Recently, I’ve been taking a social innovations class at BYU-I where we are encouraged to keep a journal of what we learn each week. Welcome to entry four of said journal. I’ll be using Joseph Campbell’s theory of The Hero’s Journey as a framework for my posts, each week will be a different stage.

On ‘Supernatural Aid’
The Hero’s Journey stage of receiving supernatural aid, isn’t as strange as you might think. To put it simply as described on Wikipedia:

“Once the hero has committed to the quest, consciously or unconsciously, his guide and magical helper appears or becomes known. More often than not, this supernatural mentor will present the hero with one or more talismans or artifacts that will aid him later in his quest.” (Wikipedia Hero’s Journey)

lightsabor 1

While that gives a good base for understanding this stage, Joseph Campbell’s own words provide a bit more clarity and hint at an application in our own lives.

“One has only to know and trust, and the ageless guardians will appear. Having responded to his own call, and continuing to follow courageously as the consequences unfold, the hero finds all the forces of the unconscious at his side. Mother Nature herself supports the mighty task. And in so far as the hero’s act coincides with that for which his society is ready, he seems to ride on the great rhythm of the historical process.” – Joseph Campbell

When you look at the stages leading up to this, I find it really interesting how, once we finally get past the fear of not being able to succeed, we are given help. Heavenly Father waits for us to first accept the call in word and in heart, before he pours upon us the Heavenly help and guidance we need to achieve the mission he has called us to. Yet, even when we know that that help is waiting, it is still so very difficult to take that leap into the darkness and trust that we will be caught. In the end, when we do leap, it’s not trust we are feeling as we fall but with our teeth gritted, our hearts in our throat, and our eyes shut tight that we hope. We hope, and we plead, and we pray, and hope some more. Sometimes we fall longer than others but in the end we are given the aid we need. Our Heavenly Father places tools, people, mentors even as He Himself is a mentor, into our paths to help us along. He goes before us, preparing His people for our impact and influence.

haymitch 2

On Coping and Dragons
In class we talked about how this work of healing, helping, and hoping takes its toll on us. In this work, we will come away wounded from battle at times. We will have to persevere through watching-and living,-experiences that are heartbreaking. We will have our low points, even with the supernatural aid we are promised. This is where we must do our parts to anticipate the hardship with hope and put in place tools that will help us cope, and will enable us to reach the comfort, and aid, in store for us. Whether it be journaling, crafting, meditation, crocheting, or guest panelist Kimber Tower’s running on her beloved treadmill named Thor, we need to put in place protocol for when the weight of the adventure seems too much for us to carry. As Mrs. Tower talked about, there may be times where we are what is standing between the monsters (or the dragons) and the weak. I can promise, that we won’t be standing alone. We will be given aid, and we must anticipate this and use our tools to ground us at times as well.

hobit

In class we also talked about the need to have a very specific goal of the impact we are trying to make. Whether it be to make the most inspiring radio show in a town of 1,500 people or to end hunger by creating _______ solution or with _______ method in a particular country, we need to have a specific goal of the adventure we are striving to accomplish. If we don’t, it will be easy to become lost and in moments of discouragement, even more overwhelmed. We also talked about gathering a support group and compiling a group of mentors for those moments when we feel lost. The support group acts as the aid we need to cope with the adventure, and the mentors are something to aspire to, to find guidance from and to strive to be like. When you look at our favorite stories you see that the hero often has at least one mentor to guide him as he struggles along the path. Our heroes are not left alone and abandoned to achieve their mission, they are given a guide to help them. It is important that we find those guides and mentors-whether through study or personal relationship- to help us accomplish our missions.

professor x

Is it worth the money and resources to accurately measure impact for a nonprofit organization?

Well, is it worth the potential waste of money and resources not to? That’s the first thing that comes to mind when I look at this question. You see, it not enough simply to make an impact, or to answer the call to adventure, we have to make sure that we are on track to achieving the impact we set out to achieve. Not measuring impact is like going on an adventure without a map, compass, or identifying landmarks. How do we know if we are actually making the difference or making the progress we need to make? Not only that, but if we spend five extra days wandering around in the woods because we are on the wrong path and just don’t know it, that means we are eating up provisions and that is five days of resources that were wasted on the wrong road.

supernatural aid

 

In that case, how can you be sure that the solution an organization is providing is truly accomplishing its goals?

In class, and in our reading, we talked about ways to measure the success of a non-profit organization. In the article Getting Results: Outputs, Outcomes, and Impact by Sean Stannard-Stockton published in the Stanford Social Innovation Review it lists these three areas to assess that forms  a way of measuring these kinds of organizations:

  • Outputs: These are the activities done by the nonprofit. The meals served by a soup kitchen are outputs.
  • Outcomes: These are the observed effects of the outputs on the beneficiaries of the nonprofit. The degree to which the meals served by the soup kitchen reduce hunger in the population served by the soup kitchen.
  • Impact: This is the degree to which the outcomes observed by a nonprofit are attributable to its activities. The impact of the soup kitchen is the degree to which a reduction of hunger in the population they serve is attributable to its efforts. While a soup kitchen might serve a lot of meals and correctly observe that hunger is subsequently less prevalent in the population it serves, the reduction in hunger might simply be attributable to an improving economy, or a new school lunch program or some other activities that are not part of the soup kitchen’s efforts. (Read more here)

haymitch

As we assess each of these areas within our organization we can see if we are making the actual impact we are striving to make. See, we will always be making an impact, but the question we have to constantly ask ourselves-even the question our hero’s must also ask themselves-is are we making the impact we have set out to make? We can’t walk blindly and throw a bunch of effort at a problem and hope that whatever we are doing is solving the actual problem we are trying to solve. We can’t make goals, without assessing the success of what we are doing to achieve those goals.  In the end, measuring our impact is one of those tools that every adventurer needs. It’s the magic wand, or the lightsaber.  We can’t succeed without measuring our impact.

On receiving supernatural aid
In closing, sometimes it is us who stands in the way of receiving the aid we need. Sometimes, much like refusing the call, we refuse the help we need as well. I plead with you not to do that. In the errand of angels, we can’t refuse their help. Don’t just be the help, receive it as well.

Sending my love,

– Cheyenne