There are specific points in all our nonprofit careers, where we stop and wonder, “Am I cut out for this work?”
Whether or not you are an executive director or a fundraiser, it happens.
Whether through a “bad job fit,” “unrealistic expectations,” or just a “bad day,” there are times that we stop and have moments of what I call “confidence loss.”
Let’s face it, working in nonprofits is hard work, and there are days that we feel bruised, battered, and just plain defeated.
Let me share with you my personal story, the one that launched my consulting business for the “last” time.
I was working at a small agency after having left one. It was a moment when I jumped out of the “frying pan into the fire.” I had a head injury from an accident, and the position that I was working at, found fault with my writing.
The head injury had caused me cognitive difficulties. After being sent to a writing tutor and many corrections later, I decided it was time to leave.
I just found “any” job. The first place that hired me so that I could leave this “daily confidence defeating” scenario. All seemed like Nirvana at the new job, until…
It didn’t anymore.
The organization was under severe financial duress, losing money. And, taking large gambles on obtaining future State funding. The pressure began to be placed on me to raise money.
Until one day, after many weeks of this pressure, the then executive director walked into my office and said, “I want you to raise an additional $300,000 in three months.”
I couldn’t do anything right in her eyes.
It was at that time that I quit and walked out.
Later the organization did not receive continuation funding from the state and closed.
Poor leadership – but that is a topic for another blog. And, crisis organizations sometimes beget leaders and other staff who tend to operate in a crisis mode – but, again, that is a topic for another blog.
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The one thing that these dual experiences left me feeling was as one of my recent coaching calls noted aptly, “a crisis in confidence.” I, like my caller, didn’t know what was real or not. I felt as if I was living in a surreal world, caught between what was real and what was not.
Emotionally I was wiped. My confidence in my abilities had all been lost. I no longer believed that I was a competent director. I no longer thought that I could do my job.
I felt like I was an imposter.
It took me a while to get back to me.
But, I think that this scenario, whether you are an executive director or a fundraiser, has happened to many of us, perhaps daily. We have thoughts that sneak in and erode our confidence in our abilities to make decisions, to do our jobs, to believe in our skills, etc., etc.
I am here to say, “that’s OK!”
In my coaching practice, I have been working with several who have been “let go” from their positions, and I recently told this one gentleman, that “the skills that you have are your OWN. You OWN them, and no one took them away from you, even though right now it feels the have but all disappeared.”
As a career advancement and strategic fundraising coach, I help people to excavate through self-reflection, their skills, interests, and their passion and then find work in service to self-actualization.
And, I say the same to you.
The skills that you have and that are ARE UNIQUELY YOURS. You can never let anyone or anything take them away, even though it feels that way at times.
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