Wednesday, January 7, 2009

My Joy of Joy

I am doing it again!

After eight incredible years at Joy Outdoor Education Center, Clarksville, Ohio, as Venture Out Director, I am leaving to begin a new position at Montreat College, Montreat, NC. People have asked, “Why would you leave a dream job?” or have commented, “I could never do that!” Perhaps e.e. cummings and Lord Byron said it best:

It takes great courage to grow up and turn out to be who you really are.
e.e. cummings

The biggest risk in life, is to take no risk at all. Lord Byron

I came to Joy realizing I was not living my passion in my previous work. My father modeled the way for me when he left corporate America in his early forties to go into business for himself because he realized he was not living his passion. The roots run deep and the apple has not fallen far from the tree. I can leave Joy knowing I made a difference and have left Joy in better condition than when I found it. Unfortunately, the current economic climate has caused Joy and Venture Out some pain, but there are creative, innovative and resourceful people who will build upon Venture Out’s success.

We only give up what does not own us. Anonymous

What am I taking away from Joy?

I am taking away a better, more informed understanding of leadership and its importance. I had some incredible leadership teachers including Steve Coats and Steve Houchin from International Leadership Associates, Tom Heuer from Fifth Third Bank and Scott Steel from Cincinnati Children’s Hospital and Medical Center as well as the Joy staff and the many participants who came through over a 1,000 programs I was connected with through Venture Out. I learned to practice leadership as an act not a role. Leadership is about relationships and serving. Leadership is about creating nurturing communities in which people feel valued and can grow. Leadership is about vision and creating possibilities where others see or think none exist. Leadership is about battling the phantom rules or the little voice in the head that says, “You can’t do that,” “That’s impossible,” or “What will other’s think especially if you fail or look foolish?”

Don’t believe everything you think. Thomas Kida

Few people learn from success, but there is often much to learn from failure. Steven Miller

Leadership is about change. Being a leader means to be a change agent and to get out of one’s comfort zone. Leadership is about being humble, admitting when you made a mistake rather than always needing to be right. Great leadership has a powerful paradox, great follower-ship. Great leaders know their strengths, recognize their weaknesses and allow others to lead in their areas of strength.

If you don’t like change, you are going to like irrelevance even less. General Shinseki

Children see the sand. Adults see the box. Steve Coats

I also learned much about trust. My two favorite questions to ask participants during a trust learning lab, “Are you trustworthy?” “How do you know?” Trust is at the core of every relationship. Trust is what is missing in today’s economy and with the people leading us. Trust is a priority needing to be restored NOW! When trust is high, fear is low. If we want to eliminate fear, trust must take firm root. It’s not enough that our money has printed, “In God we trust,” we must relearn to trust each other. We each must personally craft a vision as well as we must help our organizations and our country craft an inspiring vision. Martin Luther King demonstrated best in his “I Have a Dream” speech. We must trust our vision.

Trust is the ultimate value upon which to build a stable way of life. Dick Capen

Trust is the most significant predictor of individual’s satisfaction with organizations.
Kouzes and Posner, The Leadership Challenge

Where there is no vision, people perish. Proverbs 29:18

I have also learned that at times I take myself too seriously. Life is already too serious! I learned to laugh and play more. Lynn Watts and Amy Thompson were two who had infectious smiles and laughs that made work at Joy a true Joy. A fun workplace should not be an oxymoron! I also learned not to worry about being right. It is far more important to seek to understand before being understood as St. Francis so eloquently prayed.

Men build too many walls and not enough bridges.
Sir Isaac Newton

There are so many interesting ways to be than right. Robert Rauschenberg

The deepest need of the human heart is to be understood. Sean Covey

What am I leaving Joy?

I am leaving Joy and Venture Out! a better sense of knowing what value they can add to people's lives and to corporate teams. When you know your value and people acknowledge the value you deliver, you are well compensated emotionally and financially. Venture Out! has a much better business model and can make a more significant contribution to the Joy community.

I leave behind an incredible adjunct staff who became one of the most important groups in my life. Creative, thoughtful, hard-working, true believers of the Joy mission, keepers of the Joy values, dynamic servant leaders... are just a few of the many adjectives that describe this group. This group meets roughly five to six times a year on a Saturday to share, connect, support, learn and advise. Those Saturday's are rich. I always came away well fed! I will miss those gatherings!

I thank all the incredible people, too numerous to mention, who touched my life while at Joy. My work at Joy exceeded all my expectations and has enabled me to continue this work in a new setting.

I begin a new adventure in my life’s journey with a very willing partner, my wife. We look forward to new scenery, different lifestyle, a bit warmer weather, a closer drive to the ocean and lots of opportunities to carry on a ministry of helping people to be their best and live life out loud!

Carrpe Diem!

David Carr

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