The Importance – And Fun – of Saying “Yes” to the Unfamiliar

With a name like “Equity Schools, Inc.” you might think all we do is work on school projects.

Well, I really like schools a lot, I love what they can do, and probably 80% of our work involves them in some form: public, private, charter, PK-12, colleges, universities, urban, small town. And we are always thinking of how their challenges might be met by collaborating in some way with other friendly users.

Nevertheless, apart from schools we do get unusual project requests that might surprise you, and sometimes we wind up working on them. At the very least we offer ideas and a little help, but we’ve actually worked on about half of these:

  • Minor league baseball stadium
  • Retirement community
    Barney Fife, Don Knotts

    Officer Barney Fife, visibly intimidated by unfamiliar challenges.

  • State fair
  • Cannabis dispensary
  • Community center
  • Light rail transportation system
  • Refugee center
  • Zoo
  • Animal shelter (no kill)
  • Foster care organization
  • Arts center
  • Velodrome
  • Watershed biodiversity plan
  • Landmine survivor compensation
  • Continuing care retirement community
  • Aquarium
  • Blimp port (not kidding)
  • Property tax reform
  • Soccer complex
  • Women’s shelter
  • Performing arts center
  • Adoption agency
  • Disability services

It can be intimidating when you’re asked to work on something outside your wheelhouse. After all, what did I know about blimp ports or velodromes? Admittedly, not much. However, I do know that almost every question has an answer. I also know that if you don’t shy away from new and unfamiliar challenges, you just might be surprised at what you’re capable of.

You Don’t Have to Get it Right, Just Get it Started

Getting started is always the hardest part. But then, as we have found, ideas start to flow in ways you don’t expect. Sometimes you even realize that you’re having fun trying to solve a new puzzle. Turns out our brains crave dynamic problem-solving challenges, and sometimes that’s exactly what you need to get out of a slump.

So, I would encourage you to take your unfamiliar challenges head-on. Do you have a difficult or unusual project looming on the horizon? The first thing to do is get started on it right away, even if you don’t know what you’re doing. Before long, you’ll find that you know more than you thought you did.

These are the kinds of things – these challenges – that get me going in the morning (sometimes with the help of a little hot, dark, Fair Trade coffee).

Confession time: With the exceptions of great music, delicious food, and our wonderful grown sons, nothing makes me happier than a good challenge.

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