Thursday, March 14, 2013

I Choose Consciously

How do you decide what to eat day to day? Week to week?

Over the past few years, I have come to realize, in a very deep way, that my food choices are directly related to my personal sense of well being.

Eleven years ago I lost over 200 pounds. As I did this, I had to make a choice to have a whole new relationship with food. I came to clear understanding that food was my way to show myself a loving attitude several times a day. 

I began to realize that each and every time I put food into my mouth, I had a chance to say I love YOU, Florence. I had always seen that chance when I cooked for others, yet making that choice for myself became a radical way for me to re-shape my relationship with food.

Today, I choose wisely. I know that when I decide to eat something I know my body loves, like garlic spinach, I will feel good physically, emotionally, intellectually and most important to me, spiritually. I love food and now that my food loves me.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Saying YES & NO with Respect

Prudent Decisions are REAL, HARD and DEMAND Respectful Explanations. Often many people are involved and affected by a decision, so taking the time to share the decision making process is required.

It is with confidence that Character Counts! in Jacksonville makes this really hard decision to pull out of One Spark. After considering the costs and the massive shift of focus necessary to make it happen, as we work to launch Conscious Eats, we have come to the conclusion that we must step away. The costs associated with making it happen are better served to ensure we are able to pay the salary of our new employee for a few additional weeks. Our recent fundraiser raised enough money for six months of salary. Every additional week we can source funds for his employment, is a step closer to launching our social enterprise. Every cent we have matters. 

Many have tried to talk us out of this decision, while others fully see the reasoning. I have personally worried about what would people think about us as we step away. Are they unfocused?  How can they not see the potential? ...etc. We are willing for people to think those things about us. That is their choice. I know we have vetted this conversation with my board members. We have done the financial analysis and discussed it with several wise business leaders. This is the right, hard decision to walk away from something that is very fun, exciting and risky all at the same time. 
As I have grown in this role as a social enterprise leader, I have had to learn how to say NO and YES to the RIGHT things. We believe in the work of One Spark and know the spirit of the effort is amazing. At this moment in time, we have had to see where we are in our business launch and look to the launch strategy of the and the Mission of our organization: To EMPLOY ex-felons. This decision supports that core idea, at a very simple and clear level, right NOW.

We thank the One Spark team for all the conversations we have had about the power of focus, the power of collaboration...etc. We have been inspired by them greatly and ironically it is those conversations that led us to re-camp and get VERY focused and intentional.

Several years ago, I did a consulting project with Harbinger Sign. We were working to create the transition strategy, as founder, Roger Williams was planning his retirement. During a session he very proudly stated, "We have NEVER missed a payroll."  The face of his son, Steve Williams, glowed with pride, as he realized the impact of his dad's legacy.

It is that wisdom that has fueled our decision to step away and ensure that the commitment we have made to our amazing new employee is honored. We thank the team, Elton Rivas, Varick Rosete, Dennis Eusebio, Vince Cavin and the rest of the amazing posse for all they are doing to make our city rock! We wish you all the greatest of luck...we will participate in the way we can by supporting others.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Dreams DO become Reality - with commitment!

Today a dream is becoming a reality for Character Counts! in Jacksonville.

We are launching a youth forum in collaboration with The Self Movement. The primary goal of the forum is to teach high school students the skill of collaboration. 

We are partnering with Duval County Public Schools to create a youth forum that will initially teach collaboration skills but ultimately look to our youth to help solve some of the challenges we face as a community. 

The kickoff today is the "Beta" test. The forum is intentionally designed to give voice to the students. We have created the day with a huge amount of trust in the belief that our students are capable of great thinking. The structure of the three hour session is intentionally loose and open to see where the students curiosity and intelligence will lead us.

Bill Bade, the Executive Director of The Self Movement, the brains behind the idea, invited CCINJAX to the table to ensure the forum was grounded in character and ethics. We will explore the Six Pillars of Character at the opening of the session and will use them as the basis of how we come together as a forum.

The problem we are asking the students to solve this morning is to create a scholarship fund process. The Self Movement is bringing a chunk of money to the table that the students will help decide how the money is granted to one or several DCPS students. 

This highly unique approach is potentially risky, yet we have faith in the process of collaboration. We are resting in our capacity to create an environment that is based on the 6 Pillars, trustworthiness, respect, responsibility, fairness, caring and citizenship. 

So why are we saying this is a dream come true today? Well, two years ago when I came to the world of Character Counts, I pulled together such a forum. I had never run a non-profit and knew that my sphere of influence could advise me. We gathered together in a very similar fashion and brainstormed where Character Counts needed to go. 

We spoke about creating a sustainable organization that brought the conversation of character and ethics across our community in creative and engaging ways. We set the goal that we would be "invited" into the schools. We believed that by virtue of being invited, it would create a more meaningful and potentially lasting relationship. 

Today is the result of a great deal of hard work to foster meaningful relationships with like minded individuals and organizations across our community. We are blessed to have the chance to partner with Bill and his team and look forward to meaningful experiences with the bright minds of our community!

We will keep you up to date on the results and will work to engage more of you in this collaboration as it evolves.