Hi everyone. My plane is boarding for Aotearoa, so apologies for any errors or clumsy wording in this post.
When I was in high school, I took AP Psychology. A few weeks into the class, my teacher, Mr. Henderson, approached me to ask how I was doing in class. I said I didn’t think I was doing OK, that I was nervous about the AP exam, and that I was afraid I would fail it. He then told me that we would be learning about the Dunning-Kruger effect (DKE) and gave me a brief synopsis. (I did end up passing the exam with a 5, and Mr. Henderson, with his mustache, piercing insights, and gentle sense of humor would end up becoming one of the most important mentors in my life; he advised me that a career in psychology may not pay very well, so I took his words to heart and went into the lucrative field of nonprofit.)
The Dunning-Kruger effect is basically this (though I’m paraphrasing a bit): People with lower skills, knowledge, and expertise tend to overestimate themselves, while those who are more skilled, knowledgeable, etc., tend to underestimate themselves. Some of this is hypothesized to be because incompetent people may be too incompetent to recognize that they are incompetent, while competent people are competent enough to realize they may not yet know everything and still need to learn and improve.
Hi everyone, I am heading out on a three-week speaking trip that spans the US, Canada, and Aotearoa, so apologies in advance if the next several blog posts may be short, poorly edited, posted at strange times, missing completely, or just a single picture of a majestic kiwi bird. (The use of the Oxford Comma, however, will be consistent).
One of the things I’ve been fighting for over the years is for employers to treat job candidates with dignity and respect. This includes the salary being listed in every job posting. Like the devastation of climate change, the importance of vaccinations, and the deliciousness of olives, the research is so decisive that there is no further arguing about this (Just kidding about olives; I know many of you hate them, and I feel deeply sad for you and your lives). Either you disclose salary ranges on your job postings, or you signal to the world how far behind your org is on equity practices.
Over the past several months, my kids have been obsessed with Greek Mythology, thanks to a podcast they listen to called “Greeking Out.” Greek myths are awesome, and there’s a lot they can teach us. Actually, many of the terms we use in this sector have Greek origins. For instance, the word “philanthropy” comes from the Greek “philos” which means “love of” and “anthropos” which means “burdensome and pointless grant applications.”
Anyway, while listening to Greeking Out with the kids, I couldn’t help but imagine these iconic stories being set in the nonprofit sector, so I wrote some of them out below. Enjoy. (And stop judging. Like your Saturday nights are so much more interesting.)
It’s been nearly three years since I stopped being a nonprofit executive director. My skin looks healthier, my eyes less sunken and haunted, and I’ve started reverse-aging and now look like my kids’ father and not their grandfather. Best of all, I only wake up once or twice a year screaming “Cashflow! Payroll! NOooOOOO!!”
Being a nonprofit ED/CEO, or any other high-level leaders, can be rough. The systems and norms we have put in place often place unrealistic amounts of responsibility and stress on leaders. Combined with a capricious funding system that forces everyone into default survival mode, and we can understand how leaders burn out and why few younger professionals want to assume leadership roles.
Hi everyone. I appreciate Deepa Iyer’s and Building Movement Project’s Social Change Ecosystem Map. It is helpful to see what roles we each play in the work to make the world better. And while we do that, it’s also helpful to see the roles we play that could make the world worse…or at least keep it from improving. You may recall that Dr. King said the greatest threat to justice are not the people burning crosses and otherwise being overtly racist, it’s the white moderates, people who are well-meaning but whose actions perpetuate inequitable systems.
Here below are the 12 archetypes of the white moderate that I’ve identified for this post. Examining them helps us to recognize when we are playing these roles. As you read, keep in mind that none of us are immune to any of these archetypes. And sometimes, we take on multiple simultaneous roles. While people of color can perpetuate white moderation, I want white colleagues to pay special attention, as you are more likely to play these roles and with greater frequency: