Long Term Progress

Seth Godin’s asked: What are you willing to give up today in exchange for something better tomorrow? Next week? In ten years?

The immediate place this resonates on most social sector agendas is during the financial report.  How often has the balance sheet driven the mission of an organization?  When did doing what is right become the brave thing to do?  Are we perpetuating a problem so our coffers stay full or are we willing to tackle obstacles while acknowledging that our efforts may or may not work?

In my experience, while brainstorming during long-term visioning exercises the most frequent organizational wish list item: an endowment/reserve fund (bigger endowment if one already exists).  It is not always the first thing mentioned but once the words ‘endowment’ are put forth there is a chorus of support.  As if the idea of financial security is more important than solving the very problem/furthering the opportunity the enterprise was founded to address.  Protecting the organizational shield outranks the desire for great quest.  Yet, I am short on stories about the knights of the roundtable who stayed home and collected membership fees.

Some people will risk a lot in pursuit of long-term progress.  Embarking on the journeys that are uncertain.  This is the edge where we should be planning.  Being self-sustaing but unremarkable is not original.  Far too many groups have traveled the path and their legacy (at best) is a mountain full of treasure guarded by a dragon and off limits to almost everyone.

What are you willing to give up today?  Why does it matter?

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