winning an award

"If you think I have a hard time receiving praise you should see how I deal with receiving criticism."

These were my opening remarks upon receiving the Extra Mile Partner award on behalf of Butterfly and Protegra. Windsor Park Collegiate is a small high school here in Winnipeg. Rather than describe the award and why it was given to us here is a picture of the write-up the students prepared.


What I want to do here is share some excerpts from my speech notes, as well as provide some additional comments that have come to me over the past 24 hours.

"We've been working with Windsor Park Collegiate almost from the start. From the early days of figuring out whether this platform and method would be useful for youth, to more recently where we were able to launch 3 amazing projects involving everybody in the program. Things like this don't happen without faith. Not spiritual or religious faith, but a faith that is, in my opinion, more difficult - a common bond and purpose between people who on the surface have different purposes."

<I would also extend these words to my colleagues at Protegra who have supported the development of Butterfly, and my own development, over this period and continue to do so. Without a workplace that shares your values and encourages failure and trying new things none of this can work. Many people don't work in places that give them this freedom. If you have it, appreciate it and try to spread it around. Part of why this bond is difficult is that it requires active trust between you and other people. It's difficult, sometimes feels impossible, and it is everything.>

"So how can things like this happen? It happens by being invited into people's lives and inviting them into yours. This is the principle underpinning Butterfly - that only through genuine empathy for the experience of others can our world be made better. There is no "you" without other people.

<This is fundamental.>

"What I also recognize, and I think everyone here knows this to one degree or another, is that the older we get, the number of paths open to us decreases. . .What we aim to do with Butterfly is open up some paths for people. Paths that aren't necessarily easy to see, or paths that are closed off."

<It also opens up paths for me and the other mentors who work on it. This point shouldn't be too quickly overlooked. What I have found is that working on these projects with young people has opened up new methods and new ways of thinking that have forever changed my life and my approach to work. The paths that can be opened are varied and numerous.>

"This doesn't happen without teachers. When I was growing up becoming a teacher was a career path to be avoided. Basically anything would be better than being a teacher. What I did not realize is that if you want to be a leader you have to be a teacher. You have to be able to help other people learn what they need to learn to be successful. I don't mean "leader" as someone with a title, or a hero, or someone who orders people around. I mean someone who is decent, who lives a good life - someone who is an example. Someone who shows us a way to live, a way to flourish. Teachers do this. The leaders worth following and becoming do this."

<Okay, I admit this might be a bit preachy but I think it's true. The leaders I've worked with and admire the most are those who have helped me learn.>

"I want to thank everyone who has helped build Butterfly over the past few years, most importantly the youth. You are all examples. Thank you."

<Thank You.>