“Working hard for something we don't care about is called stress. Working hard for something we love is called passion.”
― Simon Sinek
What would you do if you knew you wouldn't fail? It’s been almost two years since we started The Will King Foundation. It feels like forever and yesterday all at the same time. I didn't have the tools, experience or education to start a non-profit, but my "why" was big enough to keep us going. I took advice from Emily P. Freeman (and apparently Princess Ana) and just did the next right thing. I have run into some roadblocks along the way, but the thing about blocks is that they can be knocked down. Sometimes the blocks were wobbly and easy to push over. Other times they were strong and seemed impossible to move. I’m sharing a few of the lessons I’ve learned over these past two years in hopes of encouraging someone else out there who has a dream in their heart and needs to find the courage to start or a gentle push (or shove) to keep going.
PS - don't miss the free download at the end of the post!
1. You will feel insecure and incompetent. I have had to learn everything. Everything. How to create a website, how to craft a mission statement, the difference between a mission and vision, how to use social media to share our mission, how to fundraise, how to have meaningful relationships with donors, how to set up an email list, how to find sponsors for an event, how to find the right people to plan said event, how to communicate our why, the list literally goes on. Most of the time I have felt so stupid, really really frustrated and like the eyes of the world was watching me to see if I had the ability to learn the next right thing or if I would fail. I have walked into many meetings where I was the one with the least experience, least knowledge and least understanding of what was going on. I have asked a lot of questions. Many of those questions have made me feel incompetent and asking them makes me so insecure. For all my fellow Enneagram lovers, come down this rabbit trail with me for just a minute. I am a three on the Enneagram, also know as the performer or achiever. Threes are driven by feeling successful and admired. They are highly productive, highly motivated people with lots of energy but their pit fall is vanity. Us threes are the people pleasers of all people pleasers and we care a whole lot about what other people think of us. Feeling incompetent or unsuccessful is a three’s worst nightmare. See where I’m going with this? If you are starting something new and unknown you have to be okay with being dumb. That doesn’t mean you have to stay dumb, in fact you defiantly shouldn’t, but you have to get comfortable with the feeling of incompetence because if you are continuing to grow and learn, I’m guessing it will be with you for a long long time. I have resolved that this feeling of insecurity is sticking around and I have shifted my mindset to view it as assurance that I am growing and getting better.
2. You will succeed if you are willing to be the one who refuses to stop. How many times have you started a diet or a workout plan, a devotional book or anything that requires consistency and just stop when it gets a little bit hard. How easily do you give up when there’s the tiniest bit of tension, a little setback or even a massive, catastrophic mistake? If you care about something enough, you have to refuse to give up, regardless of the setbacks, disappointments and difficulties. I would bet money that if you ask any successful person how they got to where they are, they would tell you that they simply refused to give up. Make persistence your number one quality.
3. You need to surround yourself with people who are smarter, better and more experienced than you. The moment you find that you are the most experienced or the most knowledgable in the room, find a new room! When I don’t know how to do something, which is most of the time, I find someone who does. One of my very best friends is an expert in non-profits and she has a passion for helping new non-profits establish their mission, define their goals and make a plan to reach them. I ask her literally everything. There has not been one big decision, idea or major change that hasn’t gone by her first. When it was time to get a team together to plan our first fundraising event I thought about which of my friends had the skills that I didn’t. I found someone who knew everything about non-profit marketing and fundraising. Someone with experience chairing fundraising events similar to the one we were hosting. Someone who was creative with an eye for design and event planning. If you are starting something new never ever be the smartest one in the room. Surround yourself with people who know way more than you and humbly seek their guidance and advice.
4. No one cares as much as you do. NO ONE. I am blessed. I have an amazing community who truly, deeply cares about The Will King Foundation. I have friends who are passionate and have devoted hours upon hours and continue to support me and us and the foundation with everything in them. They don’t care about it as much as I do. And guess what I learned the hard way - I cannot expect them to. The Will King Foundation will never be as personal to anyone as it is to me. Not to my family, not to my closest friends. I am Will’s mom, this is the path my little boy set us on, I chose to walk down it, not stopping. I care the most and I always will. And that is OKAY! If you are beginning anything for the first time and it’s something you are deeply passionate about then don’t expect anyone to bring as much energy and enthusiasm to it as you do. No matter how deeply anyone is invested they are not you. Get those people around you but don’t ever put pressure on them to give themselves to your new venture like you have. Don’t put expectations on others to care as much as you do and everyone will own your new mission in their own way, at their own level, with their own heart.
5. It’s okay to go slow. UGH! I hate this one because enneagram three (see #1). Threes are goal getters. When I have a goal I want to see it reached, crushed actually. I can see the whole vision for the Will King Foundation, one that involves international reach and thousands of children being impacted and lives being changed all over the world. I can see it so clearly, every detail of how it will happen and what it will be like but it doesn’t have to happen today. Or even tomorrow. I want to make big goals and reach them fast and if you do that then that’s great (and I’m honestly jealous) but it’s okay to build slowly, maybe even better. It took over a year for us to have a mission statement that I feel happy about. We are planning a big goal right now that we have put a three year timeline on. THREE YEARS, ugh, might as well tell me it’s never going to happen. I’m learning that it’s okay to take your time. It takes time to think through things, come up with a solid, effective plan and get others on board with your vision. Relentless forward progress. I would rather take a little more time getting people invested in our mission than accomplishing everything at lightening speed. What really matters is the people who are connected and impacted through what you are doing. You can be a goal smashing machine but doing it without making any connections with other humans, doing it without thoughtfulness and care about how it will impact others will probably leave you feeling like your smashed goals were pretty meaningless. Yes, we have big goals for The Will King Foundation. We have audacious ideas about how to reach children from all over the world and how to impact our local community but reaching those goals quickly just for the sake of reaching them quickly is not at all what I want to be about. Slowing down, thinking it through and making meaningful connections along the way is a goal that won’t be crushed overnight and I’m okay with that.
I created something for YOU. It’s for anyone who wants to start something new. It’s for anyone who has started something new but you feel stuck. Maybe you’ve run into one or more of the roadblocks I have experienced. Maybe you need some tools and encouragement to help you move forward and figure out the next right thing. I hope this Simply Start Workbook will help you. You can download it for free below!
*This link if for NEW subscribers only, if you are already subscribed to The Will King Foundation then your free workbook should already be in your inbox!
Our mission is to children from developing countries receiving heart treatment in Jacksonville, FL.
My name is Courtney Hughes and I am Will's mommy. I am happy that you are here to read Will's story and make a difference with us!