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.