Advocacy Super Power #3: The Yin & Yang of Patience + Perseverance

Let’s face it.  As I’ve said before Advocacy is a leadership strategy not for the faint of heart.   It requires a strong commitment and in return it makes your organization stronger in the long term.  

For me personally this week’s Super Power, Holding a Vision & Adopting a Long Term Commitment to Fulfilling It is the hardest to possess.  I call it the Yin/Yang Super power because it requires holding two seemingly contradictory energies that can be at odds with one another but are ultimately complimentary.  Yin is all about being patient and receptive while Yang is about taking action and getting things done.

I had to laugh recently when it was revealed to me by an astrologer that I was born with very little Yin energy.  It was a proverbial “Aha” moment where suddenly everything in my life made sense including my decision to switch jobs every 3-4 years and ultimately to switch gears from environmental law to working in an association.

I switched gears because after ten years of practicing environmental law my energy was depleted waiting for the results of a series of numerous and ongoing long term projects including litigation against a major municipality along with big infrastructure improvement projects and heavy advocacy lifts like improving the water quality of the Chicago River.  In 1996 when the idea of upgrading the water quality to allow for some human contact was first proposed there were some who thought it could never possibly happen.

Just recently some of the projects that I was working on 20 years ago came to completion!  And I finally celebrated by taking my kids kayaking in the Chicago River.

The truth is I’ve probably been impatient for results in almost every job I’ve held.  As an advocate what I often failed to recognize and hold on to is the ability to identify and celebrate the incremental progress that gets won along the way toward fulfillment of the long-term vision.  Every time a standard or provision in a water discharge permit was improved along the way toward changing the use designation in the River that was a victory AND a cause for celebration.   

At the time, I was frustrated and deeply challenged by the slow pace of progress, and the delays, and setbacks that inevitably accompany any large scale systems change work.  And like a lot of nonprofits, I forgot that it wasn’t just my job or the job of my entire organization to accomplish any of these monumental tasks but was truly a collective effort. My view, like a lot of advocates in the field, could become myopic.

As advocates working to tackle long term challenges, holding onto the vision while persevering ahead is perhaps one of the hardest things to do.  Here is my advice that helps you embrace this Super Power more effectively:

  • Clearly define your short term, interim and long term outcomes for success. Not only are these critical for holding yourselves internally accountable, they are the difference between a successful and unsuccessful fundraising bid. And communicating them to your constituents and funders is a critical part of that.
  • Celebrate. This may seem like fluff, but one of the hallmarks of a successful advocacy culture is the ability to celebrate victories across the organization.  Its easy sometimes to take ourselves too seriously in our quest for fighting the good fight and lose sight that we are human and need motivation, and so do our staff and others that work with and support us.
  • Finally, never forget to appreciate and give recognition to your colleagues, constituents, and others who helped realize the outcomes. There’s often a perception from the outside world that all of us in the nonprofit world sing Kumbaya and hold hands because we share a common goal, but competition for funding and let’s face it for glory, just as in the private sector, can be fierce there but them loudly and proudly along the way.

What I’ve also come to realize is that behind my impatience is an abundant drive of energy that springs from a deep place of holding a vision of creating a better reality for others and supporting others to help make that happen.

This drive to make things happen is Yang energy, which it turns out, according to the astrologer, I have in abundance!

These seemingly contradictory energies patterns are why I decided to start the Advocacy Collaborative 4 years ago.  Like Advocacy running your own business is also not for the faint of heart.   You need to adapt and persevere in the face of obstacles and delays while staying committed to your vision.

What keeps me motivated is my vision is that more nonprofit leaders will commit or stay committed to making big things happen, when they receive the support they need.    That by receiving support and guidance, using our voice to dismantle the obstacles that can make creating social change and systems change difficult will seem less daunting.

That’s why I decided to create and launch “Amplify Your Impact”.  Its my brand new 6 month 1:1 virtual coaching experience that provides nonprofit leaders with the support they need to tackle their tough challenges and use their leadership influence to advance their mission.

What are you challenges that lie ahead in 2018 ?  How would receiving extra support help  you to fulfill them?  With my support you :

  • identify your goals,
  • eliminate obstacles
  • identify critical needed supports and
  • for 3 months work to create and implement an action plan to achieve them.

All while receiving twice monthly coaching calls and interim email support from me.  During our time together, I will function as both your coach, mentor, advocacy expert and occasionally throw on my lawyer hat.

For the month of December, I’m offering beta pricing of $3,000 to the first 10 enrollees who sign up by December 31!

If you’re interested in making big things happen and know that with some extra support, and expert guidance you or your staff will be able to achieve your 2018 goals while feeling less overwhelmed and burnt out, like I was, let’s find a time to talk and discuss your goals and challenges. Here is a link to my calendar.

Onward and Upward!


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