Will I Go?

Starting a nonprofit for children called “The Green House.”

Living in Cambodia for a year to work with an orphanage.

Becoming a Marine Corps Officer to join a cause bigger than myself.

These are all large decisions that I started down the path to pursue at some point in my life. I was going to start a nonprofit that acted as a “greenhouse” for children where they could be nurtured and grow. I was going to move to Cambodia for a year to work in an orphanage. I was a Marine Corps Officer candidate, but then I decided to not move forward with pursuing a commission.

All of these were life-changing decisions. My reasons, or excuses, for diverting and going different directions varied for each one. Not enough experience. Not enough guts. Not enough physical stamina. Fear of leaving people behind. Fear of what awaited me in the unknown. Money. Pride. A narrow worldview.

These three decisions that I ultimately decided to not follow through on are lost opportunities to me. None of them have great financial implications. I am definitely making more money now than I would as a non-profit leader, a missionary or a Marine Officer. Money isn’t my opportunity cost, but life experiences, finishing something that I start and taking leaps to follow my passions – these are my costs.

What would have come of the nonprofit? Even if it flopped, would I have learned something valuable very early on in my life that would have propelled me to greater things?

How much did I lose by not following my dreams of moving to Cambodia to work in an orphanage full of children whom I love and adore? What did I steal from them by not going?

Would I have made a great Marine Officer? Or would I have washed out of Officer Candidate School? Would I have made a great leader to young Marines?

These are all questions that I don’t have the answers to, because I didn’t leap. My stranglehold on my circumstances at the time was too tight to let go and consider other options. I considered paychecks that are now spent and gone more important than life experience. I counted people’s opinions more important than my own happiness. I clung to status quo and the urge to climb invisible ladders, while abandoning the opportunity to create precious moments that money can’t buy.

But if I’ve learned anything in altMBA, it’s that this is not the end. This is a new beginning – a chance to leap, to learn and go into the world with a different mindset than when I arrived.

So, the signs are all there. The similarities are obvious. All of my failed pursuits of the past are pointing to an inalienable call to help those in need. I can surround myself with the wrappings of a 9-5 life in an attempt to fill some void of helping others, but it’ll never suffice. It’ll always be there deep down inside. It’s looming. It’s on the horizon. I can keep putting it off, or I can finally follow through.

This is a pull that I’ve felt for over 10 years now. Think about that. 10 years worth of time that I have pushed aside a yearning deep within me for other things. That’s a big opportunity cost in and of itself. Don’t get me wrong, there have been tremendous highs, accomplishments, wonderful friendships, experiences and more that occurred during that time. But I could have leapt further, pushed harder and followed the call.

In 2004 I was on a mission trip to Africa. As we stood in the middle of the vast Sahara Desert, I felt these three words impressed upon my soul – I will go. I etched them in the fine sand with my toe and snapped a picture.

At the age of 19, I didn’t know what this meant, looked like or would hold for the future. But I knew that I wanted to go wherever my mission lead me. Wherever I could help people and be a blessing to those in need, I was willing to go. These words still sit on the horizon beckoning me to step up and answer.


P.S.

The best way for me to capitalize on the momentum of the altMBA program and to make continual progress is to create a manifesto, a plan and an environment.

– A manifesto where I articulate my “what it’s for” so on the hard days, the long days and the slow days, I can remind myself why I started the journey.

– A plan with clearly written goals with actionable milestones to reach them.

– An environment of peers that will keep me in check, encourage me and challenge me to continually challenge myself.

A great foundation for all of these has begun in altMBA. Now it’s time to take responsibility and accountability for the knowledge that I’ve gained. Time to put altMBA into action.