Let’s Talk About Failing, Learning and Growing Up


Photo by Jannis Brandt on Unsplash

 

I’m not going to shock anyone with this statement, but growing up is hard. It’s painful at times. It involves a lot of mistakes and a lot of unexpected twists. I’m a different person than I was six years ago. And though our core mission has stayed the same, Spark is, in many ways, a different organization than it was six years ago. Together, we’ve grown and changed a lot. And with Sarah Freemark (formerly of CTV Morning) joining the Spark team as our ambassador, we’ve reached what feels like the right moment to reflect on who we are, what we stand for, and how we’ve changed for the better.

 
 Photo by Debora Cardenas on Unsplash

Photo by Debora Cardenas on Unsplash

 

It feels like a long time ago now - the night that Mike, Chris and I stayed up late in a small Toronto hotel room and hammered everything out. Our mission, our benefits, our vision, our values. All of it. The whiteboard was full and we were very excited. Funnily enough, a lot of the important stuff I’ve learned in the years since, is pretty similar to what we actually wrote down at the time.

But it’s one thing to agree with an idea. It’s another to really, deeply believe it and live it out. Sometimes you need life to force you to learn how important something is. Sometimes you forget something you knew and have to be reminded. Sometimes you just realize something is more complex than you thought.

One of the most important things I learned from my dad is to “talk about the real stuff” - especially the hard, painful or embarrassing stuff that we usually like to skip over. That’s one of the main reasons this blog exists. I think we still have a way to go when it comes to talking about our failures and our struggles, and I want to help change that. Because, while I’m not against “focusing on the positive,” I’m convinced that having a safe space to talk about “the negative” is actually an important part of being a happy and healthy community. Failure is the best teacher.

 
 Photo by Josh Marshall on Unsplash

Photo by Josh Marshall on Unsplash

 

With that in mind, I’m beginning a series of reflections about how I’ve failed, learned and grown while leading Spark these last six years. My hope is to ask questions and weigh in with my perspective, but also to spark (pun intended) a conversation with you on those questions. I’ll be asking questions like:

Should you be friends with your co-workers?

In the business world there’s a raging debate over this question. I once sat in a roundtable discussion and listened to two leading experts in the field argue passionately over it. I’ll offer my take and tell you about a painful mistake I made by leaning too far in one direction.

What’s more important, a productive workplace or happy co-workers?

From the beginning we had a fundamental tension between our desire to grow and be successful, and our desire to have a happy place to work. You can do everything possible to create a healthy work environment, but if you’re burning yourself out, your team will start to do the same thing. I’ll share some hard lessons I learned about productivity.

Is it better for your team to mostly agree or mostly disagree?

Diversity matters for a lot of obvious reasons. We have clients from all walks of life and our goal was always to match them with caregivers from all walks of life. But having a unified team that’s on the same page is important too. Can you value both equally? I’ll give some thoughts on it.

 
 Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

 

I look forward to begin this conversation with you, maybe even spark (ok I’ll stop doing that) a little healthy debate. You can stay tuned by subscribing to the blog below or following Spark on social media. I’ll leave you with this great quote, from Robert Kennedy: “Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly.” Here’s to failing greatly.

 

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