What’s Next?
Randy Wolken, President & CEO

Do you find yourself asking “what’s next?” more often than before? We seem to be on the verge of emerging into what will become the future. However, it is once again delayed with the resurgence of COVID-19 in our community, our nation, and the world. So, we feel we must put off considering what is next. But, should we put it off? No, we should not.

It seems only rational to put off building the future when we are caught in a current crisis. Let’s put out the fire before we consider building something new. It makes a lot of sense to do so. However, it also seems like we always have lots of fires to put out. When will we ever get to creating a better future if we spend all our time putting out today’s fires? Probably, never. This can become a recipe for failure. Build your future as you put out today’s fire. Or tomorrow – and a brighter future – will never come.

One of the main reasons to begin to build a better future is to give yourself and others hope. Hope is a powerful motivator. It may be the only emotion that will get you through your day. Hope is a byproduct of imagining and creating a future. Can you think of a great leader who did not generate hope for a better future? They are hard to find. Hope is the fuel for the work needed to build better tomorrows.

Hope has gotten me through the darkest times in my life. Sometimes that meant fighting the fires as I created opportunities to build a better future. I have to remind myself of this when I am tempted to put it off for another day. The only better time to have planted a tree than today was yesterday – or 10 years ago. However, we do not have a time travel machine – yet. Until then, plant the tree today as you put out the forest fire.

One of the darkest moments in my life was when my youngest daughter was deathly ill. Every day seemed like an eternity. At the same time, I was rebuilding a struggling nonprofit called The Samaritan Center. I would go to work and get lost in creating something extraordinary and needed for at least a few hours each day. It gave me hope that I could do something worthwhile. It kept me sane. It offered a light in the darkness. By the way, if you have not met my youngest daughter, Rebecca, she has grown into one of the most wonderful young women I know. She is my daily reminder that the darkest moments can be overcome with hope, a little faith, and perseverance.

Forests are created one tree at a time. No one plants a forest. Instead, they plant one tree at a time. Begin creating opportunities one step at a time. Get started today. Ask yourself, what is the one thing I can do today to get started? That one action can give you the hope you need to spend the rest of the day fighting your fires. And, day by day, you and those you work with can build an exciting future while fighting fires. Build while you survive this current crisis. It will give you the strength and hope you need to persevere.