No hobbies

People dabble in everything.  Restaurants and bed n’ breakfasts are popular semi-serious pursuits – romantic ideas right up until the moment when you’re mopping the floors or scrubbing pots with ammonia at 2am.  Then, they’re just hard work.

Of course restaurants that don’t work flame out (not 9 out of 10, which is the conventional wisdom, but three out of five in the first five years): if not enough people come through the door to buy dinner – or if you don’t manage your staff right, or purchasing right, or any other number of things – you don’t make ends meet and you’re forced to close up shop.

Nonprofit work is a sometimes hobby too, but without the floor-scrubbing to keep us honest.  So nonprofit service, philanthropy, board service or a part-time CEO role can be something we do a little bit on the side, when it’s easy and convenient (meaning: a little bit well) because, well, doing something is better than doing nothing.

It’s not though.

Doing something poorly and inattentively, especially service work, can be worse than nothing, because we’re making promises we can’t keep to people to whom too many promises have already been broken.  Real lives, real hopes, real dreams walk through our doors every day, and if we don’t treat these dreams with the respect, the seriousness, and the professionalism they deserve, we and they are better off just staying home.

We can do this just a few hours a week, do this as part of something bigger, do this in whatever way works in our lives.  But no hobbies, please.  It’s just too important.

 

This entry was posted in non-profits and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to No hobbies

  1. Pingback: Something Is Not Better Than Nothing « Means Well Does Good / Impact Consulting & Philanthropic Advising

  2. Eric Winger says:

    Real lives, real hopes, real dreams walk through our doors every day, and if we don’t treat these dreams with the respect, the seriousness, and the professionalism they deserve, we and they are better off just staying home.

    My guess is that you are referring to philanthropic ventures, rather than personal volunteering.

    In my experience, it is often hard just to get the conversation about volunteering started, let alone keep it going with action and effort.

    I’d hate to think that you’re advocating staying home if we can’t solve a problem entirely, or if we don’t know if we can be dedicated enough to a cause.

  3. Erica Mills says:

    Eric–I totally see your point about it being hard to get people to volunteer and that we want to encourage volunteerism whenever possible. What I read in this post was a plea to those who are volunteering/investing to bring intention and respect when you do engage. Or, put another way, don’t show up just because you’re obligated, show up because you care deeply and passionately about the cause and the people.

    Sasha–Will look forward to hearing your thoughts!

  4. Sasha says:

    Erica, well said!! Indeed, Eric, this is exactly what I meant – that no matter if we have an hour to give or something is our life’s work, we must do it all with intentionally and respect….to borrow Erica’s perfect words. Of course none of us alone can solve “the whole problem,” and I’d never advocate for passivity (“staying home.”) But there’s a way we go about doing what we do that involves humility, listening, and acknowledging that we must bring our best, most attentive, most professional selves to this work.

  5. Eric Winger says:

    Thanks for the clarification … Sounds like you are saying “Bring your A game” when you volunteer. Dunno if I can always bring my A game, but I’m pretty sure I’m at least a B every time. :)

  6. Sasha says:

    Eric, as long as your intentions are in the right place I’m sure it is absolutely your “A game”!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s