Sunday, January 16, 2011

The Power of Ideas

PHOTO CAPTION: "Photo Courtesy"

I am a creative person. What I mean by that is that I like to cast vision and dream about the future. In my job I get to create programs, curriculum, plan workshops, and outreaches that bring awareness to important topics such as domestic violence, sexual assault and peace.

I am given the room to dream and come up with ideas that contribute to making our community a better place. I am so fortunate to be working in an environment where I am encouraged, supported and allowed to cast vision. It is a gift.

Dealing With Negativity
Yet, this is not always the case for people. In the past I have been in environments where my ideas where not considered or heard and maybe even shot down. I remember feeling deflated. It is an awful place to be.

"Negative environments kill thousands of great ideas every minute," writes John P. Maxwell in the book How Successful People Think.

And Charlie Brower says, "A new idea is delicate. It can be killed by a sneer or yawn; it can be stabbed to death by a frown on the right man's brow."

I have found this to be very true. When I get disapproval in any form, keeping my idea alive is a struggle and seems like an uphill battle. I have to recall the times that I have had ideas and they have worked. I also have to remind myself that what others think is not always necessarily right. I can't allow others views and perspectives to define my life. It is good to consider what others say and the reason why they think an idea may not prosper but balancing that with your experience, your resources and your gut feeling is essential.

Sticking With Your Ideas
How many people have been discouraged by someone and still found a way to make their dream come true? How many people have given up?

I recall a time when I presented an idea to a team of people and they did not think it was a good use of our time and resources. It was tough to hear. But what I did was find other people who did believe in what I was doing and work with them.

Together this team of people put together a Hunger Awareness Week at San Jose State University in August of 1999. The team consisted of three Christian clubs on campus and San Jose Christian College. We had students take shifts manning a table from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. where people could give donations to World Vision and help the refugees in Kosovo. World Vision was distributing flour, yeast, oil, canned meat and hygiene supplies twice a week in Ulcinj, Rozaje and Podgorica. In Albania, World Vision was dispersing donated blankets, clothing and food to some of the 80,000 refugees amassed in Kukes.

On one of the days we had the Campus Crusade for Christ band perform and followed that up with a talk on the Kosovo situation. On another day we had someone on staff with World Vision come out and talk about the situation in Kosovo and the work that World Vision was doing. In the end we raised close to $1,000 and created more awareness on the campus about the situation in Kosovo and hunger and starvation in the world.

The Power of Affirmation
I remember questioning my idea and the project all the way to the end of the week. It wasn't until the World Vision speaker said, "This was a great idea. I am really proud of you for doing this" that I felt validated and proud of the effort.

That affirming word spoke to the depths of my heart. I knew that I could follow my heart and good things would come from it. I think back on this time in my life and think about how I was so close to not doing anything because of what some people said. I am so glad that I didn't let that idea die. A few months later San Jose State University gave us an award for creating more awareness on campus.

I hope that we can create environments where we build others up and help others ideas and dreams flourish so that they can better our world.


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