Blog by Lizzie Honan, RevJen’s Regional Director of New York City

I love people. I thrive when I connect with a wide spectrum of people, whether it’s my friends, my professional network, or the strangers I pass while walking my dog around the block. I talk to everyone!  Well, what I really should say is, I talk to everyone when I’m out of my house and intentionally engaging with others. However, working remotely has reduced some of those forced connectivity points. Now, I have to intentionally seek out interaction and conversation – and my introvert-side has really blossomed.  

I Can Do It Myself!  

This shift in mindset has caused me to reflect on one of my lifelong characteristics – the feeling that ‘I can do this by myself’ - which I have purportedly been saying since I was a toddler (and the youngest in the family). I am smart and capable and forever eager to do it myself (ask anyone who’s experienced my enormous satisfaction from assembling Ikea furniture solo).

I recall this feeling really taking root in my previous roles leading development departments. It occurred most often, ironically, when I was on the brink of complete overwhelm. Even today, I can so easily recall the feeling of staring down the rapidly approaching end of fiscal year deadlines while juggling the innumerable stressors of preparing a gala and trying to manage my team members’ anxieties. I often thought, quite arrogantly, that “I can do this alone” and that I could alleviate everyone else’s stress and just push ahead and take on more. Asking for help – often in the form of a conversation – always, always, always helped. And yet, my inner toddler seems to be a voice I am consistently resisting.  

I realize that with remote work, what I miss the most is the casual problem-solving, brainstorming, and perspective re-setting that occurs in shared spaces and in group settings. I can’t – and shouldn’t – do it by myself. I need to connect. I need diverse perspectives, casual thought partnership, new energy, holes poked into my train of thought. Collaborative thinking (whether it comes naturally to me or is forced) always leads to more creativity, more open, and refined thinking. 

I’m Not Alone  

Turns out, I’m not alone in this thinking. Leaders need to get out of their echo chambers and hear from other leaders. This is, in part, exactly what RevJen’s R-Squared Peer Groups provide. An ongoing space to intentionally break out of your routine, to connect and engage with other brilliant minds, to help problem-solve, gain insights, and stretch one’s thinking. The fact that R-Squared is an ongoing, scheduled commitment provides intentional moments to break routine.  

In fact, all our offerings really lean into this idea of collaborative learning and intentional engagement via cohort and team-based learning styles. It may not always be the most comfortable or natural choice, and it can require time that seems so scarce, but the ROI is often undeniable. Reduced isolation, clarity in decision-making, and more diverse perspectives all help to deepen and bolster individual thinking and can reduce bias. 

I’m excited to continue to build out our RevJen community and to deepen our impact on the sector. And I’m excited to do so in collaboration with our expanding network to ensure fresh perspectives, creativity, and inclusivity of nonprofit leaders and funders.  

I’d love to hear from  you. How do you connect for idea generation and to stay away from an “I can do it myself’ mindset?