On Layering

by Kori Crockett Cofounder / CEO


One of the most important realizations I’ve had over the past few months: Trying to do everything at once just doesn’t work.

The struggle between my grand vision for Propeller Collective and the reality of bringing it to life is real. Going from zero to one is hard, and sometimes it feels even more challenging because I’m gaining the skills I need to lead this work as I go. One of the things I’ve struggled with the most is managing the numerous projects and tasks on my to do list. I often find myself thinking, “How am I going to get everything done?” and “I want it all done right now!”

I recently learned about a strategy that confronts this challenge head on: Layering.

Layering is when you decide on one goal, master it as a habit, then move on to your next goal and repeat the process. It’s a strategy that allows you to break down what needs to get done, one thing at a time. Can it really be that simple? Yes!

When we want to build new rituals and habits in life, so many times we think “I’m going to completely overhaul my routine, wake up at 5 A.M., jog for an hour everyday, and eat super healthy for every meal!” Then we go all in and we fail. What we fail to consider is that even getting up at 5 A.M. - when your current wake up time is 7 A.M. - will require a regimented action plan over a couple weeks if you want the change to last. You first have to wake up at 6:45 A.M., then 6:30 A.M., and so on.  For lasting change, your focus needs to be on adding one habit (or one layer) at a time. When it comes to Propeller Collective, my focus needs to be on layering one thing at a time rather than trying to do everything at once. Through layering, I can build a strong foundation of programming, structures and processes from which we can continue to grow as an organization.

Similarly, horticulturalists use a practice of “layering” for plant propagation (i.e. growing new plants from one existing plant). A stem or branch from the parent plant is covered in soil and tacked down to the ground while it begins to grow roots. Once the roots are strong enough, the connection with the parent plant is severed and the new plant stands on its own. The biggest advantage of this process is that the new plant continues to receive nutrients from the parent plant while it forms its own roots. In many ways, the growth of Propeller Collective mirrors this process in nature. I am like the parent plant, intentionally planting branches that will grow their own roots over time. This is true for every aspect of the organization, from my students as they grow in their leadership to relationships with people who will help bring this vision to life. Eventually we’ll have a forest of flourishing trees, all connected by a nourishing underground root system; the collective.

To layering.

Week of June 17, 2019 in Summary

Big progress made this week: Strategic planning for 2019-20. Our fiscal and program year kicks off July 1.

Failure of the week: Not getting the end of year survey out. This will be priority the week of June 24.

Organizational updates: Anitta Machanickal re-joined our team as Managing Editor of online content! This is her second internship with us, and a big step up in responsibility from summer 2017.

Current challenge: Storytelling! How to communicate about our work in a way that resonates with people who are not from low-income and first-generation to college backgrounds.

Grateful for: The thoughtfulness our student leaders have for their peers AND the student leaders and supporters who joined my communications brainstorm this week :D #bystudentsforstudents


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