The beginning of a new year is usually, for me at least, a time of mixed emotions. I’m excited about the new experiences that wait around the corner, but fearful of the unknown that also lurks there. A new year by definition brings change, and that can be exciting, but it can also be scary.
But this year I feel differently. As I grow older I increasingly realize that what you experience in this world is largely the result of how you choose to interpret what happens. And I have also come to know that we hold tremendous power when we choose to see opportunity in whatever circumstances we face.
I think this is particularly true for nonprofit leaders, who arguably face some of the most challenging circumstances — limited resources, often crippled capacity, increasing demand for services, difficult policy environments — to name a few.
As a very stark example, I offer nonprofit journalism-related organizations, some of whom I have been working with recently. As the budgets of news organizations dwindle precariously, more and more journalists are leaving the profession, and verbal and physical threats against journalists mount, it is obvious that the news media is up against tremendous obstacles. And, let’s be honest, chances are those obstacles will probably grow in 2019.
But just as choosing an abundance mindset rather than a scarcity mindset is profoundly powerful, so too is choosing to see hurdles as opportunities. The most innovative of news producers are experimenting with new business models; new ways of gathering, creating and distributing content; and new ways of forging partnerships. They have taken a dismal set of circumstances and turned those into ways to evolve the American free press.
Similarly, while challenges facing so many American cities mount — like the opioid epidemic, growing healthcare costs, wealth inequality — some cities are actually thriving. That’s because they are experimenting with things like: new public/private partnerships, more engaging public spaces, equity-based economies.
We can choose to bend before the challenges we face, or we can meet them with innovation, ingenuity, inspiration, and hope.
Certainly many nonprofits are facing challenge and change as we head into 2019. But there is opportunity to forge new and bigger alliances with other organizations and networks, to turn public concern into dollars and volunteers, to explore new and expanded revenue streams, to think about your work in bigger ways.
So in this new year, I suggest that we excitedly anticipate what 2019 will bring, the good and bad, because it all holds opportunity — to do more, and to become more.
If you want some help moving yourself or your nonprofit from scarcity to abundance, or from challenge to opportunity, check out the Consulting servicesI offer, or read case studies about other nonprofit leaders I’ve helped find a better way.
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- Nell Edgington