the team.

Now let's see the other side:

2. Being a leader - My group and I have undertaken a large project. Although I am leading the group, my real job is simply to steer our collective energy. We bounce around ideas to all groups members. We make lists and figure out where our individual strengths reside. We draw on all of our talents to construct a big-picture that we can move on as a unit. At the end of the meeting, we know what we have to do.

And it all gets done, and done well. Things come together because the team as a team has congealed. Who the leader is doesn't matter. What the team has done matters. If things don't turn out well, it's the team as a whole that needs to change something. We can learn.

It has taken me a long list of small failures to realize these things, but it's important to remember that true leaders don't so much point and command as empower and support.

Flickr photo courtesy of Dunechaser.

, ,

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Those Strange Happy Days (selfish post)

And there are mornings when, sitting in my chair by the window reading, in this case, an intellectual history of the birth of modern sociology, I'll set my book down, take a sip of warm tea and breathe deeply (usually nag champa fumes) - everything goes crystalline.

I've often wondered if it's some strange combination of "upper" hormones and sunlight, or if the post-rock Icelandic crooning that I'm listening to is somehow changing the way my mind orders priorities. In doing so, I've found that I don't really care how it happens, how I can have these moments of stunningly happy clarity and sense of purpose. I do know that as I stand here typing this post, it takes every fiber of my being to not shout with joy and run outside toward the sun.

There's nothing in my existence that suggests I lead anything less than a charmed life, and while there is always a part of me that says, "Stop talking so much about how happy you are!" the fact remains: Every day is an explosion.

Whew. I've got great friends, great family, pets (they live 900 miles away, sadly), my health, plenty of tea, and an overwhelming, perhaps uncomfortably, optimistic future-view.

I'm riding a smile-boat on an ocean of unicorns and stardust, and doing what I can to bring that feeling to those around me. Keep up the good work, everybody. We're all in this together.

, , , ,