God's Math: A Story of Abundance
The year 2004 and my boys had come home from preschool and each had planted seeds and seen a small plant emerge and they were not impressed. For some reason this bothered me that the miracle of life did not excite them with a sense of wonder and what is possible. I decided to purchase mammoth sun flower seeds, a tray and some top soil for sowing. We planted 36 seeds only 33 germinated and 3 did not look like the package. Couple of lessons here: not everything is productive and sometimes the results are not what we expect. About 10 days latter we transplanted them in the ground. And within the next 3 months we had plants towering from 6 feet high to 12 feet high. While that was exciting to the boys there is more to the story. We harvested some 72,000 seeds from those 30 mammoth flowers. Next, I asked of myself and the boys what would be possible if we did the math to determine the potential of 12 months of sunflower seeds being planted again two more times? The numbers came back at 28,800,000 seeds in one year. Wow! Think about it. Are we not seeing what is possible? Are we so focused on current circumstances we do not see the potential of planting the seeds of the plant we already have in front of us. Or have we tried and failed and now question even trying again.
What does the abundance look like around us each day? In the artist world it’s writing, painting, singing to create something from almost nothing. So canvas and paints costs $25 and could sell for hundreds or thousands. In the business world it’s taking idea of goods and services and bringing them to the marketplace and selling them for a profit. In the consultant’s world it’s finding problems in organizations to fix for a fee or potential opportunities yielding results not seen. Often times we are told that it is not possible or you can’t do that, or it will not work. This mental construct of “can’t” shows up more than we will admit. Just like the sun flowers need nutrients, sunshine and rain and some weeding and care. We can hope and pray for big results on the seeds planted and sometimes the harvest is great and other times not so. There are always attacks on our garden and to think differently is naïve. Knowing we will have to weed and water and care we still should plant and take risks and think about what might be possible. The “can’t” tell you or your nonprofit board to not try anything new or focus on the current problems and not about vision, mission and values. What is possible when our boards are relieved of solving daily operational issue and focus on what is possible for the community? Not how are we going to help the sick but rather what is possible to reduce or eliminate the illness? Rotary took on the Polio vaccine raised money and teamed up with World Health Organization to deliver vaccines globally. One man took up the cause and asked what if we could eradicate polio forever? We are very close to seeing this accomplished in the next couple of years.
Another weed in the garden of possibility is negative thoughts of board members or council or elders thinking they are only volunteers. Or the culture that says this is a non-profit what can we do? I am not wealthy individual what can I do? According to Hildy Gottlieb maybe organizations should think in terms of what they really do and rename non-profits “community benefit organizations”. Yeah I like the sound of that. Focus not on weeds or daily problems as you form a vision statement of what is possible. Think about the future impact as a visionary. Plan towards inspiring goal rather than fixing something broken. See what our world and communities would look like if focused on building healthy vibrant communities. What if we took the seeds harvested and shared and planted and sowed them abundantly. What if our leaders could focus on the positive impact both now and future rather than chase operational issues that tear away energy. If this sounds too much like mumbo jumbo and you love for your board to act as operations director or human resources director then turn this stuff off. If on the other hand you know deep inside there is more that can be done in your community benefit organization then tune in again as we take an amazing journey together.