When did the doors to your Institute open and what’s been your biggest challenge so far?
November 11 2019 we opened online with 12 courses. We see challenges as opportunities to grow and shape where illli.org needs to grow and will evolve. Like a newborn baby, we are learning to walk and maybe we are too young to even have experienced our greatest challenges yet. Using the analogy of a newborn, we are still adapting to our newness, the response from the world, our growth, and the expansion is coming and more is still to come. Each seeming challenge is showing us the way and where we need to go next.
We face the same business challenge you face-you can have the best product and ideas but need marketing and need to let the world know we are here. We are thankful for the support and power of the Bizcatalyst platform to launch us further into a larger world audience.
We also know that sometimes struggles are exactly what we need in our lives. If we were to go through life without any obstacles we would be as the story goes like an eagle hanging out in a chicken fence. Our obstacles make us strong and challenge us to look at an issue in a different way. For example within a year since we began our technologies have already shifted and changed how we create courses. We are able to incorporate more courses into our library of offerings by empowering faculty to videotape their own courses. Faculty can be located anywhere in the world without having to come in-house to create a video with us on our campus.
Our belief is as we move forward to perceive every challenge as an opportunity to change, leave no room for regrets, and remind ourselves constantly that the learning and spiritual growth is in the challenge.
Any noteworthy surprises or ‘A-ha’ Moments along the way?
Creating an online university for Difference Makers that was not like any other online university out there was our intent but how many times we laughed as we found ourselves returning to old paradigms of education. We daily remind ourselves we have no rules and no boxes. Sometimes we have to daily remind ourselves (and now as more people are coming into the organization) that we stay open to new ideas, new ways of growing, and evolve organically as an organization. I would say the biggest “a-ha” for me is always trusting that the right person will fill a role and timing —synchronicities of the right person showing up like Dr. Aileen showed up in my office and I recognized the sign from the Universe and knew it was time to co-create illli.org.
How would you describe your typical day?
Staying present in each task and with each individual I come into contact with is my typical day.
Since creating illli.org we are guided by our mission to activate our soul’s mission to open the heart of the world. My daily guide has been deeper listening to self. I ask myself, “Is my heart open?” Each day it is my intent to model my heart open with every letter, e-mail, and text that I send out. Staying present in each task and with each individual I come into contact with is my typical day. I do not see my day as “I just need to get through this” but rather I go from moment to moment being present. I see each day as an opportunity to move consciousness forward and since life does not go backward, I wake up each day with the opportunity to get in touch with the possibilities of how I can begin to honor who we are right now.
Yes, my day is full and I remind myself, “I am blessed to experience the opening of the hearts of others.” I spend a lot of time on Zoom forming new relationships with new potential faculty at illli.org, meeting with illli.org leadership team while still leading my First Unity Spiritual Campus, and taking care of the spiritual needs of my congregants. My typical day is easily scheduled over 10-12 hours but I see my work as part of me and never a chore to be completed. This is my soul love and my life.
What about your “social impact/outcomes?”
Our mission and vision to activate the soul’s mission to open the heart of the world is what illli.org and my life’s work is all about.
I am not seeking a world that people declare needs to change. I am longing for people to open their hearts so they may experience the heart of the world.
We are making progress and we want to continue. Don’t ask, “How do I change the world as a difference-maker?” Declare “I am a Difference Maker; it’s time for me to open my heart so I may express the true heart of the world.” That is the social impact I want to make in the world with illli.org.
What’s the next big thing/challenge for illli.org?
Our expansion is our next big focus moving forward. How we grow as an organization (while staying dedicated to our guiding principles) and not sway off course to rush growth and fit into another educational model is critical. We also want to avoid a “bottleneck” structure where our Leadership Team members, I, and the Dean of Education, in our splurges of growth, are not overextended. We want to keep ourselves from martyrdom and have a keen awareness about delegating responsibilities, empowering others to step into new roles, and teach and model for others to assume greater responsibility as illli.org grows and expands.
Following the leadership model of growing leaders and creating not a new university built upon a tradition but rather built on a tried and tested experience of building First Unity for the past 15 years is important for us too.
I do not have to be a leader in constant control but delegating more and using a team to do the work they need to do. I live by my own words, “Every decision in everyday life either raises us up energetically or lowers our vibration.” My challenge to myself is to ensure I am doing the work that is mine to do and the work that gives me the most joy and keeps my vision open without becoming mired in the details that others around me are better skilled to do. I call this staying in my sphere of excellence without micromanaging others.
As a credentialed professional and entrepreneur, what’s non-negotiable for you?
Congruency and walking the talk is non-negotiable for me. Do what you say and follow-through. The second non-negotiable for me is what I term “Being full of myself rather than being spirit-filled.” I remind myself that I am serving humanity and this idea of illli.org that came through me is not mine. I am careful with “I” language and know that it is everyone from the very beginning from Faculty, to Web design team, to videographer, to Leadership Council Board member, to students who are making and will continue to make illli.org a success.
How can our readers learn more about/explore opportunities with your Institute?
Go to our website at illli.org and read our mission and vision. Learn more about our leadership team and faculty. Check out our course offerings, there is a free preview video clip with each course. If you are drawn to our mission and vision consider becoming a faculty member with illli.org. Join our prestigious rank of existing faculty and publish both your course and write a blog piece for us. Check our presence on BIZCATALYST 360° and www.firstunity.org.
BONUS QUESTION: What’s something interesting that most people wouldn’t know about you?
My calendar does not own me, I own my time— I do not use the word “busy.” I own my calendar. If there is too much on my calendar, then I take responsibility for what comes from this and cannot blame or complain that I have too much to do. I am extremely committed to the open-heartedness of the world and will stop during any project to save an animal, help a child, or any action which in one simple act can make a difference.
I would rather Live the book I am writing rather than never living as I write the book.
In my humble opinion, too many leaders today are quick to teach yet not so quick to realize they are also a student of life. The learning is ongoing.