Image Description: Eleven staff members from the Epilepsy Foundation of Michigan, standing together, posing, and smiling in front of a white wall. There framed quotes hanging on the wall. Many of the people are wearing purple, the color of Epilepsy Awareness. I am in the front row, second person on the left. My purple shirt has white writing which reads, “Epilepsy can affect anyone with a brain; Any one with a brain can affect epilepsy.”
“Have you ever had a thought you didn’t think?”
A wise friend named Bobbie Sanders once shared this question with me more than a decade ago. Her wording has always stuck with me. She meant this: Have you ever had an insightful thought rise up within you unexpectedly, perhaps bubbling up from your intuition? One that just suddenly shows up? A thought that wasn’t a part of your logical, cognitive process?
One year ago last November, I had this kind of experience.
I had the occasion to meet Kurt Eichenwald (which is a great story in and of itself). He invited me to meet with him at the Epilepsy Foundation of Michigan office. I had never been there before, but when I walked in to meet him, I was met with the unforgettable warmth and welcome of the Epilepsy Foundation of Michigan staff.
In the moment, this simple welcome had a big impact on me. I sat down at a table where Kurt was signing books for the staff, and I thought, “I’ve never had a community around my epilepsy experience before. . .” I knew I liked this.
But that’s when I had a thought I didn’t think:
You should work here.
Um… what? I wasn’t expecting that.
You should work here.
My time with Kurt Eichenwald was really meaningful. But this thought would be the longer lasting impact of that day. I had never done non-profit work or formal work in healthcare, chronic illness, and disability advocacy. This would be very new, I realized. But it sat with me. For months, I just held onto this thought I didn’t think.
Then four months later in February, I saw that the Epilepsy Foundation of Michigan was having an Open House. This was an occasion for people to come to the office, meet the staff members, and learn about the programs and services that the organization provides.
“I’m going to go to this, and even though there’s no job opening, I’m going to treat this like a job interview,” I told myself and also a few people close to me. And that’s what I did. I spent time with staff member after staff member. I asked them what makes this work important to them, and multiple conversations turned into brainstorming sessions of new ideas on the spot. I left that evening feeling very energized.
And then, four months later, I received an email from staff members, asking if I could come speak to them about the possibility of doing some contract work with the Epilepsy Foundation of Michigan. We had that conversation, and wholeheartedly, I said yes.
I had followed that gut instinct — that thought I didn’t think — and well… here I am.
Two weeks ago, we held another Open House event, and it was structured just like that event last February. The Epilepsy Foundation of Michigan sent out an email invitation to the listserv, inviting people around the state to come to the event. I also received that invitation in my inbox. When I opened it, this staff photo was at the top. When I saw it, I was floored by it. I felt awe and gratitude.
There I am with this staff… I’m on this team for the next Open House. Incredible.
I’m glad I heard (quite unexpectedly, I might add!) that thought I didn’t think, and I’m glad I leaned in its direction. You just never know how intuition can guide us.
So are you in relationship with a thought you didn’t think? What if… you let it lead you?