How I spend my days continues to evolve, not dramatically, but when I look at what I am doing now compared to two years or five years ago there seems to be a lot of difference. It just kind of creeps up. Suffice to say there is next to nothing that remains the same from 10 years ago when I was still within the police.
I find myself in longer engagements with clients, having just been part of a four day event in Kota Kinabalu, which was only two days after spending several days with two different clients in Phuket and Bangkok. Proceeding that was the Social Venture Program which took us into the slums of Khlong Toei and up to Baan Home Hug over six days. What I’m finding is certainly a deeper sense of return and enjoyment in these longer programs. Not only am I enjoying the longer engagement but the feedback is so too are the delegates and program partners.
In helping people understand what I do and give greater insight I spent some time with a good mate of mine Joel de Carteret putting together a bit of a clip. You can check out here my new showreel that speaks to what I am doing these days.
It’s probably no coincidence then that as these changes have been occurring for me personally it is reflected in what Hands is doing, our focus and future direction.
How has this change for me personally permeated across into Hands? It’s about CHOICE. Personally I’m choosing the type of work that I enjoy doing, it needs to be food for my soul and I need to believe that it is delivering value. Not surprising then that as the Board of Hands spent some time reflecting on what we stand for three key values emerged; Choice, Commitment and Compassion.
Commitment and compassion don’t really need a great deal of explanation and makes sense for the long term focus we take to the work we do at Hands. I’d like to think that compassion is part of all that we do.
So what about Choice?
As I reflect on the impact of Hands, it becomes less about the amount of money that we raise, the number of buildings we construct or even the number of kids in our homes. They’re measures but don’t really reflect the impact we might be making, or not, and they don’t really speak to Choice.
When I speak about our impact during my keynote presentations I suggest that as a charity that is now in its eleventh year if we really want to measure impact and choice it might be a little premature. With choice as a key value, how does the number of homes we build, dollars we raise or bike rides that we run speak to choice? If our kids spend five, seven or ten years with us and upon leaving one of our homes find that their choices are limited and the boys find themselves working in a rubber plantation for $6 a day, the girls in a bar or worse, have we really provided them with choice, have we really been successful? And if that is the outcome I would suggest we’ve failed them.
Surely the measure of our impact, the difference we have made is really only realised when the kids leave our homes and because of the education they have received they have true choice about their life. If they leave educated, equipped and choice abounds them and then they choose a rubber plantation or bar work, we have done the best we can. Of course we hope that for the sake of the kids and their kids, their choice leads them down a different path.
Part of that is the number of kids we now fund through university. We have 46 kids now studying at various universities across Thailand with courses as wide as science, agriculture, business, tourism, english literature and Chinese business. This is surely a measure of impact and leading the kids down a path of choice. It’s not all about university, we're building additional programs and funding many others that are outside the lecture rooms of university.
I didn’t start the year off looking for “my word” it’s not something I sat and workshopped up, it just kept rising to the surface and I think I like it. For a while at least I’ve decided it’s going to be about choice.