Three Things I Learned While Living in the Jungle


(After graduating college, I went on a three-month mission trip to the jungle of Costa Rica. While there I taught basketball to people who had never even heard of it before, preached at a local house church, organized community events and built houses.)

If you have been following along with my NTCUE journey, then you have been able to see and learn about what FLIP (Future Leaders in Innovation Program) is, but I wanted to give you a little insight into my CU path, what I learned about innovation along the way, and why I believe FLIP is an essential tool to make an impact on the CU industry.

Passion is the Catalyst to Change


When you love what you do, it creates a desire to make an impact. My passion for the people in Costa Rica is what motivated me to give up my time, possessions and money for a short time, to improve their lives. That same passion for helping people is what made my first CU “job”, turn into a career.  I have a desire and passion to make a change and I want to try to help ignite that in others. When we have a passion to help our members, our focus switches away from product and technology obsession and turns into member obsession. Some people believe innovation is about inventing, but in reality, it is simply finding better ways to serve our members and improve their financial lives.

Adaptability is Key


I learned this lesson during my time building houses. Now building houses wasn’t quite the same as it is here in the US. I didn’t have a local store I could go to get the needed supplies. Instead, my “trip to the hardware store” consisted of a few hour hike into the jungle to cut down a tree (like the one pictured above), cut it into posts, and carry it on your back, back down the mountain. After doing this for a few days, I ended up with 2 herniated discs, a slipped disc, and a pinched sciatic nerve. The nearest hospital was 4 hours away, and I still had a month left in my trip. I had two options, quit and go home, or overcome my obstacle and continue to make an impact on the community. I chose the latter, and although my injury prevented me from building houses, playing sports, etc., it opened the opportunity for me to make an impact in other ways, through relationships, planning, preaching and teaching. It is easy to fall into the trap of the “way we’ve always done it” mentality, or hit a road block and give up, but when you strive to adapt and grow you will see a shift in culture within your organization. 

Have Fun!


When you put together the passion and adaptability, you realize that fun is simply a byproduct. These two pictures represent this perfectly for me. The first one came after a 3-hour hike to get lumber to work on a church building. Sometimes you need to take a break from your work and harness your inner Tarzan and swing from a vine. Or the picture on the right. After weeks of planning a huge community soccer event we had a downpour of rain. Instead of getting frustrated at the obstacle, we adapted and decided to turn the field into a muddy slip n’ slide. When you have fun with your work, your creativity will come to life. 

FLIP helps facilitate these 3 lessons into a program designed around a passion for the movement, an obsession for our members, and a desire to make a change. 

To be successful, the first thing to do is fall in love with your work.
— Sister Mary Lauretta

Clark Duncan