This week, Kasey and I have been working with four different United Ways in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Illinois, and Wisconsin. One of the most rewarding aspects of our work is that we learn so much from each and every United Way we work with. Most often, the things we learn do not come from anything we planned to do with the United Way, or from the services we are providing to the United Way, but from the moments in between.
I have found that vacations are often the same way. I have countless vacation memories about things that just happened during vacation, things that were unscheduled or unplanned, but made the vacation enjoyable and memorable. Earlier this summer, while on vacation with my family, we found a little roadside farmer’s market in the middle of nowhere in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula on our way to somewhere. We had not set out to find the farmer’s market, but the treats we found there made the whole vacation special. In recent years, I have deliberately tried not to plan my vacation, so that those unplanned and unscheduled memories occur even more often. The less intentional I have become about vacation, the more enjoyable my vacations have become.
Perhaps the same holds true for our work. We can go to a United Way conference with the scheduled and planned intent of learning something, and leave the conference having learned something. But, the possibilities of learning something as valuable, if not more valuable, can come from those unplanned and unscheduled moments. Pick up the phone and give a call to someone in your position at another United Way - someone you met previously or even someone you have never met. Call them and tell them you are taking a quick vacation to United Way and spend 20 minutes talking with them about what they are excited about in their work, what makes things happen at their United Way, or even what makes them feel good at the end of the day. Be sure to share the same with them and by the end of the conversation you’ll have learned something valuable that you never expected.
Take a moment in the next week for a learning vacation – and come back learning something unexpected but rewarding.