Photo by Temi Coker

I have always prided myself on my communication skills. A classic ENFP (anyone else love Myers-Briggs?), I am excited and can easily draw people into a vision or goal. So, you can imagine what it was like for me to be tongue-tied when we first began our non-profit, community development collaborative: Konbit Haiti. People would ask about it, and my perception would be that they were ready to shut it down. So, I shut down. And, fast. If you are like me, there was so much backstory to the reasons I wanted to start Konbit that I felt overwhelmed by stories and incapable of explaining any of them all at the same time. This, plus my age and people’ perception of me, caused people to be very hesitant at first. Even if all the folks in my life didn’t say no, they sure didn’t act as they believed in us.

I am happy to say that we are a few years in now and it is hard for people to not say “yes” to what is happening in Haiti. Here are some pointers I have for people who might find themselves in the same situation- and how to press on with your vision.

01 | Know Your Why
It doesn’t matter if you can explain it right away, but you and you alone must know why you want to start your program, business, innovation, etc. My “why” was even different than my husband’s. I wanted to start Konbit Haiti because of an experience I had working with an orphanage and how strongly I’d begun to feel about orphan prevention. This is what has carried me through the first awkward conversations that led me to feel discouraged. I knew my motivation.

02 | Don’t Throw Your Pearls Before Pigs
Don’t get caught up in telling everyone your vision. Some people will not get it- even after you have a thriving organization. Don’t worry about it. Instead, focus in on the people who seem to understand, or who have a willingness to learn. Those will be people in your corner.

03 | Create a Safe Space for Yourself
It’s ok to feel discouraged or down, but there need to be moments of solitude and reflection for you to move forward. If people are discouraging you, where can you go to remind yourself of your “why” and of those who are in your corner? For me, it was on my mom’s property- breathing in fresh air and reminding myself that there is more to life out there than just the small amount of people I had shared with.

04 | Be Open-Handed
One of the best pieces of advice was from a Costa-Rican friend in development. He said, “Be closed on your vision but open with your methods.” This changed things for me. We can be open to suggestions of people who have gone before us while still being true to our vision.

In the end, you are the one fulfilling your vision (hopefully with an amazing team behind you). Don’t be afraid to stand up for your dreams, be open to possibilities, and to reach for those high goals you have set. Many times the only thing stopping you- is you!

At Conscious, we are inspired by stories that empower us to think differently and think big-picture, and so we set out to tell stories with the help of leaders within the social good community. You can read more stories like this when you join as a member.