BOB BUFORD is known for being the voice of a generation, a prolific author, speaker, and philanthropist whose immense and widespread contribution to business leadership, personal transformation, and the growth of the modern church cannot be measured. Bob’s book Halftime began a movement of an entire generation of successful business professionals transitioning to a LIFE OF EVEN GREATER SIGNIFICANCE and eventually to the creation of the Halftime Institute. Join us as we honor his legacy by exploring Bob Buford’s Top Ten Values over the course of the year.

“Build on Islands of Health and Strength.”

-Bob Buford (1939-2018)

By: Marsha Gordon, Halftime CertifiedTM Coach

From profession to passion. That’s how I would describe my Halftime journey. 

After leaving a successful life in corporate America, I took a chance and dove headfirst into a start-up international ministry project. It was a new project for a small ministry doing work in a small African village. Although we accomplished a lot and that ministry is still going, I knew that God was calling me to do something that had an exponential impact. I had a real desire to direct my energy towards something that had a long-term, sustainable and empowering effect on high-capacity leaders who would be able to make a significant difference. But how?

The idea of building upon “islands of health and strength” originally came from Bob Buford’s mentor, Peter Drucker. He introduced Bob to a concept focused on the segments of a community that are healthy enough to really impact change. If you dissipate your energy on cases that have limited capacity for impact then you don’t have as much inertia compared to working with organizations that are strong and healthy. 

This isn’t to say that small, local ministries aren’t incredibly important. They are. If God calls you to do something, obedience is never insignificant. But, if God calls you to have a leveraged impact, it is important to figure out a strategy for living that out in a real way.

For me, I knew that I wanted to be part of something that would ripple far beyond me but I wrestled with the next steps. Would I start a non-profit on my own? Would I join the work of an existing organization? This is where the concept of building upon health and strength emerged. I knew I wanted to be a part of something big and thus my search began for organizations that were thriving, making a leveraged impact, and utilizing a global network of friends with varied skills and passions. Through my coach , I was connected with Dale Dawson of Bridge2Rwanda and found the healthy and effective organization that I had been seeking! I went on a low-cost probe trip to Rwanda and knew this was an organization where I could have impact on an entire country — continent, even! — by empowering young leaders. Bingo.

Below are 3 Key Benefits to Building Upon “Islands of Health and Strength” that may help you on your own journey:

From L to R: Dale Dawson, Marsha Gordon, John Ramstead. Halftimers on a trip to Rwanda, exploring opportunities for impact together!

Bridge2Rwanda Scholars representing just a few of the universities attended by young adults in the program.

3 Key Benefits to Building Upon “Islands of Health and Strength”

1. Building on Islands of Health and Strength Maximize and Sustain Change.

A trap that some people fall into is the idea of “making it happen” with pure grit. They’re after the “start-up thrill” and while there’s nothing wrong with that, we should be aware that sometimes the most impact can happen when we partner with others on the journey. 

I think of this like heli-skiing. You could either trek up a mountain with skis on your back OR you could be quickly dropped in via helicopter at the top and ski down. When you start something new, it can be like struggling up a mountain with all your gear and equipment. You may eventually get to the top, but it will take a lot more time and effort and, for me, I prefer the head start and the freedom to enjoy the ride.

I’ve seen this time and time again through my work with Bridge2Rwanda (B2R). The B2R team is dedicated to building a life-long Fellowship of high-capacity, African leaders to accelerate the growth of their countries and transform the lives of others. Through the B2R Leadership Academy and The BRIDGE Career Services Group, nearly 300 of Africa’s brightest students have won over $60M in full ride scholarships to the most prestigious universities in the US. As these Scholars graduate and return to their countries they become the next generation of high-capacity CEOs, business leaders and world-changers. At the same time, the BRIDGE is creating sustainable impact by connecting employers to this impressive group thus creating opportunities for Africa’s young talent to return home and use their skills, experience and passion to embrace the continent’s greatest challenges.

2. Building on Islands of Health and Strength Increase Your Speed to Impact. 

After being connected with the global network of friends that Bridge2Rwanda engages, I can’t imagine starting something on my own. Picking a location, accumulating funding and mapping out a plan would have taken valuable time. And it would have taken years to iron out the details of starting an organization from scratch. There is value in gleaning wisdom from those who have gone before you and have already “paid the dumb tax” associated with inexperience. 

Through talking with a Halftime Coach, I was connected to some Halftimers who were already doing the kind of work to which I felt called. I leaned into the process and, on my low-cost probe to Rwanda, saw and explored the efforts that were already in motion. God was already at work…I just needed to join Him. I cannot recommend enough the benefit of participating in low-cost probes! This is an effective way to meet and work with an organization to discern where God may be leading you. This will reduce the time and pain of committing too early to an organization that isn’t the best fit. And, as my friend and colleague, John Leffin, shared recently, low-cost probes help protect the expectations of all involved.

3. Building on Islands of Health and Strength Give You Freedom to Operate In Your Sweet Spot.

The larger and healthier the organization, the more space there is to plug into your specific sweet spot. Instead of spreading yourself thin by wearing a multitude of hats, it may be helpful to look for a setting where you can utilize your unique strengths and passions.  

I am a maximizer. I have a passion for helping others realize their potential and getting them connected to opportunities where they can live out that potential. For me, B2R fits like a perfect puzzle piece. I get to use my unique talents and witness the best and the brightest college students creating ripple effects in their communities. The truth is, each one of the B2R students are islands of health and strength in their own right, but Rosine’s story is a favorite of mine. 

Rosine is a mighty force who graduated in 2018 from Babson College with a degree in Accounting & Entrepreneurship. Instead of accepting a well-paying offer to stay and work in the United States, Rosine returned home, studied agribusiness, and is now working to improve the agriculture sector for the entire country of Rwanda. Working for Bridge2Rwanda, Rosine runs demo farms and training centers in conjunction with Foundations for Farming, the Department of Agriculture, and the University of Rwanda. By farming in this way, she can increase yields 4-6x. Talk about a leveraged impact! Her work will impact thousands of local farmers who, by learning these techniques, can feed their families and earn a living all while learning about stewardship of the land God has provided. 

Dale Dawson, B2R Founder and Halftime Institute Board Member, once told me “What you do in your second half should be as easy as breathing.” I can say that by plugging into the Islands of Health and Strength I’ve found, it is as easy as breathing for me and brings more joy than I can express. You can check out this article featuring Dale for more thoughts on achieving exponential impact like this.

Whether it’s working with a ministry in Africa, or engaging right in your own neighborhood, there is great benefit in partnering with others to live out your calling of making a difference for good. So, how can you take the next step today?

If you’re not sure exactly what your strengths or passions are, or how to take that next step, we’d love to help you explore that with a Halftime Certified™ Coach. Learn how our programs can help equip you for impact.

Marsha Gordon
Marsha has a passion for developing and empowering leaders to discover their strengths, embrace their passions and connect with opportunities to change the world in their own unique ways. After earning a Ph.D. in Educational Psychology and Leadership Development, she spent 16 years in the educational technology space. After hearing God’s whisper that it was time to move on to a new adventure, she and her husband, Dale, became involved in The Halftime Institute and realized that significance in their “second half” was a journey that provided meaning and purpose.

Marsha is now serving as a Certified Halftime Coach where she walks alongside others as they discover all that God has in store for them. She believes that what we do in our second half should be as easy as breathing and that the very best is yet to come! For her, there is nothing more exciting than seeing someone discover their “sweet spot” of God’s purpose and plan.

She simultaneously serves on the board of a Halftime alumni organization, Bridge2Rwanda whose mission is to globally educate the brightest African students and return them home to Africa to start businesses and become Africa’s next generation of leaders. She is passionate about Rwanda’s unique potential to lead the African continent in business and economic development. She is constantly amazed at what God’s people can do when they join forces to empower a country…a continent…our world and experiences first-hand the power of “Business as Mission”.

In 2017, she and Dale made their escape from the Boston winters and moved to California. They now live in downtown San Diego where they can enjoy the beautiful weather, sailing and all things outdoors. Their 25 year old son, Chace, lives and works in New York City. In between trips to Africa, Marsha can often be seen walking in San Diego with her rescue dog, Daisy, going to and from Pilates or enjoying a lovely dinner with self-proclaimed “foodie” friends.