How it ought to be

A story of professional commitments

It took longer than I expected to fully understand who I am as a professional — the better part of two decades, in fact. At work, the earliest version of me was one aspiring for a quick ascension up the organizational ladder, filling in knowledge and skill gaps along the way.

I traversed positions on a somewhat normal path. Coordinator to manager to director. And this worked, for a time.

The first dozen years of my career were spent navigating interesting-yet-prescribed roles in nonprofit philanthropy, programming, and operations. This was the way it went, until I met a colleague who would challenge the notion of me and help shape my future.

Ever since, this newfangled version of me has been evolving into one who realizes there is no true end to maturation. And in this way, as I have continued to develop, I also see how important it is for me to serve and develop others. In organizations especially, this is a brilliant cycle, replete with all boats raised by the collective tide.

This version of me pursues an expanse of connection, professional development, and an understanding that continued growth stems from a posture of possibility. 

A posture of aspiration.

A posture of what ought to be.

This revelation led me to cultivate what originally felt like core personal values, but have become, instead, a set of personal commitments: Openness, Unity, Growth, Humor, and Trust.

I see them — and commit to them — in the following ways.


I am invariably receptive to new possibilities, and unapologetically optimistic about the future. With so much to learn from one another, we owe it to ourselves to welcome ideas from everywhere and everyone around us.


Hospitable collaboration takes us farther than we can go alone, and to get there we must be on the same page. Asymmetry — of ideas and information — is a root cause of many organizational issues.


I staunchly believe that everyone can reach their fullest potential. All colleagues have the capacity to improve and move forward, and sometimes that means a deep dive instead of a steep rise. (Kim Scott wonderfully frames these types of colleagues as rock stars and superstars.)


Being jovial is a fundamental solution to many challenges in the workplace. Organizational life is hard, and even sometimes heavy. Levity creates an opportunity to make it less so.


I have unencumbered confidence in the abilities of people. Sometimes you lead from trust, and other times it’s the end result, but as Robert Greenleaf once mused, “Nothing will move until trust is firm.”¹

¹ From Greenleaf’s second major essay, “The Institution as Servant.” (Servant leadership: A journey into the nature of legitimate power & greatness, p. 101)

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