The Day After

by Joan Garry

Today, after a Presidential election that is too close to call, you need patience. But nonprofit leaders aren’t the most patient of folks.

They say that patience is a virtue. I don’t know who ‘they’ are, but I have never been entirely onboard with that. The reason is pretty simple.

Because nonprofit staff, board, volunteers, donors – I believe them to be society’s real heroes. Heroes like you. I consider you virtuous. But patient? Not so much.

Allow me to tease this out for you. For as long as you can remember, you’ve been unable to sit on the sidelines. You have been propelled to jump on the field. It may have started early on. Maybe you stood up for someone being bullied. Or shared your lunch at school with someone who said they forgot it (but you knew better).

I know you because I have been you. And in my work to fuel and feed your leadership, I feel this same sense of impatience. If I come up with one piece of practical advice in a private coaching session, I am a woman with a mission to share that advice in a blog post with you. Sometimes I can barely wait.

So I get it.

And I know you do too. Impatience fuels you, doesn’t it? In a way, it’s your superpower. It drives you to advocate for a cause, right a wrong, help a neighbor, level the playing field, fight for what is fair and just. Patient? Not you. Otherwise you might have sat on the sidelines instead of jumping on the field. This kind of work DEMANDS impatience.

Yes, impatience is your superpower.

Just not today.

Today, the day after a Presidential election that is too close to call, you need patience. And a big healthy dose of it. You went to bed not knowing. You woke up not knowing. And we are in for more not knowing.

It’s uncomfortable and unsettling. I’m sorry. I know you don’t live easily in this space. Me neither.

So my post today is not long and not complicated. I’m writing it because it might help you. And if I write it down, maybe I’ll help myself too. Because I’m struggling with staying patient today.

So what can we do with all that impatience we’re feeling? We can work to be as patient as we can. AND we need to point all our impatience toward productive pursuits.

Let’s start with patience. Last night I went to bed promptly at 11 and got lost in a novel for an hour. On a Kindle, not an IPad. Difference? My mind could drift but I couldn’t google anything. Fuel your patience with a walk or with music. Go look at something beautiful. Can you just sit outside in the sunlight with your eyes closed for 10 minutes, if it’s warm enough? I’d say exercise but I work out and even I can’t even imagine getting on the elliptical.

I asked members of my online community, the Nonprofit Leadership Lab, to help me put together a Spotify playlist I could share with you. It’s music about patience. Waiting. Hope.

Perhaps it will help?

But you’re still you, which means you’re probably not feeling particularly calm and relaxed right now. Now that you’ve managed your impatience to a degree, what do you do with what’s left?

Well here’s the thing. The state of the election doesn’t change your agenda for today. You have important work to do. Go do some of that. Turn your impatient energy to your heroic pursuits. And know we are here for you.

And please stay safe.

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