Who has time for baby steps?

It’s a Wednesday that feels like a Monday after a ten-day weekend.

Hello, 2019.

Never mind how this morning feels, we’ve got things to do this year. New things that we just thought of over the break when we were doing not-work things. Old things we didn’t get to last year. Half-done things that keep getting pushed to the back burner. We’ve got things to do.

I’m guessing if you’re taking time to read this post, you’ve got some connection to the social profit world — development professional, executive director, board member, interested citizen, or maybe, just a socially-concerned friend of mine who stops by. Whoever you may be, the world’s on fire in so many ways and we’ve got things to do.

When I talk with organizations about changing direction, or stepping up fundraising, or replacing ineffective staff, or rebranding, whatever, I so often hear, “Well, we should go slowly. Baby steps.”

I do appreciate thoughtful consideration and weighing budgetary concerns and being politically astute within our communities of influence but honestly, with the world on fire, who has time for baby steps?

If you and your organization are solving problems that matter to individuals, families, communities, countries, the world, do you really have time for baby steps? (And if you aren’t solving problems, what are you doing?) Do the people you serve really have time for baby steps?

And personally, do you, as an individual, have time for baby steps? You may not be as “seasoned” as I am, but even if you are very young, do you really have time to be overly cautious about your personal aspirations? Do you have time to weigh and reweigh, to talk yourself out of bold moves, to let slivers of fear splinter your resolve?

Who has time for baby steps?

David Lloyd George, one of the great reforming British chancellors of the 20th century, once said, “Don’t be afraid to take a big step. You can’t cross a chasm in two small jumps.” That’s a visual we can use.

I see us doing that, professionally and personally, trying to cross these big spaces between where we are and where we want/need to be by taking small, cautious baby steps. Tiptoeing into solutions that could solve some of the pressing needs of our neighbors. Having endless “chicken and egg” discussions about which should come first, the funding or the action. Holding on to programs and people that are only marginally effective when we know, we really know, that we could all do better. And we wonder why our progress doesn’t meet the vision we have for ourselves and the world.

What’s the one thing for you? What’s the audacious thing that you - or your organization - need to bring to the front burner and then turn up the gas? What if here, in this first week of a new year, you just full-on committed to that one thing? What’s the worst thing that could happen? More importantly, what’s the best thing that could happen?

Maybe you let all your enthusiasm, all your passion show when you talk to a potential funder about this one thing, putting all your proverbial eggs in this one basket. Maybe you let go of some secondary goals to go after the one thing. Maybe you show off, speak out, stand up in your organization as a champion, a crazy, over-the-top champion for this one thing, because it matters so damn much. Maybe you stop beating yourself up about all the personal goals you aren’t reaching and turn your laser-beam focus on your one thing. Maybe you tell somebody, “This is my thing this year. My one thing. Hold me accountable. Help me not give up.”

Real power exists in setting — and going after — the bold goals. If you google Big Hairy Audacious Goals, you’ll get a gazillion responses and some of them will give you some hard data about the success that follows galvanizing around visionary goals. We’ve known this is true and yet, we hold back, especially when we’re spending a great deal of energy, organizationally or personally, around where the money’s going to come from. What would it take for you to be funded in a way that let you step out from behind that constant energy-draining concern about resources? Maybe, for this year, that’s your one thing.

Just name it. Your one thing. Today. Name it.

If we all just run forward — spring, leap, gallop, pole vault forward — what could happen?

The world’s on fire.

Who has time for baby steps?

Photo cred: Created by Jigsawstocker - Freepik.com

Joan Brown