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© 2016 Opportunity Internationala 501(c)3 nonprofit.

Every moment show up stupid

By Lisa Leslie Henderson

Day 1: Opportunity International Philippines Insight Trip

I showed up very stupid this morning in a country that I hadn’t intended to visit last night.

Flight delays and missed connections due to electrical difficulties—our plane wouldn’t start—took us to Tokyo, rather than Manila, last night. When we arrived in our hotel room, sometime in the middle of the night and eager for a hot shower, I couldn’t figure out how to coordinate the three knobs to turn the water on; after figuring it out, I couldn’t remember how to turn it off again. This morning I gulped down sake at breakfast thinking it was sparkling water. Yep, I showed up stupid…multiple times in fact.

Some wise person once said, “Every moment, show up stupid.” I love that quote—and not because of days like today, or because I am a fan of foolishness in general. Rather, I believe that whoever originally spoke those words was encouraging us to show up curious, wherever we are, and pay attention. To fight against “psychoschlerosis,” or the hardening of the attitudes, and against the kind of “knowing” that keeps us from “seeing.”

At the kick-off dinner this evening, it became clear that everyone had shown up for this insight trip stupid, in the best sense of the word. We introduced ourselves and spoke briefly about why we had traveled this distance to participate in this insight trip at this particular time. Myriad reasons were given, including: wanting to learn about poverty firsthand and gain insight into how poverty is similar and different across regions of the world, getting a reminder about how we can make a difference, experiencing how microenterprise is lifting families and changing lives, understanding how insurance products developed by OI are benefiting microentrepreneurs, tasting the Philippines—her people and culture— and meeting interesting people, and celebrating a 50th birthday, knowing that this trip would set a different tone for the next fifty years of this woman’s life.

In addition to showing up stupid, I hope to remember to consider the following* often during this trip:

  1. This is what I thought….
  2. This is what I learned….
  3. This is what I am doing next…
  4. This is what I’m keeping in mind…

Here are my answers for this evening:

  1. As we drove through the streets of Manila today, seeing slum villages to our left and our right, I thought, “I wonder if this trip is going to exhaust me completely.” (Mind you I was already a wee bit tired from our travels.)
  2. As the college students performed so animatedly and enthusiastically for us, I learned that in the midst of poverty, Opportunity International is bringing real hope and opportunity (the students’ parents were all Opportunity International loan recipients and these students had won college scholarships through the APPEND Program and the Smith Foundation).
  3. This is what I am doing next: going to bed.
  4. This is what I am keeping in mind: There is much to be learned here.


*Ponderings borrowed from Steve Blank, entrepreneur and creator of Lean LaunchPad

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