Reality check: No one cares about your organization.
If that’s a bit of an overstatement, it’s not by much. Yes, if you are the founder of a social enterprise, you obviously care a lot about the organization. And if you’re the owner of a socially conscious business, or the CEO of a traditional nonprofit – you live and breathe the care and feeding of that organization.
But the rest of the world? They may like the work you’re doing, believe in it, even help out – but when it comes to passion for your organization, there are only a handful of people with that passion.
There is, however, something people DO care about. They care about their communities.
People may not care passionately about your literacy group, but they indeed care about having a community where everyone can read. They may not care about your clinic, but they certainly care about having a community where everyone is healthy.
Focusing on the Community
For years, we’ve had it drummed into our heads that our organizations must survive. Traditional community benefit / nonprofit orgs attend classes in building sustainable organizations. Social enterprise is all about sustainability – building business practice into their work, in the hopes of creating financial independence.
And every business school teaches how to compete in a dog-eat-dog world. How to win. How to survive.
What would change, then, if we stopped talking about this thing that we’re taught to focus on – the survival of our organizations – this thing that no one cares about but you? What would change if you started instead talking about your community’s success rather than your own?
If you run a community benefit nonprofit org or social enterprise…
- What if you engaged others in conversation NOT about your organization, but about the community you love?
- What if you asked every person you encountered, including (and especially) your “competition” what a healthy, vibrant community might look like as it relates to your mission?
- What if you vowed to link arms with every single person and organization who cares about the same thing as you?
- What would that make possible?
If you run a socially conscious business…
- What if instead of trying to beat out the competition, you worked with them to create the real impact you all want?
- What if you jointly marketed your work, jointly talked to the press, jointly focused on elevating the conversation about the impact you are hoping to create?
- What if you then went back to your own store, and focused on the best way your particular business could help accomplish that?
- What could you all accomplish together that none of you could accomplish on your own?
- How could your own work thrive within that collective strength?
- And what might THAT make possible?
Think about individuals in your own life who are always focused on themselves. Are they happy? Do people want to be around them?
Sometimes, however, one of those individuals has a life-changing experience that shifts their focus to the lives of those around them. And suddenly, they find that all the blessings they had longed for in their self-absorbed state simply come to them, as if by magic.
And of course, it’s not magic. It’s simply the power of our very human social natures, the power of what happens when we connect beyond our own selfish survival needs.
The same holds true of the strength your organization or business. When we focus on the collective well-being of our whole community, and that becomes the lens through which we see everything, success happens. It happens in ways we never pictured. The work is more joyful. There is less to worry about.
Because when we’re all in it together, focused on everyone living healthy, vibrant, humane lives – we all win. And how great would that be for your organization’s success?
Photo Credit: Ezagren via Wikimedia Commons