Looking back and pushing forward
You’ve probably heard the Mary Oliver quote, “Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” It’s a common question phrased so very beautifully. I was thinking about this yesterday morning as I looked out from my office window. Pittsburgh’s Frick Park is starting to look like fall. That had me thinking about how I spend my time and what I’ve accomplished thus far in 2015.
It’s funny – hours later another consultant asked me if I ever think about my progress. I’d say the answer is that I do think about it, but not with regularity. It’s easier to continue going through the motions of daily and weekly tasks, and to look forward to what’s next. Sometimes we have to stop ourselves, or let transition times like changing seasons or the New Year help us to stop and assess. So here I am, stopping to consider and share what’s been notable for me this one wild year:
- I took a big risk this past winter. I decided to go full time with my consulting and coaching practice, stepping away from the security of 20 hours a week with Pennsylvania Environmental Council. It was a difficult choice, but the right one. That one big risk has forced me to take subsequent risks and to be hungry for more consulting and coaching work.
- Spring was a whirlwind. In a crazy four-week period, I got married, attended the International Trails Symposium in Portland, Oregon, and gave talks both four hours east and four hours west of Pittsburgh. I chaired a scholarship program that brought 16 young adults to the trails symposium and also presented a session that has led to upcoming speaking engagements in Iowa and Illinois.
- I gave keynotes across northern PA, and soon thereafter vacationed across the same corridor – a long-awaited PA Wilds vacation, complete with trips to the Pine Creek Gorge, the Cherry Springs State Park dark sky observatory, and Straub Brewery. This trip further informed my work in placemaking and tourism (and allowed me to finally have a drink from the Eternal Tap).
- For the River Town Program, I rolled up my marketing sleeves and orchestrated the Come Down to the River and Play multi-community event weekend. And this fall, they asked me back to host a small business workshop on marketing and customer service.
- My most involved project of the year was for the Pennsylvania Recreation and Park Society. I teamed up with Swell, LLC to make the case for local parks and recreation. I did the research on the essential nature of parks and rec, and Swell rolled out a new, statewide brand – “good for you. good for all.” More recently, I took some of that same research and presented it in a lighter platform with my “F is for Forest” Learnist board.
- I’m working on a great trail tourism project this fall for the Industrial Heartland Trails Coalition. I’m assessing the destination appeal of the various long-distance trail corridors and recommending a strategy for tourism along these trails.
- The most fun I’ve had all year (for work) has been my newest project. I’m developing content for a series of community walking tours for Rivers of Steel. The platform being used is Tagalong Tour, a great new iOS app that started in Pittsburgh.
- I always remind people that my business has two sides: consulting (all of the above) and coaching. I continue to offer career coaching outside on trails all four seasons. A goal for me in 2016 is to build my clientele and to expand beyond Pittsburgh. While I love being outside with my clients face-to-face, there’s a lot of flexibility in my nature-based approach to coaching. How I would love to work with people all over the U.S. and beyond – and will. They can take intentional walks or rides leading up to sessions. Or sit outside on a park bench during a session. There’s a ton of research that shows that being outside in nature makes us more creative, and I see it in my clients when we’re out there working on their agendas in an expansive space, so I’m going to keep going with this.
It’s been one heck of an exciting year. But here’s the thing: there were also rejections and missed goals. There have to be. A friend recently posted that “If you haven’t been told ‘no’ lately, then you’re not asking often enough.” That’s the way I see it. We have to continue to put ourselves out there, to try new approaches, to build new partnerships, and to keep on going toward fulfilling our vision. Keep going, keep going.
In the spirit of asking…if you’d like a complimentary coaching session to think about the bold vision you’re working toward, drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org. The same goes for consulting. If you have a need, let’s talk!