So it happened. We did it. The office is open. Now what?
For so long Eric and I had been asking ourselves what February 6th would look like. We were so focused on getting everything prepared for the launch that it was difficult to comprehend what came after that.
So what did February 6th look like? It was a slow day. People were meandering in and out throughout the day, some to work, some just to check the space out.
Despite having little conscious expectations for our first day, I found myself feeling slightly disappointed. Had I expected the energy from the previous evening to carry over into Thursday? Was it the small amount of people around that was alarming? What was this uneasiness I was experiencing? Why did I feel like I did something wrong?
I accepted and reflected, then honored this emotion. I acknowledged that February 5th wasn’t the end, it was really only the beginning. Something would have been wrong if I didn’t feel like there was more work to do. It wasn’t long before that feeling of disappointment washed right away with the leftover coffee I poured down the drain.
The emotions that remained after the disappointment dried up felt comforting. That uneasiness I was experiencing quickly morphed into motivation and excitement as I fully realized the journey ahead of us. I laughed at how silly I was to think that the culture was going to establish itself overnight, that I would come into work the next morning and the community would be developed and engaged.
When I spoke at the Opening, I emphasized the value of 20 minute conversations. You can never really anticipate what you will take away from a 20 minute conversation. These exchanges can be so fleeting, yet can affect us for the rest of our lives. Sometimes we recognize this effect in the moment; sometimes the understanding does not come for weeks, months, or years later.
Someone asked me what I am looking forward to the most now that the launch has passed. I responded, “I am excited to be present again.”
For a long time, a date, a deadline, a goal was lingering over head, making all the work needed to accomplish that goal more important than anything else in sight (I imagine this is what planning a wedding is like). If you have ever planned an event, you may have felt very similar. Because of that dynamic, I wasn’t as open, as curious, as patient. I wasn’t taking the time to ask questions, to learn, to listen and soak up the knowledge around me. So I am ready to be a student again. I am anticipating building new relationships and deepening existing ones. I am really looking forward to some good 20 minute conversations.
I am also looking forward to experimenting and testing out new ideas. Reflecting on an excerpt from my writing over the summer reminded me about that excitement.
“Although we have a plan and a focus, New Leaf will always retain the experimental personality it was born with. We are co-creating the framework for implementing change on a local level right alongside our community. Ideas and hypotheses are still going to be tested and we will probably realize some of them don’t work. But that’s okay. That is how we learn. We are here to provide the space for that learning to happen. We believe in our community and the things it can accomplish. Our role is to give it the push it needs to excel.”
Oh yea, mistakes are still key. I needed to remind myself that these first few months are going to consist of testing ideas out and seeing what works, what fits. We are going to mess up, but from those mistakes will come experience, awareness, and growth.
This past week, I attended the Global Innovation Summit in San Jose, CA, at the heart of Silicon Valley. There I engaged with people across 50 different countries around the world who are all committed to strengthening their respective innovation ecosystems. I learned so much and am looking forward to sharing my experiences with you all in my posts ahead.
One major take away that I will share now is how validated I felt in Silicon Valley. To be honest, I was slightly intimidated prior to my trip. How was tiny State College going to compare to other innovators on a global scale? Looking back, I don’t know why I was so timid. I was grounded and simultaneously uplifted by how relevant concepts discussed at the Summit are to efforts here in the Centre region. I consistently had something to offer through a real example in our community. There is still a ton of work on the road ahead of us, but the wheels are turning in the right direction. So cheers to you Happy Valley. From one Valley to another, you’re doing quite alright.