In anticipation of his book launch, Jonathon has challenged us to write of "a time where you danced with uncertainty…and won." As I wrote in January of last year, my life changed in an instant when the earthquake devestated Port-au-Prince. Within 24 hours, I had crossed the border from the Dominican Republic into Haiti. I had no idea what I would find nor what would happen next. I knew that I needed to jump. I took over management of our Haiti office and went from running a small program to a large, chaotic one in the middle of the worst crisis in the Western hemisphere.
I knew that I was in way over my head and trusted that I could make my mistakes as quickly as possible and move our operations in the right direction. I leaned in, worked closely with my team, made lots of mistakes, and kept moving forward. The first few months are still a blur. Even a year later, the wild ride continues.
Before the earthquake, we were doing $10 million worth of work a year. The year of the earthquake, we raised only $2 million--a paultry sum compared to most NGOs, yet we rebuilt our systems, developed new programs, and did $16 million worth of quality work. Next year, we will top $30 million! Not only are we doing twice as much work, but the work is better. My Project Directors are linchpins. We are recognized as leaders in our work. Life is good.
Except I still battle the butterflies every day. With growth come new challenges--can we hire new people as good as our existing team? How do we keep moving forward? How do I sell our programs to new donors? Am I really leading in the right direction.
I thank God for the chance to have helped Haiti in the early days after the earthquake and for the trial by fire that has made me a stronger leader. I also miss those days pre-earthquake when my life was quieter and the fights easier. I preordered Jonathon's book, not because I want to go back, but so that I can do a better job of taming the butterflies.