“Success is not final. Failure is not fatal. It is the courage to continue that counts.”

I’m often reminded of this Churchill quote when in the midst of a new challenge. Trying something new can be daunting because it causes us to confront that internal voice that asks if we have what it takes. There is solid truth in Churchill’s words; one success does not lead to a life of success, just as one failure doesn’t ruin you forever. Choosing to continue to try, to be willing to fail, is what matters. A huge part of learning is understanding what does not work through making mistakes. Culturally, we tend to view mistakes as bad, but mistakes show us exactly where the problem is and what we need to focus on improving. They are a means to wisdom and success.

My name is Andrea (Drea) Thogmartin and I am the new Regional Network Coordinator for LIGHTS Regional Innovation. I’ve been working for LIGHTS just under 3 months and “drinking from a firehose” as they say, trying to learn and understand LIGHTS and the nonprofit world.

My background is in the for-profit industry, working with universities to manage and implement course materials and facilitating the use of a homegrown web-based platform. Though there are overlaps, (project management, software troubleshooting/training, process creation/implementation, metrics collection/analysis, CRM management) the ultimate goal and the mechanisms to facilitate success are very different.

It was intimidating taking on a position like this when my experience has been in a different industry, but what I’ve discovered is that LIGHTS and the Innovation Gateways are all about learning. Not only are they in the business of teaching and coaching, but they themselves are also working through challenges, learning from mistakes and improving their processes. In my role, I’ll be working with the internal LIGHTS team and the Gateways to implement systems and practices to bring us to the next level of organization. Through organization and process improvement, I hope to free up everyone’s time so they can focus on their community– helping individuals who want to start something new, learn something new, or create something new.

Learning is a lifelong practice. It’s the introduction to new things, to change. If there are new things to learn, new ways to change, new ideas to discover, then there is hope for the future. Whether you’re looking to start a new business, have an idea for a new product, want to learn a new skill, or just need to fix something that’s broken, LIGHTS and the Innovation Gateways help you figure out your next step, develop strategies for success, and provide perspective when you’re faced with failure. Have courage! Try a new thing, learn that new skill, pursue your dream, take that leap. We can help!