Are You Ending or Beginning?

Ending Beginning SignThe world is filled with problems. We keep trying to end those problems, but despite our tremendous efforts, they are still here.

In the U.S. alone, we have seen 40 years of “wars” on drugs, on poverty, on terror, on illegal immigration. But with all the dollars and time and effort we have spent trying to end this or that, the world is still filled with problems.

Around the globe, people have spent billions and trillions of dollars, trying once and for all to end many of our planet’s problems. Smart, caring people have dedicated their lives to figuring out every approach imaginable for ending the pain in our world. We have created prevention programs (the ultimate in problem-solving), and we have lately seen a whole slew of “blueprints to end” this or that – hunger, homelessness. And so we now have “blueprints” to end what the “wars” could not end. We are trying, desperately trying, working so hard, so long, so ceaselessly, to end the bad things that cause pain.

And despite our well-intentioned and well-thought-out efforts, we keep feeling like we are not getting anywhere.

And the reason we feel like we are not getting anywhere is because we are, in fact, not getting anywhere.

But then, we have not been aiming at getting anywhere. We have instead been setting our sights directly at our problems. And as happens when we give that much energy to anything, it grows. Yes, it grows.

We have aimed all our energy at our problems, and they are thriving under our attention.

So what is a caring citizen of the world to do?

Ending Something Bad vs. Beginning Something Incredible
The answer is, caring citizens, to stop aiming all our efforts at ending our problems. Seriously.

Instead of aiming all our attention and energy at what we DON’T want, let’s instead aim at building incredible, building amazing.

Let’s stop aiming our work at ending something bad, and let’s start aiming that work at building something good. Let’s aim at building an incredible place to live – an amazing community, an amazing world.

Think about it. We certainly cannot create an amazing place to live without addressing in some way the problems we have today. But unlike the “then what?” of problem-solving, aiming at amazing IS the “then what”!

A community that is compassionate, wise, healthy, vibrant – a community that nurtures artistic expression, that brings out the best in us rather than simply trying to suppress the worst in us.

A world full of people who react from our human potential for wisdom and compassion, before reacting from our animal instincts for survival.

No need to aim at ending anything at all. All we need to do is aim at beginning something incredible.

Start with your own organization’s planning. Are your plans reacting to your community’s increasing demands and needs, trying to end something bad? Or are they aiming at a great beginning – building an amazing place to live? If you plan for building an amazing community, you will address your community’s needs on the way to building “amazing.”

Are you creating a prevention program, aimed at preventing something bad – ending it once and for all – perhaps preventing / ending diabetes, heart disease, obesity? Or perhaps preventing / ending teen pregnancy, high school drop rates, gang violence? Or are you instead aiming at a great beginning – building a healthy community in all ways, a vibrant, resilient, nurturing place to live, where diabetes and heart disease and teen pregnancy and gang violence are addressed as one of many “to do” items on the road to building that healthy place to live?

Now look inside your organization. Are you reacting to internal problems, perhaps considering a Capacity Building initiative? Are you hoping you can get enough funding to address the area that happens to be on fire this year? Or are you aiming those plans at a great beginning – planning for overall health and strength for all your organization’s efforts? If you plan to make all your efforts healthy and strong in every way, you will address those problems on the way to building “amazing.”

And what about your board? Are you aiming your board development efforts at problem-solving, to finally put a stop to those nagging issues of recruitment and fundraising, succession planning and financial planning? Or are you aiming your board at a great beginning – tapping its immense potential to move forward not only the organization, but your mission and your vision for a better community / a better world? If you are encouraging and inspiring your board to its very highest potential, the board will address its problems along the way to building “amazing.”

And don’t get me started on world events! Are we aiming at ending a war, or are we aiming at the greatest beginning of all – building peace? Those two scenarios could not look more different. If we end the war on the way to building a peaceful region, a peaceful world – now that would be aiming at building “amazing” in every way we could dream of.

It all comes down to this question:

• Are we aiming at an ending or a beginning?
• Are we aiming all our energies and resources at ending something bad,
or at creating something incredible?

If you want your work to be inspired, if you want to encourage and inspire others to that work, and if you want to tap on the highest potential we all have to accomplish incredible things, my money is on aiming at beginning something incredible – aiming at building “amazing.”

But more importantly, if you want to address your community’s problems, once and for all, stop trying to solve those problems. Stop aiming all your energies at an ending. Start aiming instead at a beginning – the beginning of building an amazing, vibrant, energized, nurturing, caring and compassionate place to live.
We are creating the future, every minute of every day, whether we do so consciously or not.
What amazing tomorrow will you begin building today?

You’ll find Case Studies for planning to create an amazing future for our world in The Pollyanna Principles

6 Responses to Are You Ending or Beginning?

  1. Great post, Hildy. A textbook example of a strength-based approach to building community, and not a deficit, let’s-fill-this-hole mentality that grips the world today. Forget about putting out fires. Just start another one.

  2. Roger – I love this – “Forget about putting out fires. Just start another one.” Thank you for that! Hildy

  3. Hildy,

    There is no doubt that now is the time to “leverage the tremendous potential of this sector to create a better future for our communities and our world”.

    All of us who serve in the Community Benefit Sector are perfectly situated, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually, to shift from an “against” or “away” orientation and move in a “toward” orientation to, to paraphrase you, build something good, something compassionate, something healthy, and something vibrant. Something which incredibly “brings out the best in (all of) us.”

    And particularly now, with the technology we have at our finger-tips, we have the power to disseminate our experiences and learn from each other openly in a way previously unprecedented.

    Resiliency is about bouncing back from something which could potentially set us back, but which doesn’t by virtue of the choices we make to re-frame or re-pattern our outlook on them. It’s as equally about the releasing (ending) piece as it is about the creating (beginning) piece, with emphasis on the “creating”, because that is what energizes us and encourages us on to creating more.

    I also love Roger’s comment “Forget about putting out fires. Just start another one.”

    So let’s burn!!! Let’s light the fire so big that everyone can see it, just like the aboriginal guides of Africa go ahead of the safari and light a fire to continue to show the way for the travelers when the sun goes down.

    We CAN enter into the possibilities of the future in the present, perfectly, as we are now.

    Let’s firmly and enthusiastically be the change we wish to see in the world by implementing new life-giving systems and models into our Boards, our planning, and our teams (both our external teams of teachers/advisors/consultants and benefactors as much as our internal staff and volunteers), and holding the space of possibilities for all of us!

    Here’s to a great ride!

    In Spirit and Gratitude,
    Tracey Sisson
    Licensed Belief Re-patterningTM Practitioner
    Calgary, AB Canada

  4. Funny you mention resiliency – that has been Roger’s focus for a number of years. You may want to see the work his organization, St. Luke’s Health Initiatives, is doing in that regard. They are at – check out their Health in a New Key work! Hildy

  5. Thank you Hildy for encouraging us to think in terms of positivity rather than negativity about what our nonprofits are doing. We aren’t saving people from illiteracy. We’re helping people read. We’re not cleaning up a mess in the gulf, we’re creating a beautiful environment for marine life. Hard to quantify all of the crimes that don’t get committed. Hard to quantify all of the children that could have been illiterate. Hard to quantify how many animals would have died without our intervention.

    I do think that we need to point the finger of blame at people or companies that create horrible situations for our world, but I do like the direction of your post. We should be creating new things, new beginnings. It’s more positive, and more focused on creating more of what we want, rather than reacting against what we don’t want. And I think the more we’re focused on creating something specific and concrete and measurable, the more effective our nonprofits will be.

    Thank you for helping me think in a new way about this!