A Soliloquy by Executive Director Paige Edmiston
In the last few weeks, Sidekick staffers have stepped back from their day-to-day tasks to think more deeply. We wanted to move beyond our everyday, on-your-feet thinking and engage in the deliberate, soul-searching kind of thinking that Superman returns to the Fortress of Solitude for - the thinking necessary for big ideas.*
On-your-feet thinking is the brain’s equivalent to autopilot. It’s the thinking we rely on when there’s a mountain of work waiting to greet us in the morning. Rather than deconstructing and reevaluating, we stick to the prescribed path in order to keep things moving.
Sometimes, though, we need something more. We need to stop and step back. Then, think deeply. Think critically. Think creatively.
So, that’s what we did. We took time to evaluate our first six months of existence. We clarified our mission and vision. We tweaked our strategy to better align with our goals. And we further imagined an exciting future where superheroes are real.
The funny thing about this deep, critical, and creative kind of thinking is that it can provide you with amazing moments of clarity, and it can make your autopilot thinking even more effective. As this is a soliloquy, I'd like to share some of these moments of clarity (with no one in particular, but if you’re reading this, great!):
1. We believe in the power of young people to change schools, communities, and even the world. When it’s all said and done, this is why my fellow Sidekicks and I spend early mornings, late evenings, and weekends doing what we do. We are unbelievably fortunate to be in the business of finding, celebrating, and investing in the next generation of real-world superheroes.
2. It’s important to focus on foundations. Like Ricky Bobby, I wanna go fast. But before you race cars, you must first learn how to drive. So before taking the next big jump, I want to make sure that our core foundation is able to support the exciting plans we have for the future. (My sincerest apologies for the Will Ferrell reference. I couldn’t help myself.)
3. Never forget your roots. This organization began as an essay about superheroes, written by my 17-year old self. Its words came to life - superheroes came to life - when a group of seemingly ordinary high school students in my hometown proved to be utterly extraordinary. The selfless and courageous leadership they demonstrated during a campaign to rebuild their high school - a school they would never attend - was the spark that brought The Sidekick Collective to life.
4. Vision can be passion. Staying true to our roots, The Sidekick Collective's mission is to identify, recognize and invest in truly heroic young people who are making the world a better place through innovative political or nonpolitical civic engagement.
We believe this mission can one day bring about our vision of a world where engaging with one's community to bring about positive change is second nature to young Americans. We dream of a world where the next generation, rather than feeling disillusioned and discouraged by politics, feels empowered to make big change through local, grassroots movements.
When I take the time to remember this vision, the mountain of work doesn't seem so big; early mornings are welcomed with a smile; and I feel an immense gratitude for the small role I may be able to play in allowing the next generation of real life superheroes achieve its full potential - and one day even save the world.
*Some really smart people have discussed these two different ways of thinking, including Nobel Prize winner Daniel Kahneman. I highly recommend reading Kahneman’s Thinking, Fast and Slow if you’re interested in this topic.