“Some people don’t just live: they lead a life. They don’t sit around waiting for a lucky break. They create opportunities. They go after their dreams and bring them to life… They develop a vision of the good life, devise a plan for how to attain it, go for it, and check their progress along the way. As with any great effort, their work is never done but ever-evolving and, often, inspiring to those around them. Welcome to the territory of life entrepreneurs.” – Excerpt from Life Entrepreneurs
Usually, I pride myself on my ability to succeed at work, lead in a local non-profit, and volunteer as a weekend HIV counselor. For one Saturday and Sunday in January, though, I did something else. Instead of being at a clinic, I joined my 16 other NLCSV fellows cohort members at Microsoft’s Silicon Valley Campus for a two-day session on life entrepreneurship.
Being at the start of my career, I do see much to gain from goal planning and achieving now for a greater tomorrow. The first session began by allowing me to create a vision and develop a plan. I even explored my life’s map, acknowledging the influence past events can have on the future. Interestingly, I was also asked to take stock of my strengths and values and identify my passions and purpose to gain a greater understanding of myself. Ultimately, I had an increased sense of a direction that was right for me. I began to take my drive for building an integrated life as seriously as I was building my career. For that reason, I couldn’t help but feel like I was in a perfect moment.
Then came my favorite thing about the session: I got to candidly share with my cohort what I envisioned as a good life and found out what they thought. My mind was blown. Sitting in a circle, they not only engaged with my ideas and view of the world so thoughtfully but also asked, “How can I help you?” Everyone wanted to help me take the next steps and see me succeed. I felt part of an incredibly supportive community.
Now, I have benefited from similar situations before, but this NLCSV Institute is certainly a supportive environment for entrepreneurship and social change. Besides a safe space where everyone can be vulnerable, it is a place to amplify our reach on issues often overlooked such as agender awareness. NLC acts as a progressive platform in our community that moves others past talking to action for social impact.
Recalling the wonders of this past weekend, including San Jose City Councilmember Ash Kalra’s remarks on progressives needing to effect change at the grassroots level to educate on complicated matters, I feel greatly inspired to continue the fellowship. From my fellow friends to the growing alumni group and volunteer base, I am on a shared journey with an encouraging NLC network that keeps me accountable, focused on living a life of significance, and illuminates a positive future.
Manny Castro is Remote Care Coordinator for HELP Practice Management and a member of the NLCSV Class of 2014, which returns for its second NLC Institute session this weekend (Feb. 15-16).