Kevin Fong - Organizational Design
  Reflections on Wave Jumping

During my vacation, I spent hours in the ocean where I created a new activity that I call wave jumping.  Instead of catching the wave at its crest and riding it into shore (as in surfing or boogie boarding), I would plunge into the wave and the resulting action would propel me toward the ocean like a rocket.  It was quite a thrill as I would sometimes be airborne two or three feet above the water before my inevitable splash back in the ocean.  But I learned from experience that the difference between a total thrill and a total wipeout depended upon four things: 1) preparing for and studying the environment; 2) strategic positioning; 3) timing; and 4) clear thinking.  
Before I entered the water, I carefully studied the wave patterns.  In the mornings there would be a series of gentle rolling waves followed by a succession of 7-10 big waves.  But the patterns would change through the course of the day, so it was important to reassess the environment every time I planned to enter the water.  Then I prepared myself to enter by putting on sunscreen and saying a little prayer for protection.
Once in the water, I needed to position myself in what I call “the safe zone,” the area beyond the breakers so I would not get hammered by the waves but close enough to shore so I could easily swim in if needed.  Within this zone, the best place to be was where I could still have my feet on the ocean floor so I could have the leverage to jump into the wave.  Maintaining my position involved constantly looking out toward the horizon at the waves and back to the shore to get perspective on my distance.  I also had to be nimble, since the current would naturally move me up shore.
Timing also had to be just right.  One second too soon and I would just bob over the wave.  One second too late and I’d be eating sand on the ocean floor.  But when the timing was right, the momentum of the wave would lift me off the ocean floor, sometimes by 6-7 feet, and propel me toward the horizon.
Finally, I had to be able to think clearly and quickly.  There were times when my positioning or timing was such that the best decision was to dive under and let the wave pass over me.  In other times, I could feel confident to meet the wave head on. 
These lessons in wave jumping can apply to our lives, especially if we are embarking on something unfamiliar – a new job or relationship, a capital campaign or strategic plan.  Study the cycles and patterns of the environment and make sure you are fully prepared and protected before entering.  Be strategic about your positioning and timing.  Always keep a cool and clear head. 

And when it all falls in place, you can expect a thrilling and successful ride.   

Elemental Partners is pleased to welcome Stan Yogi to our practice! Stan has over 20 years of experiences in fundraising and grantmaking, most recently as the Director of Planned GIving at the ACLU of Northern California.  Stan is the co-author of the award-winning book "Wherever There's a Fight: How Runaway Slaves, Suffragists, Immigrants, Strikers, and Poets Shaped Civil Liberties in California" (Heyday, 2009).   You can find out more about Stan and our other partners at our website: 

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