A Breath of Fresh Air

I was talking to someone today about what it’s like working in the nonprofit sector. We discussed the challenges of funding and the tireless advocacy and struggle to make ends meet. The capacity issues and staff workload concerns are higher than ever and turnover and burnout are everywhere.

A client I’ve been working with told me I was like a “breath of fresh air” in their organization. I’ve been reflecting on that because it really wasn’t about me. It was meant as a compliment; however, when I simply look at the reason they said it I notice that they were tired. Tired of the same old same old, tired of the constraint driven system of lack of money, lack of time, lack of leadership and I thought to myself ‘there must be a better way’. 

One book I read while doing my Masters of Leadership was called Change the Way you See Everything by Dr. Kathryn D. Cramer  This book taught me the difference between Asset-based thinking (ABT) and Deficit-based thinking (DBT). She explains that “ABT is not just positive thinking, but rather a systematic observation of ‘what works’”. 

I realized that I’m an asset-based thinker. Sometime, this drives people crazy. I only see new opportunity. I don’t see constraints. I don’t often know the ‘how-to’ details that will make implementation of my ideas seamless and painless. And….because of all that I can inspire people who have been stuck (inadvertently) in deficit-based atmospheres. 

The people I drive crazy are the ones who can’t connect how to do new things without money or without seeing all the steps to get there. Sometimes that leap of faith and jumping without a parachute can actually bring about inspired change and success. I challenge more people to try jumping. It’s like in the Indiana Jones movie when Harrison Ford’s character was about to walk out over a cavern and the bridge suddenly appeared. The bridge just may appear as you begin walking.

Living in a world where nothing is possible because of money, time or people is discouraging. We need more ABT’s in this world to break down those walls and help us see what is possible. New innovative ways to do business is needed in our DBT nonprofit world. Let’s work together to see what CAN be and stop looking at what CAN’T.