Why Social Change Diva is here

20 Dec

Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks to change themselves”. – Tolstoy

My professional career has been based on the belief that you can do well by doing good. Now “well” is a relative term. I am not rich but I have been able to sustain a life doing good works. I have spent my professional career working in non-profit organizations that aligned with my causes. And I have been a dedicated worker to those causes: women’s issues, economic prosperity, social justice, and access to legal services for the poor, are just a few. Although a lawyer by training, I have done policy work, community relations work, and leadership development.

Early on in my career I realized that working for non-profits was actually a selfish thing to do. The altruism c an be quite intoxicating. When you tell people about the work that you do and they approve or say “that seems so cool”, you get to feel good about yourself and feel just a little bit higher on the food chain . It feeds your soul . Go non-profits!

What we life long do-gooders realize is that there is a pixie dust version of non-profits and the salt mine version. Pixie first.

Pixie Dust

  • Filled with people who are committed to the cause, willing to work harder and longer
  • Creative problem solvers who look at the world differently and search for solutions
  • Outspoken and tireless advocates determined to make their part of the world (e.g. homelessness, cancer, internet privacy, juvenile justice) a better place for under-represented and unheard communities.
  • Change agents, social activists, community organizers, and the “outside” forces making this world a better place.

Salt mine version

  • People who are enthusiastic and excited (sometimes fanatical) about the cause
  • As mission based organizations, employees may not be seen as partners in the cause but line workers who are doing what needs to get done.
  • Even the biggest ones suffer infrastructure issues such as how they get their staff to progress up a career ladder.
  • Employees can feel stuck in their jobs and burnout is high
  • Staff don’t focus on themselves because the cause is the number one priority

But what I think is that while the cause is the number one priority, if people do not have the skills to do their jobs better, smarter, faster and more creatively, then advancing towards that all important goal is slower and painful and inefficient . And the win, when it happens, is blurred by exhaustion.

So with this blog *and whatever else comes from it* I hope to do just what Tolstoy said, My change in this world is going to be helping those who do the to change themselves.


2 Responses to “Why Social Change Diva is here”

  1. Adam Strasberg December 21, 2009 at 9:35 am #

    While the mission is number one, it’s the people who must accomplish it. All too often, organizations forget that people have to come first.

    So the question I have for you is why do you think so many non-profits are salt mines? And how do we change that?

  2. socialchangediva December 27, 2009 at 3:45 pm #

    I think that non-profits have decided ” that all non profits are dysfunctional” as the status quo. And people want to work towards the cause. I dont think non profits are salt mines on purpose. They want people to work hards towards a goal and people are motivated to do so.

    So, how do we change that? I say lets take some responsibility for our choice in working for non profits, push ourselves (myself included) to try to remember the pixie dust version of non profits and find better ways to work.

    Just my two cents.

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