Does the road wind uphill all the way?
Yes, to the very end.
Will the day’s journey take the whole long day?
From morn to night, my friend.
It’s tempting to think that the poet Christina Rossetti must have worked at a nonprofit. Or on a farm, or a small business, or anywhere else where the work is never "done." What’s quietly thrilling in her words is the combination of fatigue, dismay, and ultimately, satisfaction.
Especially in the human services there are days that seem uphill, steep, and endless. After all, as you have more and more clients to serve, revenue doesn’t go up and up. (If a store were to triple its customers, it would hire more people!)
Sometimes we attribute "burnout" to a weakness of the spirit, or to simple overwork. But the real culprit is this economic underpinning: the fact that customers represent an expense of time and money, but not more sales income.
A common dream is that "if we were just a little bigger — maybe 1/3 bigger — we would have the infrastructure and support we need." In fact, when our work is good, the demand will continually outstrip our ability to meet it. There has never been a point when we were "meeting the need," nor is it likely we will ever get there. Instead, we do our best, and we let go. And while we won’t be satisfied, we can be both proud of what we do, and fulfilled by the journey.
* This issue: Ten Things Learned from Women Executive Directors of Color and a checklist for important items in the bylaws. Not to mention Ask Rita on surrogate motherhood and a very fun 3-Minute Vacation.
Blue Avocado has turned two years old and we’re just reached the 60,000 subscriber mark. Thanks everyone! and let us know what you’d like to see us do differently . . . Jan Masaoka