This One Is For You

There’s one in every crowd. The curmudgeon.  The one who has all the answers (and, BTW, YOUR answers are just wrong!).  The one who hates everything and the one who obviously has never let the word “yes” cross his or her lips. I can’t, for the life of me, understand why this person bothers to show up. OK, truth time.  I wish that person would decide to give the rest of us a break and just stay home.

I really hate it when that person is my client.  The development director who insists that nothing “works here.”  The executive director who only wants to whine about the lack of resources and what cannot be done instead of thinking about what can. The board members who are horrified that they are supposed to do anything beyond come to a meeting and browbeat the ED and development director because they are not raising enough money. The staff member who affirms that “that’—pick a thing, anything, and I guarantee that at some point, with some staff member it will be “that”—is not in their job description.

The problem with these people is more than the negativity they bring to the table. It is the way we all focus our attention on them.

I meet often with other consultants.  We share ideas, brainstorm, and whine.  Mainly, we whine.  And it is those awful clients that we whine about.  But the truth is that 95.8% of you are great.  Are doing fabulous things.  Are hard working. Want to improve.  Listen, learn, argue (appropriately), and get better and better at what you do.

This one is for you.

On the days when things seem glum, remember you really are doing amazing work.  You are changing lives and making the world, however you describe the world, better.  And you do it well.  With passion, compassion, intelligence.

While things don’t always go the way you want, you don’t give up.  You don’t quit.  You may complain (hey—isn’t that in our constitution?  Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Complaining) but then you dust yourself off and seek better ways to do things, fixes for what is broken.

Truly, most of my clients—leadership, staff, board members—are my heroes.  They do important work, often at little pay and lots of hours, with few resources at hand.  And they truly make lemonade out of lemons.

Thank you for all you do. And on those days when you feel underappreciated, ready to pack it all in, remember what brought you here, and why it really matters.