I find myself sitting comfortably at St. Mary’s University of Minnesota waiting for the start of my second year Masters program in Philanthropy and Fund Development.
I wanted to arrive a day early before everyone else. Unpack, settle in, and get acclimated to my new home for two weeks. Not a lot to do on a Saturday night in Winona, MN, so I have been taking it easy. Something I rarely do these days as a busy consultant and conference speaker.
I reached into my bag and pulled out an article. I began to read it and this is what it had to say, ” As the volume of work increased, so did the need for some space in between activities. But I had lost my sense of having any control over the volume of work or pace of my days.” How so very true that all rang for me.
Rarely, do I stop and breathe. Rarely do I stop and add space in between activities.
On I read. “I carried my undigested experiences around like excess baggage. There was less and less room for anything new.” Now, I really thought the writer was starting to write about me.
This next sentence truly stopped me in my tracks. “I grew sluggish in my thinking, sloppy in my writing, and irritable with colleagues. I no longer recognized myself. I forgot why the work was important or what it had to do with me if anything. I felt like a packhorse, an economic unit of production, a machine. I was on autopilot. To get behind the wheel, I needed to cave out time for reflection.”
WOW! Did I ever? And as you read this, does this resemble you? Are you operating on autopilot? Are you in need of reflection?
I move from one project to the next, I read trade journal after another. But, very rarely with so much to be done do I stop and actually jump into that space between activities. Rarely do I reflect on what just transpired. Rarely do I question what I read or even contemplate how I may incorporate it into my very own work.
What a shame!
We are all here in the nonprofit world to make a huge difference on those that we serve. Don’t they deserve the time in between our spaces? Doesn’t the world deserve thoughtful reflective practitioners who examine not only best practices, but, all practices including our very own. How much more effective and impactful would my work be if I just jumped into that space and stopped for a moment. Stopped and reflected on the past, the present, and the future.
Shouldn’t we all strive to be reflective practitioners, not, just the best practitioners. There is a difference you know. One is rote and the other is innovative, thoughtful and strategic. I know which one I would rather be. What about you?