Recently, an Idealist article identified the four common misconceptions about being a nonprofit executive. All struck a chord – and caused a smile. The third item, however, called for some reflection: “I’ll feel joyful and passionate all the time because I’m doing meaningful work.”
Don’t misunderstand me; I do enjoy my job. The ability to affect change in my community and to support the success of my members is my passion. I believe it takes unique individuals to succeed in chamber and association management. More often than not, there is joy in our accomplishments.
On the other hand, we often meet challenges and obstacles in our efforts. A member may disagree with the organization’s position on a relevant issue. A program may not meet its goals. The workload may appear to be insurmountable. Where are the joy and the passion in our work then?
Our work is no less meaningful.
It is important that we acknowledge and resolve those feelings. The article continued to state “many experienced execs admit that instead of feeling joyful, they feel jaded and sceptical (sic)….” Who wants to live his or her life with such negativity?
How we respond to those feelings is important to our well-being. Below are five things to keep in mind to maintain a level of passion in our work:
Ask for assistance. It isn’t always easy, but from time to time I have to admit I cannot go it alone. Seeking out trusted individuals to assist on a project or with a difficult decision can reduce the personal investment in the project and help us to see the bigger picture.
Keep the communications open. Don’t close the door on someone when there is a disagreement or difficult exchange. By harboring the negative experience, it is allowed to fester and grow. While letting cooler heads prevail is great advice, completing the experience with a discussion on what went wrong will identify those opportunities to improve the next time.
Carve out “me” time. We all need down time that removes us from the daily grind. Five minutes of meditation in the middle of the day can re-focus our day and redirect us toward the joy. An evening with our significant other or friends (without the smartphone pings of incoming e-mails), can put our lives back into perspective and ground us in what truly matters.
Keep perspective. By managing the expectations, we can maintain our sense of reality. Not everything is going to go according to plan. Fortunately, in almost every case, it is not a matter of life or death. Perspective ensures we remain grounded.
Celebrate. Don’t lose sight of the successes. Individual successes re-enforce our efforts and keep us motivated. Celebrating team successes help create additional opportunities to excel by increasing communications and reducing isolationism.
What works for you and your organization?