A “why statement” clearly expresses your unique contribution and impact. The impact reflects the difference you want to make in the world, and the contribution is the primary action that you take to be a difference maker. I have been on a journey to create my own why statement, and while I am clear on what that is, I have been less effective at articulating how I got there. I have had many opportunities to “share my story” both leading up to and after the creation of Essential Leadership. What I have come to realize in the sharing is that my own sense of why did not involve a profound, dramatic moment, but instead evolved gradually over my lifetime.
Growing up in the Philadelphia suburbs, even as the child of divorced parents, my life was fairly serene. I led a comfortable life and I remember a nagging feeling that I wanted more. I was craving more texture, more integration, more vibrancy and enriching experiences with people of different backgrounds. I cannot recall a singular moment of a philanthropic awakening. Perhaps it was a connection to the whole- knowing that living in comfort wasn’t all there was, but that ultimately as people, neighbors, and members of a community, we were all connected.
I looked for my way out and I found it through extended solo international travel. My first trip was to Australia, New Zealand, and Fiji. I desired to see the world and I longed to find my place in it. I discovered wanderlust, adventure and an independent spirit. My next trip alone was to Israel to learn more about my heritage, my religion, and our collective history. While I learned about myself and my surrounding world, I craved being part of the larger fabric of a society and desired coming back to the city where I grew up to live a life that “made a difference”. As a traveler, I felt like a consumer and a taker, not a doer and creator of value. My desire to go home and be productive stemmed from my core belief that I needed to be a giver. I knew that when I came back to Philadelphia in the early 90s that I would immerse in the city itself and get to know it in a way that I never experienced as a young girl.
The fabric of my professional life has focused on working with students who have an inner drive to succeed but lack access to channels of financial, academic and social supports. Over the decades, I became connected philosophically with access to education and opportunity, and in a broader sense, began to formulate a deeper understanding of inequity and injustice.
Along the way, I have had and continue to have a deep desire to continue to learn, grow, and develop relationships with people and organizations also on a learning journey. As a philanthropy coach, I am uniquely positioned to connect with those who are exploring what matters to them by employing a level of curiosity and inquiry that allows them to bring more awareness to what drives them and leads them on a journey toward their sense of inner purpose. My why is the thing that I most love to give to others as well as the thing I need to receive and feel myself.
My why is to explore with people what they care about and engage them in meaningful ways so that they connect with depth to themselves, each other, and society; and live a more fulfilled life of purpose and passion.