I have had the good fortune to encounter dozens of great non-profit organizations since I began my leadership consulting and coaching career nine years ago. But it is the people who stir me. I have these peak experience moments sometimes, more often than you would think, when someone speaks a hard truth and a group transforms-or when an idea emerges like a burst of light in a meeting room- or an individual in a coaching session sees a potency in herself she didn’t know was there.
I have energetic responses to these moments, when I feel electric, a sparkle in my body. When it happens, I know I’m experiencing a confluence of truth and love.
We’re not supposed to talk about love, but I see it everywhere. I see staff build relationships over time where their support for each other is profoundly nourishing, in the hardest situations. I see it when new people come into an organization and they are enfolded and given an immediate sense of belonging. I see it in the extraordinary compassion staff can have for the most frustrating and downtrodden of clients. I see it all the time in the vision and inspiration of board and staff leaders who want to make the world a better place and know they can only do it by helping midwife the potential of others.
Nonprofit organizations have plenty of challenges. Their leaders often grow up doing the work in the trenches and don’t instantly know how to stretch into leadership. Their infrastructures are vastly under-resourced. People are afraid to hold each other accountable. They get overwhelmed and hold grudges, and keep elephants under tables, as do humans in groups everywhere. They lose focus on results. These are the things I can help with.
But after 9 years of being in the trenches with people doing extraordinarily hard work, I have to say that love goes a long way toward creating a prevailing brilliance, a spirit of collaboration and determination, a commitment to service, a tenacity that endures.
And I don’t just see love. I feel it. I fall in love, if you will, again and again with the people who care for our children, protect our lands and wildlife, house the poor, the homeless, the disabled and the mentally ill, and go to battle to protect the planet.
So thank you to all of you, who remind me every day how powerful our love can be in creating work places that nourish hope for a better world.