Career Advice from Two Guys in Motorcycle Helmets

There are a lot of things that I enjoy about my work with Volunteer Maryland.  I get to help shepherd in a new generation of nonprofit leaders.  I’m working to improve nonprofits across the state by showing them efficient, effective ways to communicate their mission and vision.  Volunteer Maryland is growing because of the work that staff and AmeriCorps members are doing.  Because of what we believe in.  Because of the world we hope for – because of the state, the cities, and the neighborhoods that we hope for.  Bit by bit, we’re doing grand things, and we’re getting things done. 

I can’t help but wonder whether or not I’m helping to achieve everything that can be, that needs to be achieved.  Am I advising people well?  Is there some better way that a problem can be solved that will result in a better outcome?  Is there something that I can say, or do, or some way to show something to someone to make them understand why I’m doing what I do?  Something that will make them say, “Yes, I get it now.  This is why what you’re doing is important.  This is why things need to change.  This is my role in making this place better.”

I don’t know what that one thing is.  I don’t know if I’ll ever know what that thing is for some people.  For me, that’s the biggest challenge of what I do.  Knowing that there are people that, no matter what I say or do, nothing is going to make them understand why I do what I do.  That there isn’t anything that anyone can say or do to make them understand.

The thing that’s hardest about this isn’t that the other person doesn’t understand the importance of what I do; it’s that I can’t make them understand its importance.

But what’s the big deal?  When you go fishing, you don’t ever catch all of the fish, right?  I can’t let myself think like that.  It will keep me from working harder, from trying new ways of getting people to understand what I do and motivate them to do the same kinds of things.  If I were to stop trying, I’d have to settle with being “good enough,” and that’s just not an option. 

So what am I going to do about all of this?  Some days it’s enough to make me want to throw in the towel and stop trying.  I can’t let that happen, though.  So I’m going to have to work harder, make my piece of the world better, and do it faster.  It makes us stronger.  Which is a good thing, because our work is never over.

Ok, so they're not really motorcycle helmets.

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