Making a Difference

I am going to a meeting today to decide the fate of a volunteer group I have been working with since 2013. I have very mixed feelings about it.

On one hand, it feels like defeat to disband now. There are so many things we wanted to do. We developed some good relationships within our community – but there is so much we wanted to do that have not been accomplished yet. Large systems now move slower than the glaciers, which are moving (or, melting) faster than ever. Are we saying these things can’t be done? Or aren’t worthy of being done? Or maybe it’s that WE can’t get these things done.

Women’s March, January 2017

On the other hand, I am tired. Our founding member and leader has announced she is stepping down at the end of this year. A couple of other members have said they can only commit to a staying on for a short time – up to a year max. That leaves me and one other person in the main group. Even though my life has simplified over the last couple of years, I feel I don’t have the energy to pull this caravan myself.

The inner critic (demon) clears its throat and asks, “What are you doing then? You want so badly to make an impact somewhere, but you’re not doing anything, especially if you give up on this one effort… Can you call yourself a community advocate?”

This sits heavily on my heart. I have put a lot of energy into wanting to make a positive change, but feel I have never done enough. I told myself if was okay to be selfish for a while – since I haven’t had the luxury of following my own interests before now. I could come back to community service – or incorporate it into the interests I’m pursuing. It just hasn’t happened yet. And I still had this one effort that made me feel connected.

Maybe this effort needs to fail for me clarify my goals and give me the space to re-invent myself as a community advocate.

Our society is so afraid of failure and I am certainly not immune. So I looked for some inspiration around failure. Here are a few quotes I found.

“Remember your dreams and fight for them. You must know what you want from life. There is just one thing that makes your dream become impossible: the fear of failure. Never forget your Personal Legend. Never forget your dreams. . . .”

Paulo Coelho

And, from one of my favorite creativity gurus, Pixar, I found these two quotes from the book Creativity, Inc. which was a very good read.

“In a fear-based, failure-averse culture, people will consciously or unconsciously avoid risk. They will seek instead to repeat something safe that’s been good enough in the past. Their work will be derivative, not innovative. But if you can foster a positive understanding of failure, the opposite will happen.”

Ed Catmull from “Creativity Inc.”

“Mistakes aren’t a necessary evil. They aren’t evil at all. They are an inevitable consequence of doing something new.”

Ed Catmull from “Creativity Inc.”

So today I will look at this upcoming discussion as a way to try doing something new, remember my personal legend and my dream, and to look at failure without fear.

We’ll see how it goes!

2 thoughts on “Making a Difference

  1. Is the group coming to an end really a failure? Things change, people move on, this is life! And yes, you have full permission to be selfish for awhile. It will make you more powerful to come back to helping the community when you are ready.


    1. Thank you Jennifer! As it turns out, the group is not ending. I grieved a bit last night that it wasn’t what it had been and I wasn’t sure of my place in its future. This morning I had an inspiration of something I would like to focus on. And it is very possible that this group can be helpful in this endeavor. I think I will blog about it more soon.


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