Follow the path of the unsafe, independent thinker. Expose your ideas to the dangers of controversy. Speak your mind and fear less the label of ‘crackpot’ than the stigma of conformity. And on issues that seem important to you, stand up and be counted at any cost.
Many nonprofit organizations, like most other groups, want to avoid controversy. Controversy is not always good for the bottom line. So they avoid taking a stand- trying to walk that very fine line of being all thing to all people. I am not sure about the rest of y’all but I tried that in my 20’s . Trying to be perfect, and keep everyone happy. Did I mention that by the time I reached my early 30’s the stress and strain from walking this tighrope put me in the hospital? I was sick, broken and honestly not good for anyone. In the end instead of making everyone happy, I made no one happy…. not even myself. I was pretty ineffective.
Many people who work in nonprofits are highly educated and they see the nuances of problems- being in the trenches every day will do that for you—which can also makes it hard to take a stand. They know that the world is not black and white. They understand that there is always a qualifier to what they say and the work they do. There is nothing wrong with understanding that all social issues are complex.
But there is mostly everything right, with taking a stand. Drawing a line in the sand.
Following the path of the unsafe independent thinker
Because many of the problems your organization are currently working on are complex. Complex does not mean impossible. If it matters then as an organization you can, and should speak your truth. That truth that only you can speak. If the issue is important enough your voice will ring clear. You will do it professionally. You will do it with integrity. You will do it with honor. And you will change lives.
And more than likely it will produce some controversy. Because unsafe independent thinkers have always produced controversy, but they have also produced change. They have created movements.
The stigma of conformity
Wikipedia says that Conformityis the process by which an individual’s attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors are conditioned by what is conceived to be what other people might perceive. This influence occurs in both small groups and society as a whole, and it may be the result of subtle unconscious influences, or direct and overt social pressure. Organizations like people conform from a desire to achieve a sense of security. I am here to tell you a secret … Security is an illusion. Nothing last forever…nothing good and nothing bad. Security is not safety. Its not continuity. Its not reliability. Helen Keller once said that avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Innovation is birthed from a place of non conformity. There is no security, only opportunity.
Stand up and be counted