04 Mar CAUSE & EFFECT: Go Slow to Go Fast
The first cup of my vacation coffee was bitter and full of grounds. As my family planned a week of high adventure, going as fast as they could down mountains, I had a different agenda in mind.
At home I fully enjoy the fast pace of my work life at the Southwest Florida Community Foundation and try to stay non-risk adverse and adventurous.
But nestled into my week-long retreat, my goal was slow things down- way down.
That initial cup of coffee was made not with a pod style coffee maker, but a French Press. I had never used this method of brewing, as it always seemed to require too many steps as I was running out the door to take on the day. The amazing pace of technology has improved our lives and society in many ways, from a simple cup of coffee on demand to life changing medical advances and electric cars.
I climbed out of bed before anyone else, determined to make a hearty breakfast suited for adventurers and watched a YouTube video on the art of the French Press. I figured the combination of tech at my fingertips and the human touch was the best bet for success.
My first few pots first were less than stellar, as I found myself rushing and skipping a few steps. My husband choked down the inaugural mug and I told him to stick with me as I was committed to mastery.
I kept the lovely little pot out on the counter the entire week even when not in use to remind me of going slow. I meditated, read books, unplugged from screens other than an occasional check in, took walks to nowhere, visited art galleries and put mascara on both my top and bottom lashes everyday in front of a mirror that was not the rear view in the car.
My family continually asked if I was bored or lonely. Yes, sometimes I was but that was ok too. Just being comfortable with loneliness and boredom seemed like part of the journey. It gave me the opportunity to plan, think and consider things before jumping right in. I reminded myself that to get any kind of running start, you first must back up slowly.
Prior to the year 2000 Facebook, iPhone, Twitter, Wikipedia and Skype did not even exist. Because life moves so fast we have come to expect community change to happen at the same pace. I work with a group of change-makers everyday who feel a sense of urgency to make Southwest Florida and our world a better place and we run the risk of moving at the speed of technology and losing the human side of decision making that is critically important in philanthropy. We also lose sight that we are not investing in non-profits and social enterprise at the same levels as tech start-ups.
Donors and advocates who are retired from their professional careers often tell me they want to make a significant impact on the lives of others before their time on earth is over and feel a sense of responsibility to their children, grandchildren and the next generation to move quickly. Non-profit leaders and volunteers see the issues first hand and want to respond to ease hardships and suffering.
At the Foundation we work hard at creating the space, time, resources and support systems that are required for these dedicated, generous Southwest Floridans to create the change they seek at a pace that works for sustainable results. We allow nonprofits to test and pilot projects before they go to scale, offer trainings to build capacity in organizations, invest in overhead expenses and embrace failure when necessary.
Of course, when there is a disaster or community emergency we immediately spring into action but equally important is taking the time to collect the right data, insights, partners, funding and accountability before moving ahead. The process may seem slow at first but delivers rapid results in the end.
When big, transformational change happens, often we see the results but not all the steps needed to get there. Much like a great cup of coffee from a French Press, it is worth the wait.
The Southwest Florida Community Foundation, founded in 1976, cultivates regional change for the common good through collective leadership, social innovation and philanthropy to address the evolving community needs in Lee, Collier, Charlotte, Hendry and Glades counties. The Foundation partners with individuals, families and corporations who have created more than 400 philanthropic funds. Thanks to them, the Foundation invested $6.8 million in grants and programs to the community. With assets of more than $126 million, it has provided $78.2 million in grants and scholarships to the communities it serves since inception. The Foundation is the backbone organization for the regional FutureMakers Coalition and Lee County’s Sustainability Plan. The Southwest Florida Community Foundation’s regional headquarters are now located in the historic ACL Train Depot at Collaboratory in downtown Fort Myers, with a satellite office located in LaBelle (Hendry County). For more information, call 239-274-5900 or visit www.floridacommunity.com.