Stories show us how to bear the unbearable, approach the unapproachable, conceive the inconceivable. Stories provide meaning, texture, layers and layers of truth. – Joseph Campbell .
In my job as CEO of a large nonprofit, one of the critical pieces of my work is making sure that we measure the impact of the work we do. Twice a year, in the name of transparency, we present a release of our financial health to our stakeholders, vendors, funders, and interested community, demonstrating that we are responsible stewards of the resources entrusted to us. In addition, we pursue the tracking and analysis of Metrics That Matter –metrics that reflect our efficacy in changing the lives of those served. These numbers in part tell the story of the work of our agency, and they are effective tools in helping us manage and measure our progress toward our mission of eliminating barriers to economic well-being.
Our “numbers” story serves a very important purpose. But underneath every single number lies the individual stories of people whose lives are transformed by the work we do. These stories are what keep all of us coming to work each day.
The stories of the individuals whose lives we touch connect us. They show us a world beyond our own—a world where we get to walk alongside another, seeing things from a lens that is different from our own. They give us what the poet Mary Oliver calls the “sustentation of empathy”—an ability to see a truth different from our own, but equally as valuable, as poignant, as full of hope and fear, experience and triumph as the narratives of our own lives.
When we hear the stories of those we serve, we remember why we do the work we do. We hear about the defining moment in people’s lives where they were transformed by hope, by mentorship, by recognizing that a dream could become a reality. Part of our work at Fedcap is to understand the narrative of each life. The narrative gives us the reasons why, it helps us inspire hope, and it helps us strive to a life—and often a generation— that is transformed.
At the end of November, we will be hosting our annual celebrating our Celebration of Work Gala. This year, we are honoring stories of perseverance and overcoming tremendous adversity. We will hear from individuals who have risen above life-defying odds to go on to not only survive, but to thrive and to go on to inspire others.
At Fedcap, we are about transformation, about hope, and about the power of possible.
Each night I think about a story that I’ve heard, a life changed. And while I am always thinking about what we can do next, I rest easier knowing that there are new narratives being created every day. Every one of us has a story worth telling—our story is what gives our lives meaning. What’s yours?