What is the right dosage of our organization’s mission to achieve optimal impact? How do we quantify meaningful connections to gain the full benefits of our programs? Who are our super users, just right visitors, and not enough group?
My family has been visiting college campuses this year. I have been fascinated by how each university prioritizes their introductory itinerary for prospective students. All sessions start with an orientation that involves a digital presentation. Afterward, student-led campus tours are the norm. However, a number of colleges do not include a visit to a single academic building on their prescribed route. Recreation centers, student unions, residential halls, dining options, historic buildings, athletic stadiums, and central outdoor spaces all make the must-see list. Only two universities had us sit down at desks in a classroom to discuss academic life, student-teacher ratios, and curriculum tracks. Each university makes an assumption about what is going to resonate with prospective students. They calculate the right dosage of show-and-tell to capture the essence of their institution.
This past weekend, I took my son to a snowy football game at my alma mater. Attending a football game might add the right dosage of the college experience to help him decide for or against the college (even when the student body was on Thanksgiving Break). My students’ decision will be based on where they can see themselves thrive. The university that provides the right dosage that resonates with their individual preferences.
You never know what we might discover when we seek out new experiences and interactions. Staying curious is one of our greatest traits.
Not every boarding pass gets us on a plane. We take for granted that a rectangular piece of paper with an airline logo printed in the corner allows us to board. What assumptions once re-examined might be transformative? How often do we pause in the middle of everyday activities to consider all that operate smoothly for us to advance without complication? One warning light can delay a flight for hours, even when the non-cooperating part appears to be less than vital. What is essential for your journey? Who have we taken for granted?
Thirty degrees at 7 PM and snow appears on the roadside as I near Bogus Basin Ski Area. I have been riding uphill for 14 miles and not spied another cyclist, which is remarkable because there is always another velo enthusiast on this route. A vest, rain jacket, long fingered gloves, and cycling cap rest in my jersey pocket, ready to add micro-layers of protection during the thirty-minute descent. There is no official turn-around point on this ride. Temperature and road conditions are the guiding parameters. Finally, I encounter sheets of water running across the road and decide I do not need to be wet and cold, and the ascent stops and the return to the valley floor begins.
I have traveled this route over one hundred times by bike. Tonight’s effort stood out because I was alone and the temperature. It joined hallmark memories, like the thunderstorm that pounced so quickly that I turned around one-minute from the summit, afraid for my safety and without disappointment that I had not reached the top. Or, the time I loaned my jacket to a freezing cyclist from Arizona who rode up the mountain unprepared for Idaho’s fall weather. Then there was the cow that stood in the road on a blind corner. On the descent, I missed striking this oblivious bovine because I decided to try a different high-speed line around the corner.
The moments on edge are the ones that stand out. The ascents and descents that fall somewhere in the range of normal are forgotten, even when recorded in a training log. Our own edge provides a conduit into an inner conversation about what we value and believe.
Today, what opportunities do we have to visit our edge?
If the plan were certain then there is no need for the journey. Every round of golf starts with a scripted course of action. The prefered route is laid out on a map. Yet most rounds of golf do not go as planned. We must adapt and find our own route. Afterward, what gives the stories we tell character and color is the way we overcame those obstacles. If a round of golf cannot follow the script, why do we think our three and five-year plans are going to stay on course? Planning is powerful. Wayfinding, once we begin, is essential otherwise the plan does not match reality.
What if we followed-up with those who contacted us about supporting our mission? Even if we are oversubscribed, overworked, and under deadline. It does not take much to keep people who care involved with our enterprise. Equally, it is just as easy to lock them out and wonder why they drift away.
If the goal is clear, the route remains flexible. The goal, gain 1,000 meters of elevation. The first day it took 50 kilometers of cross-country skate skiing. The next morning the milestone arrived in 4 kilometers using backcountry skis to ascend to the top of a ski resort. If we see one option to achieve our goals, then we miss the adventure. Wayfinding is how we solve big questions and reach big goals.