By Gregg Grenier, Development and Communications Manager
Since graduating college almost 10 years ago, I, like most of my millennial friends, have been trying to figure out what I have to offer the world. Figuring out new ways to positively impact the communities where I reside and also to aid those organizations that are already established there to do just that has always fascinated me. Five years ago, I had come to a point where I didn’t think that my time, talent, and energy were making the impact that I wanted them to. I worked what felt like forever and didn’t see an impact, and I began to question whether or not a life in the public sector was where I wanted to be.
Then, in the spring of 2014, I was attending my younger sibling’s graduation ceremony where I was introduced to a new perspective on making a positive, social impact through a quote from Margaret Mead, a famous anthropologist: “never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”
After some reflection, I was stuck thinking about how could a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world? I had been searching for a piece of advice that would reenergize me and give me a reason to keep pursuing a career at organizations where causes and missions were the leading factors. Now in 2019, working at one of the Commonwealth’s leading providers of special education and human services (COMPASS), I have been able to reflect about what does it mean to actually be “thoughtfully committed”? As I see it, there are three major questions that, when answered, lead to someone being thoughtfully committed: 1) what are you most passionate about; 2) what values do you live by; and 3) how are you going to combine your passion and values to positively affect the world?
What are you most passionate about (that you can do something about)?
Passion can be defined as “a strong and barely controllable emotion”. When some people are posed with this question, it forces them to look internally and decide what one thing they can barely control the urge to go do and tell everyone they meet about. Finding the one thing that you are passionate about is a mixture of innate interests and experiences that fuse together to create a niche that you can’t live without working to become an expert in. Once you find things you are passionate about, you need to refine that list into things that you can realistically attack and do something about. It is great to be passionate about many things, but it is also important to be thoughtful about committing to one thing you can turn into a reality.
What values do you live by?
When you think about the choices you make and the opinions and beliefs you have, you begin to understand your values. The values that you live by influence your worldview and provide direction in times of uncertainty. What do you value? You can value more than one thing! Is it family, knowledge, fairness, love, faith, or success? If not, what else? Values ground you because they allow for a foundation to be built in creating your individuality. Those that are thoughtfully committed to making a positive impact on society have values that promote positivity, deep reflection, and service to others. This does not mean that your values cannot influence your decisions to better your life – they are meant to compliment it. In my opinion, having a balance of self-efficacy and service to others is key to living a fulfilling life.
How are you going to combine your passion(s) and values to positively affect the world?
Combining your passions and values is extremely important in being “thoughtfully committed” to making a positive impact on society. Being congruent with who you are at your core and how you act in public will allow learning and growth to take place. When you start to take stock of the world around you and begin to find your place in it, it is an exciting time! Your values and passion combined with understanding your place in the world can provide direction in where you can give back and have the biggest impact.
Throughout my professional career thus far, I have focused on working in the nonprofit and higher education sectors. Throughout these experiences, I have been able to engage in large-scale fundraising efforts; strategic planning; volunteer management; exploring and integrating various marketing platforms and channels; and management of staff, students, and volunteers. It is my goal to work with individuals and nonprofit organizations to realize their full potential and make that a reality. I have been working for and with nonprofit organizations over the past ten years to increase the impact that their organizations have on those they are serving. I have made it my mission through my full-time work, volunteer work, and adjunct teaching to incorporate a balance of business and mission-based decisions to change the world one step at a time. Through my position at COMPASS, I feel that I have the greatest opportunity to leverage my knowledge, skills, and passion for the greater good.