This will be the first of several gifts I will be sharing with you this holiday season. And I thought I would make this the first one, because it contains every single thing you want. Really.
Readers here dedicate much of their lives to making a difference, whether as their full time employment or their seemingly full time volunteering. So that is my gift to you – 3 guaranteed steps to making that difference and changing the world.
No, I’m not exaggerating or outright lying (or even delusional). If you follow these three steps, you will make a difference, guaranteed.
Step 1) Believe it is possible.
Yes, it sounds simple. But if you don’t believe with every fiber of your being that you can make a visionary difference in your community – well, then you can’t.
Unless something is physically impossible, it is possible. Believe in your bones that you can make your community a healthy, vibrant, humane, resilient place to live, and you can.
Once you believe it is possible, the next step is to…
Step 2) Aim at what is possible.
Aiming is about planning. As you create your annual plans (or even your weekly plans), ask, “What do we want to be different in the community we serve, because of the work we are doing?” Create plans that aim directly at making that difference.
Most “strategic” plans are actually reactive – reacting to either internal or external circumstances. “Our community is having X problem. What can we do to help?”
Instead of reacting, aim your plans at where you want to be. Then reverse engineer what it will take to achieve that. Create your annual goals from that reverse engineered process.
With those goals in place, the last step is to…
Step 3) Use systems that help you achieve what is possible.
In addition to refocusing your planning systems, make sure all the rest of your organizational systems are aiming you at what’s possible.
Are your board systems focusing all the board’s work on the difference your board members want to make in the community? Or are you using board systems that ignore “making a difference,” focusing mostly on means (money, HR, etc.) over ends?
Do your resource development systems build upon the strengths of others already doing similar work to you? Or do those systems reinforce that those groups are your “competition?”
Do your program evaluation systems measure the degree to which you are changing conditions in your community? Or do they measure whatever you think the funder will approve?
If your systems are not helping you achieve the difference you want to make in your community, get new systems. Really.
That’s all there is to it.
• Believe it is possible to create the future you want for your community.
• Aim everything you’ve got at making that difference.
• And make sure you are using systems that support you in making that difference (rather than fighting you at every step).
It is possible to create a healthy, vibrant, resilient, humane, peaceful world, simply because it is not impossible. So that is my gift to you – steps for moving beyond “possible” and on towards “practical and doable.”
Your gift to the rest of us will be putting those steps into motion, and creating the world we all want.
For detail about systems aimed at making a difference, read The Pollyanna Principles.
Photo credit: NASA