THREE DEGREES of SEPARATION.. Beneficial Connections!!

I have arrived to work at St Bernard Project in New Orleans, LA.  This non-profit has the momentous task of building homes and re-building lives of disaster-impacted families in the Orleans and St Bernard Parishes.  On the day I arrived, it was, of course, sweltering (temp about 90 but the humidity was about 75-80%).  I quickly determined that many of my “so-called” cool blouses from Washington State were not going to cut it.

As mentioned before, my main focus during this experience is to understand how to  implement successful change within organizations.  It was interesting because when I met with the CEO his first words to me were ‘Doris, I want you to be my Change Agent!!”. 

CHANGE #3– The implementation of change is so much easier if there is buy-in from the top; the trick (or better yet, the talent) is to get everyone at every level to buy in!!

SO, I set about my first day, making sure I was actively listening and asking appropriate questions.  I was determined to throw myself into my current environment; to block out everything from Washington State and to “be” totally where I was.  On that first day, I was invited to participate in a Volunteer Orientation (SBP has approximately 100-150 volunteers to come through their doors on any given day!!  This is an army of volunteers!!).  I head out to the orientation area and, as I am working in the marketing area for SBP, I asked the volunteers what got them interested in volunteering with SBP and where were they from.  They generally replied that they wanted to serve and to give back to a damaged community that was in need.  And they said they were from SEATTLE, WA!!  Imagine my surprise in that I had come all the way to New Orleans and the first group I get to work with is from my home state.  After enjoying the “brief” state-reunion, I headed to the next volunteer group and met the Volunteer Group Leader- Randy Rutkowske: Randy works with GSK in RTP, NC (the corporate headquarters for my home company!!

 Throughout my first day at St Bernard Project, I reflected on that first morning and realized something:  Change is not about dismissing or ignoring the past.  It is about taking the beneficial part of the past and creating something even more beneficial for your current situation.  Change does not mean that the previous was wrong or perhaps not effective; change simply means that you recognize that something new and better needs to be realized and utilized.  I also realized that first day that we are all connected in some way.  When you are determined to meet the future with  an openess and with enthusiasm, don’t “chop off” all of what you knew; it is that past, by the way, that helped you to get to where you are. CHANGE #4:  We are all connected.  Embrace all connections around you.  It will help you charge confidently towards your future.  All of my connections to my home state and to my home company, all of these connections make me stronger and well, Doris.  I get excited now in wondering when I’ll meet other “connections”!  What will be the connecting link!!  How exciting is that!! See ya soon!!