I call myself a grant writer. It’s written all over my professional bio. It has also given me two essentials truth to living: humility and humanity. By humility, I think of grantwriting as a journey into becoming fearless with failing. If today’s questions like how might we end a global pandemic or persistent public health issues with equally devastating disparities is burrow deeply in your mind, then a viable alternative is how can we become the vehicles through which we bring change. And in the course of change, how do we become fearless with failure. Grant writers have a monumental responsibility to bring healing , while also becoming prepared to fail. Many say there is an art to grant writing. I agree. But almost all roads lead to one or two or in my case more than 24 unfunded grants.
Yet still, I have learnt to value each failure as they occur. It’s the deep sighting necessary for the journey to becoming a grant writer, one where humility is key. I am not afraid to fail. I realize that the ideas I have may be ambitious, but I am willing to tell the story again. In fact I am compelled to write a new version of the story because humanity desperately needs ideas that last. By humanity, I think of grantwriting as a journey in service of others. If I am lucky, to create programs that last, lucky to tell the story of why sustainability matters, lucky to give the best of my ideas to the world, lucky to bring healing to people, many I may never meet, then I will forever be committed to ensuring that they attain their highest rights to health. Grant writing cuts in both directions for me, one that I will always remain patient as my story continues to unfold. Do I have all the answers? No. But humanity deserves those that committed to telling the story for however long it takes. I am prepared for the journey.
Perhaps the greatest gift grant writing has given to me is a never ending desire to learn. I am always in awe of the depth of learning that occurs with each grant I write. I come out of the process with each grant, changed even though the journey was emotional. I trust the tensions they allow, something I recently learnt as part of altMBA. The failures are uncomfortable and can be disheartening given all the agony and effort that goes into a grant. But it’s journey of going again, writing another grant, learning once more why this story matters, for whom and how it will unfold, whether I succeed or fail, that keeps me alert. The serenity I get once the story starts to unfold cannot be fully put to words. And it’s the mystery of that story, the way it would be framed, with nothing to hide, that makes this process a joyful one for me. The true destination of grants and their writing of them is life. I live my best life whenever I write new grants. They have changed my life and continue to transform it into higher possibilities.
I’m on the journey again with humility and humanity as my guide. I am preparing to also take wings and soar with this one. It really feels good, the writing of it. I have spent over a month many sense of one page, the most critical aims page, something I call a purple cow. I have draft version one. My colleagues pushed me. I drafted version 2 and shared with them yesterday. They will review on Monday. What they don’t know is yet is that I’m on version 3. I already see the problems with version 2 that they haven’t even reviewed and I have moved on. The journey continues to unfold. I woke up this morning ready to blog hear but the story for the grant kept haunting me. So I spent my morning trying to make sense of my Why for this grant. I almost missed church but I get it know. I can see things clearly now. Hence version 3. Will I fail? Yes. But I also realize these days that each grant chooses me so that I can serve humanity even if I fail. I have been chosen for the journey. I am prepared to move in whatever direction it takes. I am also keeping this one here because I can’t wait to share how grants continue to help me rewrite my life story. Until then, keep humility and humanity with grantwriting.