“A world in which all children are safe, loved, and able to pursue life’s promise and potential.”
One of most fiercely debated concepts suggested at a seminar I attended a decade ago was that life in and of itself is empty and meaningless.
Within moments of the leader uttering those words, more than a dozen of the several hundred workshop participants immediately lined up behind microphones to offer passionate arguments to the contrary while others agreed. The challenge was to consider what it would mean to live a life (for an individual or an organization) deeply connected to our most cherished values and vision.
I’ve since listened to that same discussion at other programs in Florida and as far away as Tel Aviv. Although I was unaware of the intention behind the statement the first time I heard those words, I soon realized the goal was to cause people to pause from the busyness of life, intentionally choose and declare a purpose, and then live our lives with a daily commitment to the actions necessary to fulfill that vision.
Both individually and as leaders of enterprises, the seminar left each of the participants powerfully committed to a definition of integrity measured by our fulfillment of the vision each of us declared. For some, it was about being an example for our children, others sought financial success, many were committed to creating extraordinary interpersonal relationships, and more than a few were building organizations dedicated to ambitious, visionary accomplishments.
Over the past six weeks, I’ve thought about that conversation many times in the process of working with PAIRS Foundation’s Strategic Planning Advisory Group to create ROADMAP 2015. Last month, 13 of us spent two days reviewing the status of an ambitious plan created for PAIRS Foundation more than four years ago by Jennifer Dunlap of Development Resources, Inc. (DRi), a leading nonprofit advisor.
In 2006, Richard Marriott, president of Host Marriott Corporation, urged PAIRS Founder and, at the time, chief executive, Lori Gordon to hire DRi to analyze PAIRS’ operations, finances, and strategy to understand what was preventing the organization from effectively fulfilling its mission. The Marriott Family generously funded the cost of DRi’s work.
I was delighted to report that in the nearly four years since Lori named me Executive Director of PAIRS Foundation and two years since being elected President and CEO, nearly all of the critical deficiencies cited in the DRi Report have been addressed. The result has been the most significant period of growth and impact in PAIRS Foundation’s history.
While the management team at the time may have found it difficult to accept the criticism of the DRi Report in 2006, for the professionals who have directed the Foundation over the past several years, the findings provided specific, practical steps that have strengthened our ability to touch the lives of many thousands across the globe.
Although there is still progress to be made in several areas highlighted in the DRi Report, the foundation established by implementing the recommendations enables us to approach the next five years more capable than ever of advancing the mission and vision that has inspired the PAIRS community for more than a quarter century.
ROADMAP 2015 represents the next step in PAIRS Foundation’s evolution as an effective, visionary organization leading the field of marriage and relationship education. The strategic commitments highlighted in the plan for the five years that begin next week emerged after a thorough review of our progress implementing the DRi recommendations, important lessons learned in the process, and reaching a consensus on the most urgent priorities that deserve the focus of our human, financial, and organizational resources.
I invite you to consider the ten strategic priorities highlighted in ROADMAP 2015 and consider how our organizational commitments fit with the values and goals that are most important to your own life.
For those of you who are PAIRS licensees or partners and would like to review an update on the recommendations of the 2006 DRi Analysis, UPDATE 2010 provides a detailed status report. For a confidential copy, e-mail your request to firstname.lastname@example.org.
As we fast approach the end of the first decade of the new millennia, I hope you are also enjoying moments to pause, reflect on life’s many blessings and opportunities, and looking forward to a new year full with good health, abundant joy, and much love shared with those you most cherish.