I was recently reading my favorite passage from one of my favorite books, "Walking the Bible" by Bruce Feiler. First off, as much as I appreciate e-readers, there continues to be something about holding a well-worn cherished book that trumps the electronic experience. Archaic thinking I suppose but nevertheless, undeniable.
In any event, the passage - which I won't share in full detail - deals with discovering oneself in the desert. I don't mean just landing in the desert. I mean real self-discovery. I'm not sharing it intentionally as I hope you will add this to your reading list and find some or all of the joy I have.
But to summarize the passage which inspired me to run my first marathon (as one example), Feiler talks about breaking the comfort of safe environments ( i.e. not the desert), breaking through and ultimately longing for the challenge, adventure and rewards of new terrains and approaches.
By the way, similar lessons are out there in books by Ultra Runner Lisa Tamati; see "Running Hot" or "Running to Extremes". In both books, she chronicles her amazing ultra runs (100 miles and much more) through the Sahara, Gobi and other deserts. I guaranty you'll not only be inspired to run through a desert- you might revamp your business, how you spend your free time and maybe your way of life in general.
Are you sitting in a lovely air conditioned (or heated depend on where you and when you read this)? OR Are you about the to step into the desert with only the most amazing experience waiting for you?
Looking at this question through the lens of our work in the charitable sector and the impact we have, I would challenge you to consider:
1. Are you content with the impact your program is making? Or are you investing time and energy into thinking of the next iteration of the work that could hit the root of the issue beyond the symptoms.
2. Are you staffing your program with well meaning but minimally trained professionals? Or are you investing time and energy into teaching them about new methods, skills, ideas and thinking that empower them and inspire them to achieve more. And want to achieve more.
3. Are you engaging leadership that has been told its fine to contribute what they can or when they can? Or are you challenging your existing and new Board members to be the best (not necessarily the biggest) supporters) of the organization in terms of their contribution of time, energy and dollars (yes, I said it dollars!)
4. Are you asking your volunteers, fundraisers, donors and prospective donors to "give what they can" or "whatever is comfortable?" Or are you challenging your constituents to give the best gifts they can; best being a gift that stretches their capacity and one they can be proud of when asking others.
5. Are you comfortable that your donors really like, understand and value the work your organization does. Or are you taking the time to continually educate them and even the next generation (and the one after that) of the importance of your mission, how it has the potential to solve (not just treat) the issue and getting them excited about the possibilities?
If the answer to these was the first, it's an exciting time for you. You have the opportunity to grab your water bottle, get outside and start your run - Go Find Your Desert!! If you're already there, thanks for leading us…
Robert Grabel is the President of Nonprofit Now! You can find his posts here and at www.robertgrabel.com
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