Ideas swim around in my head a lot. They kind of lurk there, roll around and get bigger and bigger, until I finally just have to act on them. Or – they get discarded or go to simmer on the back burner.
That’s sort of the case this week. I’ve had this idea that I wanted to share, but, seriously no actual time to share it… and it somehow just wasn’t coming together. And then, in my mail box is my February copy of SNA Magazine. The “Oh The Places You Will Go” cover & headline, captured my eye… and my attention. I have to be honest…. and many of you reading this will know what I am talking about… I didn’t have time to read the article associated with the cover photo, so I stuffed it in my bag for some quality reading on my way to #LAC18 later this week. So *disclaimer here* – I really have no idea what the article is really about… but the picture goes SO WELL with want I’ve been wanting to write about.
Earlier this fall, at the Northeast Regional Leadership Conference, I was inspired to hear the leadership story of several School Nutrition professionals from the New England area. I was struck by the impact of these personal stories and I really wanted to bring “Leadership Journey” stories back to my own state association, the Maine School Nutrition Association. I really was inspired by hearing about the career path that led to working in School Nutrition or why they got involved in their state association. The real stories that maybe you don’t always learn sitting across from someone in a meeting or conference.
I decided to start off our next Maine School Nutrition Association meeting with part of my own leadership story…. which I like to think of as “The Power of Yes”. I have worked in School Nutrition for over 20 years, but it wasn’t until about 5 years ago that I began embracing “The Power of Yes”. I like to say that my “NO” force field must have been up pretty high, because no one even asked me if I wanted to get involved in our state association, and to be honest… it for some reason never occurred to me. I suppose I was too busy to notice: busy with one district, then 2 districts, then a 3rd small one got added on… busy with life, family… you know what it’s like. But then… about 5 years ago… a friend reached out – burst through my NO force field – and asked. Would you consider running for president of Maine School Nutrition Association? Now to be honest, by this time I was sitting on the education committee of our board and was helping to plan conferences. But this was different. I don’t even know why, but I was inspired to do it. Many friends encouraged me. My husband did not. “Why would you want to add more to your plate?” he asked. And I really didn’t have a clear answer for that… except that I really had developed some vision – ideas – of what I thought could happen in Maine SNA, ideas that I thought needed sharing about how we were serving school meals in my district. Just those ideas… the ones that swim around in my head. And now, there was a crack in the NO force field.
The crack in the NO force field led me to start thinking about YES instead. And I made a conscious decision to start saying YES to opportunities that presented themselves, instead of automatically saying NO, to see where it would take me. So, I said YES when asked if I wanted to run for president of Maine SNA. Then, YES to being a lead mentor for the Institute of Child Nutrition and YES to presenting sessions at local, regional and national conferences. And I can honestly say it has been an incredible experience, making my School Nutrition experience so much richer, so much more enjoyable! I’ve met and collaborated with people from across the country, presented at conferences in places I’ve never been before. I’ve stretched and I’ve grown… and I’ve loved the experience. Has it always been easy and comfortable? No way! But the experiences have made me more well rounded, more knowledgeable, and I’ve expanded my horizons.
Change is good! Isn’t that what we are always telling our staff and the people that we work with? We expect that they will say YES instead of NO when we present them with an idea or a change or a new way of doing things. And so I challenge you to start considering saying YES … because you never know where it will take you!

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