INSPIRATION FOR YES

Patrick Gordon

Co-Founder & Executive Director

I grew up fascinated by discovery. 

 

Both of my parents are scientists, very intelligent as scientists go to say the least. I grew up learning, watching, seeing life through the lens of science. The stories of scientific discoveries intrigued my young mind, made an impression on me that I still remember today. 

 

In the modern world, we receive science at the end, when it works in the computer I am on right now or the device you are using to read this at the moment. At the beginning, scientists experiment. They go on what they feel, experimenting to confirm what they believe is possible. They follow the experiment and it’s repetitions, failures, successes, changes, until they find a process that works.  

 

Playing football [soccer] was the first experiment that gave me the joy of experiencing discovery firsthand. Repeating the experiment changed football from an activity into a passion - teaching lessons that I have promised a couple of former teammates we will record in a book one day. Here are a few always foremost in my mind:  

 

  1. The basis of learning how to do what you say you will do is consistent application to the task(s) at hand.

  2. Learn how to learn, as you learn as much as you can.

  3. Professionalism is pursuing the passion when you do not feel passionate about it.

  4. Always believe you have a chance to succeed no matter what the odds.

  5. Work smart, as hard as you possibly can.

  6. What you know and who you know, keep a healthy balance of both.

  7. The Humans in your team and how well they work together are more important than the idea.

  8. Culture, whether focused on or not, is created by the Leaders; culture defines the long term success of an organization.

  9. Old Proverb: “In a fight I would rather have one lion leading 100 goats, then 1 goat leading 100 lions.” No matter how innovative the idea or talented the team, Leadership matters.

  10. Collaboration is a more effective term than work or a job, it speaks to power dynamics and an important tenet in leadership — the best leaders know how to delegate power, empower others. One is just a trickle of water, many carries the power of a roaring wave.

  11. Framing and presentation are necessary to inspire participation, real value is needed to develop trust, trust leads to consistent engagement. If you have to choose, figure out the real value first, the proper framing and presentation inevitably comes with time [assuming you stick with it]. 

  12. Organization and Prioritization are critical to reaching any goal, focus on mastering them and be patient with the time it takes to learn to do both effectively. If you can then teach that mastery, build a culture with it, then you have greatly improved the chances of achieving your goal.

 

YES was not a dream of my own, it was something I was guided to during a conversation with a mentor in 2015. I got lucky, meaning preparation [in my control] meets opportunity [out of my control]. That luck provided me with an unique experience, one I could use to take luck out of the equation for other scholar-athletes from under-resourced backgrounds. If I held close to the lessons I had learned through football about discovery and experimentation, I had a chance to find a way to mentor under-resourced athletes to turn their dreams into reality.

 

Why does it matter? Why is it worth it? Why is it important? The simple truth is that I am not exceptional. There are many other scholar-athletes who can and will contribute to communities in inspiring ways, if provided guidance, support, and belief in themselves. 

 

Welcome to an Initiative that has unfolded from loving immigrant parents, consistent application, and healthy doses of luck at the right moments. Six years ago, when my mentor first told me I could build what is now YES, I did not imagine that was possible. I decided my opinion was just one opinion, and I said yes.

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