Why do we order off the menu?

Why aren’t pre-ordained roles that support good causes satisfying enough?

Maybe it’s the social entrepreneurial streak that makes us seek out a fresh, unaddressed cause.

Serving on boards can be rewarding, and you can learn a lot and be connected to collaborators and allies for other work, but I think it’s the structure of it that seems limiting. You’re formed into a team or task force for a specific purpose, and it has been defined by others. That doesn’t make it not worth doing, but it is, by nature, less interesting. It’s also usually about incrementality. How can we make this a little better? How can we increase membership? How can we evaluate these grant proposals and award them by how they fit the application guidelines? Again, nothing wrong with it, but the pace is too slow for a Champion. I’m glad that work is going on. I’m happy to describe it and its merits… you know, root it on… but I don’t want to do it. Maybe that’s my own personal aversion to work like that, because detail work… slowly building the case through research, stats, graphs etc. IS important. 

Maybe we seek out a fresh, unaddressed cause because we’ve got more to give, and nothing in our work life, home life or even a traditional civic life (Rotary etc.) is able to scratch the itch. A curmudgeonly pessimistic colleague of mine often says, dismissively and half joking after listening to one of my project updates, “You care so much,” and he’ll roll his eyes and smile.

He’s right. I do care, but that’s not all that animates a Champion. And it’s not merely a social entrepreneur’s moxie and creative daring either.

It’s something more.

It’s all that plus a desire to do something novel… and to show the world that nothing is impossible. Bundled in with altruism and that desire to take something as far as you can take it, is a feeling akin to rooting for an underdog, and I mean a real 16th seed in the NCAA tournament type of underdog. More than root for the team, we suit up to play. Then we find similarly wired teammates. Once the team is assembled, what you find is a team of undervalued, overlooked players with hidden strengths no one else saw. Their camaraderie and shared desire brings out the best in everyone. All of a sudden the wins start piling up and the team starts to believe in itself. You may be proving to others that your lost cause is not lost, but you’re also proving to yourself and others that you have a deep well of ability that the world never recognized. You’ve got several additional gears… unused muscles… and you’ve just got to use them before they rust, flex them and build them while there’s still time. A Champion is, essentially, a frustrated leader who, finding no opportunity in his or her life being offered otherwise, sets out to find an opportunity to live out their life as a leader more fully.

They are built of rugged stuff… self confidence wed to smarts and ingenuity… all made tougher still by the camaraderie of the teammates also in a quest to live out an unlived part of their lives… other people intent on doing what they were put on this planet to do.

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