It’s been over two months now since I stepped down as an executive director. I wish I could say that, unchained from the shackles of leadership, I would be able to relax and recharge like I had planned. I haven’t been able to yet. I have to unlearn so many strategies that I adopted to be an effective ED: Constant vigilance, emotion suppression, functioning on reduced sleep, abandonment of personal hygiene, etc.
And then there’s the guilt. I feel like I have abandoned
my friends in the trenches. This guilt manifests in my trying to buy colleagues
lunches and coffees, leading to conversations like this:
Me: Let me buy you lunch.
Colleague: That’s sweet, but you don’t need to do that.
Me: No, I insist! It’s the least I can do! You are facing
so much! Let me pay!
Every New Year, many of us make resolutions to do things to improve ourselves. Of course, many of us skip doing this, because we are perfect. In fact, in some cultures, beer bellies and love handles are considered attractive, so if people have issues with them, then they’re obviously culturally incompetent and should attend a workshop.
As 2015 starts, it is important for us not to just make resolutions for ourselves, but also for our organizations, and for our field. We, as individuals and as a sector, are constantly busy doing stuff that we often don’t take enough time to gaze into the distance and think strategically. As I write this, I recall some profound words from one of my mentors when we were having lunch a while ago: “I always choose the curried chicken.” Wait, no, that’s not it. She said, “Are you spending enough time on the balcony versus the dance floor?” We are always dancing. We nonprofit professionals need to get on the balcony more often.
My fellow nonprofit professionals, I hope you are reading this from home, because I am calling for our sector to take a long and much needed break. If you are at the office, I want you to put down your pen, save your files, turn off your computer, and take a deep breath. Listen to me: You need to rest this week, and next week, and maybe even longer.
Our sector is an incredible one. It is full of smart, thoughtful, talented, and ridiculously good-looking and nice-smelling people. You are one of these people, you sexy unicorn you. Your brilliance is only surpassed by your dedication to your work and your passion for making the world better. I could not be prouder to work in such a kickass field alongside such kickass colleagues.
Now, 2014 is almost done. Stop whatever you are doing at this moment and make a list of stuff you’ve accomplished this year, because chances are you have been so busy working and freaking out about budgets and reports and crap that you haven’t noticed all the sweet and amazing things you made happen. Yup, because of you lives are better, communities are stronger, the world’s supply of happiness has increased, and we are getting steadily closer to equity and social justice. Give yourself a pat on the back. You are awesome. Continue reading “Unicorns, time for our sector to take a break!”