Saturday, March 14, 2009
Don't piss on my enthusiasm
I suppose that's the Riot Kitty way of saying, "Don't rain on my parade..." But 1) I live in the Pacific NW and there's nearly always rain, and 2) I don't like parades (it's part of not liking big crowds.)
So those of you who read this regularly know that my job has gone through some ups and downs. I have spent the better part of my time there doing damage control for my predecessor, and then for the previous executive director.
Fortunately, things are looking up. Yes, we are still struggling, like many nonprofits in this economy. However, in several areas we're also kicking ass. The event I am in charge of - a big fundraising, stigma-busting walk that seeks to draw attention to the importance of mental health care - now has more teams signed up than any of our national organization's spring walks, including NYC! (This is a big deal because our entire state has less than half of the population of NYC, you see.)
And the best part - people are excited. They are happy to get involved, inquiring about volunteer opportunities...there is a palpable enthusiasm.
Much of this is do to our new executive director (the one who lets me swear and wear jeans.) He is passionate about our mission and compassionate when it comes to other people, but not a wuss.
Anyway - why does this make me happy? Because when I took over this job last spring, worse than the bitching and moaning I kept hearing, and the apologies I kept having to make, was the constant thrum of voices telling me I should keep my expectations low.
Lots of people who had been involved with both the walk and the organization for years told me stuff like this:
"Keep your expectations low."
"I wouldn't expect much."
"People have lost their interest in the walk."
At the time, I said, "You wanna bet?", while thinking, "Up yours. Just you wait and see."
It's one thing to vent; it's another to try to squelch the enthusiasm and efforts of another person.
I am sure that all of you have run into people like this, and here's my comment to you: They suck.
Just because they aren't gutsy or ambitious enough to have dreams and plans as big as yours doesn't mean they should piss on your enthusiasm.
Along those lines, here are a couple of fantastic quotes from great achievers:
"Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can somehow become great."
- Mark Twain
"The greater danger for most of us is not that our aim is too high and we miss it, but that it is too low and we reach it."
I suppose he could have called it quits instead of painting the Sistine Chapel.