Have you ever witnessed a sunset on a beach and tried to snap a picture to capture that moment forever? I’ve tried many times, yet the picture never is quite able to convey the depth of the moment or the emotion stirred by staring out onto a vast ocean dancing in the glow of the setting sun. This blog is a little like that picture in that it will be impossible to capture in words the feeling and emotion of the past weekend when eight of my MJ co-workers and I were able to travel to Mexico for a home build. I can only hope this post provides a glimmer of the key life lessons I bring home from this trip.
We arrived in Ensenada, Mexico, focused on the task of building a home for Delmi and her three children Jose (9), Margarita (7) and Yordy (5). The support of the incredible staff from Youth with a Mission, Delmi’s family, as well as the local community, energized and inspired us for those 48-hours of construction. A meaningful part of the home dedication was when her keys were passed around and each of us could share what the experience had meant to us. Seeing Delmi’s smile as she opened her new front door is a look I’ll never forget.
I realized that my biggest take away was the intense desire to find a way to bring this experience home and share it in a meaningful way so that we all can continue to foster our MJ culture of service to others. As a purpose driven company, MJ’s mission is “to inspire the success, fulfillment and wellbeing of each person we serve.” In order to honor our purpose, we have a responsibility to learn and grow from opportunities like the one several of us just experienced. The following lessons jumped out at me, and I hope they can be a cause to pause and consider for you.
Leading is about building people up
Walter was foreman tasked with directing a group of nine people who all had minimal building skills. His ability to quickly teach us how to accomplish a task was essential to the house being completed, yet he also gave us each the freedom to execute in our own unique way. Mistakes happened – like me installing drywall over an electrical outlet – yet Walter used them as teachable moments so we could carry on and not dwell on the misstep. How can each of us be a “Walter” leader – recognizing that everyone has a skill to bring, it just needs to be built up and coached?
Follow your Passion
Our work stemmed from the Youth with a Mission base. The passion and energy of the youth who worked there was contagious. It was clear the phrases “it can’t be done” or “that’s impossible” did not exist in their vocabulary. These young adults exuded passion for helping making housing reality for the members of this community and this organization will build over 1,000 houses for families in need this year. All of us from MJ were overcome with their focus and determination, and nothing was going to stop us from finishing Delmi’s house on time. Nothing is more powerful than a person who is intentional in pursuing a purpose-driven life. Do we invest the time needed to articulate and nurture the passions in our lives?
Look for inspiration everywhere
Delmi’s journey as a single mother working hard to provide for her family by selling candy via bicycle inspired me. She found joy in community, and this translated to her children who were perfectly content when I paused for a made-up game with sticks with Margarita. The simple pleasures of a new game with a new friend should never be overlooked. Delmi’s oldest child, Jose, was helping us put the walls to their new house in place and was overcome with joy when he discovered they would have three windows (not just one). Inspiration is not only found in individuals who are wildly successful, perhaps more can be found in those who find the strength to overcome the challenges and keep smiling. How can we take ownership of the challenges we face and inspire others to do the same?
Just like a sunset, our time in Mexico came to an end. Yet the glow of lessons learned will shine in me as I commit to a purpose-driven life of service, with this experience as a base to which I can return for inspiration.