If you are feeling — as we hit the middle of 2021, a year almost as difficult as 2020 — exhausted, overwhelmed, worn out, you are not alone.
Because I see you. I see you hang up after a call with a discouraging funder and put your head in your hands. I see you reliving a conversation you had with an exasperating board member as you make your morning coffee. I see you reading the news about a new regulation that will further impede your work. I see you worry that the demand for your organization’s services is growing while funding for them is not.
I know the feeling: the weight of the world feels like it rests solely on your shoulders. I get it. I’ve been there.
Because I have a vision for a better world, too, and I have seen that vision impeded by massive and overwhelming hurdles over the last several years.
I joined the social change sector in the late 1990s, right after college. I was attracted to the belief inherent in the sector that a better world is possible. I spent my early career working in various nonprofit organizations throughout America. While all the entities I worked for had critical social change missions and some committed, passionate staff and board members, they all struggled in various ways to truly grow their reach and impact.
I started Social Velocity in 2008 because I wanted to help leaders overcome the constant scarcity (of money, committed people, influence, power) that kept them from achieving the social change they sought. I developed guidance, frameworks, and tools for helping leaders achieve their visions. I went along happily for eight years working with amazing leaders and feeling as if we were making a collective difference.
But then the 2016 U.S. election happened.
Overnight the world became, for me and so many others, such a bleak place. America—the country I was born and raised to believe was a force for healing, democracy, philanthropy, and general goodness in the world—had suddenly elected a president who had built a campaign around xenophobia, fear, and hatred. The disconnect was crushing to me, as I know it was for many in America and the world.
In that moment I felt I was witnessing my country turn its back on a progression toward greater equity, connection, and healing among all of its inhabitants. And, if I no longer believed that type of change was possible, I no longer understood my purpose in the world. I was suddenly lost.
So I took a brief sabbatical where I immersed myself in anything and everything that spoke to my soul. I began reading books by people like Brené Brown, Eckhart Tolle, Martha Beck, Thích Nhất Hạnh, among others. I started meditating daily (which, believe me, was a huge departure for this die-hard, type A personality who has trouble sitting still during a ten-minute car ride). I gave up my normal mode of always going, going, going and doing, doing, doing and instead got very still.
Through those months of reading, meditating, and thinking, a different view of the world emerged. Perhaps 2016 was a wake-up call to all of us social changemakers to recognize and call “bullshit” on those hurdles standing in our way. Maybe this was an opportunity to explore whether the answer to overcoming those hurdles might originate inside us, in our way of thinking.
I began to map out a path that social changemakers could follow to overcome the obstacles—in both your mindset and tactics—standing in the way of the solutions you offer the world.
Then the pandemic arrived and with it the laying bare of so many broken systems. From racial inequality to inadequate and inequitable health care and education systems, from a dysfunctional political system to growing wealth inequality and the extractive financial systems that perpetuate it to a growing global climate crisis—we have come face to face with the need to completely remake our broken systems.
However, the very system we have in place to address social problems—the social change sector—is itself broken. Instead of supporting, fully investing in, and advocating for gifted social change leaders, we put unfair and defeating rules, expectations, and norms in your path.
You are growing discouraged, disheartened, and exhausted. But we desperately need you energized, emboldened, well-resourced, and fully able to marshal people, organizations, and dollars toward a better world.
Through my book and Free Training Series, I am offering you a roadmap to overcome the unfair and unhelpful system in which you have operated for years and attract the abundance of money and people that will allow you to achieve the social change we so desperately need.
The work you were put here to do needs to be easier for you—we all need it to be easier for you. If we truly want a more just, equitable, inclusive, and engaged society, our social change leaders on the frontlines—launching and running social change organizations and movements—must be equipped with an unlimited supply of confidence, people, money, and influence.
Your future deserves to be abundant.
There’s plenty more about how to overcome your overwhelm in my new book “Reinventing Social Change“. Grab your copy now. And don’t miss our monthly free training series that takes a deep dive into how to move your social change work from scarcity to abundance. Our next training is August 25th. Register here.
Photo Credit: brut carniollus