From Old Structures To New Beginnings
20/05/2020 - Impact Hub

The closing of one door is usually a symbol of a new door opening. The changes that are spreading across the world today, most of them linked to COVID-19, are turning the world upside down. This is a decade like no other, yet with turbulence comes reflection and change. And there has never been a better opportunity than there is now to explore new methods of constructing and building a better tomorrow. This is relevant to all areas of life: from career motivations to business development to personal and professional relationships and beyond. 

It is the open-minded and solution-oriented people that Impact Hub values highly many of them being a part of the network. Impact Hub is located in over 100 cities around the world and supports over 16,500 social entrepreneurs, all of who share a vision of building ventures that have a positive impact on people and places. One such person is Peter Begley who has held senior leadership roles in startup organizations and nonprofits for over 20 years and was part of the startup team at Impact Hub Boulder.

Peter is Chief of Staff and CFO of DEPLOY/US and a board member of Impact Hub Association and has shared with us his realizations in this time of change and renewal. He is applying his knowledge in network development, coaching, and mentoring of finance and operations teams to paint a picture of how this time in history can be used to tear down the old structures and start again. 

An Opportunity To Tear Down Old Structures And Start Again

For the last few months, meetings have been dominated by COVID-19 related topics for many of us.  The little virus has caused quite a mighty disruption. More business and personal conversations than I can remember have discussed solutions to deal with COVID-19’s material impact on our families, communities, and businesses.

During one particular meeting, I began to picture friends and colleagues standing with me in a forest while a dark storm rapidly formed in the distance. Ahead of us were several structures we had built over time with love and care, and fixed, modified, and repaired over the years. Each one of them now suddenly looked dangerously unstable. 

storm approachingPhoto by Johannes Plenio on Unsplash.

The raging storm overhead was ominous and howling loudly. It began to cause many of the structures to rattle and shake. Some features got lost, while others toppled entirely. A number of them impressively remained standing but were likely to no longer serve a purpose due to the degree of structural damage they endured.

While we collectively looked on and tried to make sense of this destructive force, and what rational actions to implement, a curious thought popped into my head. What if instead of trying to reinforce or patch up the existing structures, we tore everything down and started again? 

Photo by Daniel Tafjord on Unsplash.

With all of the hardware taken down and reorganized, could we survey things with clearer thinking – perhaps even fresh, unencumbered, and radically inspired thinking?

I felt encouraged by this tear-down concept as it unfolded in my mind. We all raced ahead and rapidly turned the structures into several organized piles of supplies. Taking a deep and satisfying breath, we eagerly inspected our inventory and began discussing what creative new approaches we could use to create again and have a fresh start. It felt like a new beginning.

That’s when I noticed the intense heat on my back from the approaching forest fire.

I am switching from the vision to reality as I write this and it makes the hair on my neck stand up when I think about the real-life implications of a catastrophe-on-top-of-a-catastrophe scenario. And yet, that is how much of life seems to go. Yes, the world and so many communities and individual lives have permanently changed as a result of COVID-19. And yet, another challenge is indefinitely creeping upon us. 

woman looking out window firePhoto by Aaron Thomas on Unsplash.

Despite this ongoing dynamic, the human spirit is deeply resilient and ingenious. Many more storms and fires lie ahead of us. But we can, and will, continue to stand back up. But let’s not just rebuild as we once were, let’s survey our resources and options. With certainty and a clean slate, we can build new structures that not only stand strong against storms, but can also withstand fire, and thrive amidst many other unknown threats. 

This is the sign you've been looking forPhoto by Austin Chan on Unsplash.

That is the opportunity we have in front of us – not to merely adjust and cope, but to fearlessly tear down, dream, and start afresh. It is also worth highlighting that while there will always be unknown dangers, we can embed resiliency, strength, and nimbleness in our creations to ensure their future viability.

I look forward to taking a deep breath, opening my eyes, and stepping forward with all of you to envision an inspiring and fresh version of the future.

green tees lightPhoto by Madison Nickel on Unsplash.

Peter Begley is currently Chief of Staff and CFO of DEPLOY/US and a board member of the Impact Hub Association. Views expressed are personal.

Cover photo by Danielle MacInnes on Unsplash