A lifetime ago, I was a race director. Well, it wasn’t a lifetime, but it sure feels like a lifetime ago. Instead, it was closer to a decade ago. So, a decade ago, I was a race director for a national non-profit. That year, our small organization grew the race series, grew our exposure, and we raised almost $900,000. I had no direct- reports, so I was responsible for most of the planning and most of the execution. It was overwhelming, and I could not handle the workload. Based on the number of races, the number of participants, and the dollars we were raising, a staff of four could have handled the job. However, being a good non-profit and keeping expenses low so more dollars could support service members, their families, and families of the fallen, it was a one-woman-show. Fortunately, people from other departments, other race directors, and our vendors helped me through the year. I did not return for the next year’s race series, and I have no regrets.
As challenging as it was, it was also one of the greatest learning experiences of my life. I learned a lot about myself. I learned a lot about other people. I found people who I could truly count on, and I figured out the people who were helpful in other areas of my life – just not this one. After leaving the position, I vowed to never help with event planning again, and it took many years before I would consider helping with events.
Fast forward to my time on Okinawa…
Okinawa has been another challenge for me. Where the race director role allowed me to feel valued and that I was making an impact, for the most part, my time on Okinawa has been the opposite. As wonderful as the island is, I never really found my “place” there. I need growth, and I need service & contribution. I need to feel like I am making an impact, and I need to feel like I am making progress. Unfortunately, I have made very little progress over the past 4 1/2 years. Looking back, I could have pursued things that may have helped me find my purpose, but for the most part, I have just been stuck. The thing about being stuck is that even if you know what you should do, actually doing it seems impossible.
I have a few months left on the island, and I want to leave the island feeling like I did something of value there. Wasting five years of my life is too much for my soul to handle.
The Okinawa Leadership Seminar is an organization that I have supported in a few capacities over the past few years. I have done the back-office administration support. I have been a small-group facilitator. I have recruited other facilitators. I have done curriculum development and identified speakers. Currently, I am involved with fundraising. https://www.okinawaleadershipseminar.org/
Fundraising is a unique challenge. Some people love it. Some people hate it. I actually like it. I am not highly creative, so I found myself “doing what we have always done.” As I was going through the motions of “doing what we have always done,” I found myself feeling stuck again. UGH. Once again, I wanted to blame the restrictions and constraints of the island on this feeling. I had two choices – feel stuck and frustrated, or I could figure something else out.
I went back to what I know. I know races. Now, I knew that I didn’t want to host a “live” race, but I figured I could host a virtual race. The virtual race would allow the OLS alumni the opportunity to participate, and our reach would be much bigger if we offered it virtually. My favorite thing about the organization is that we have almost no barriers to entry which means any military spouse on the island can participate in the seminar. Having a virtual race would take down some of the “racing barriers.” I could create an event that would not be confined to the island. ANYONE could participate.
The next step would be to find a person or organization who could “host” the race, and it needed to be one that would donate ALL of the PROCEEDS to OLS. My younger sister has a heart of gold, and she stepped up to the plate with almost no questions asked. She simply asked what she could do to help, and she is the key to the success of our virtual 5k fundraiser.
She is an expert in so many ways, and she is the perfect person to help us reach our goals. She has a solid base of clients. She is an expert at social media. She organizes and handles numbers and spreadsheets unlike anyone I have ever seen. She knows processes, and she created a process for registration. She is used to shipping large quantities of products, so I anticipate that she will do great with shipping our medals. I love that she is helping me because selfishly, I know it gives us the opportunity to spend time together.
My hope is that she finds it fulfilling. I hope she gets some new clients. I hope she knows that she is making a tremendous impact.
Maybe if we meet our fundraising goal, I can leave the island feeling like I did something of value for a small non-profit. Maybe by creating a new fundraising plan, I will feel like I helped implement something of significance. Maybe through the process, I’ll feel like I made a little progress, and maybe that will be enough to help me feel like I’m getting unstuck, and maybe that will feel good.
If you are interested in supporting our organization, and you wish to walk or run or shuffle or skip or do any combination to reach a goal of 5k, please consider joining us as we ALL participate in this together. https://www.facebook.com/groups/1465317460307812/permalink/2162031150636436/?mibextid=W9rl1R