With all the buzz about the upcoming Star Wars movie in December, this self-professed Star Wars nerd (no, really, come check out my office sometime) decided that it would be a good idea to use Star Wars examples to explain issues and topics for nonprofits. Consider it a mini-series to get you even more excited about the upcoming film and also hopefully give some insight into important topics that we deal with in our work.
Nonprofit wisdom according to Yoda
“Do or do not. There is no try.” One of Yoda’s most famous quotes applies to so many aspects of our lives. In the world of nonprofits, we can sometimes fall into the trap that we are “trying” to fix problem x, and we often use that exactly wording. We are trying to reduce poverty. We are trying to keep kids in school. We are trying to get people to live healthier lives. I think we need to stop using that language and take a lesson from Yoda. We are DOING those things, not merely trying. All of our efforts, even if appears to be minimal gains at times, are DOING something and are affecting the issues for the positive. We need to start taking credit for the good work we are doing and not apologize or downplay it.
Another great quote of Yoda’s that I think has a good application to the work of nonprofit is this: “Train yourself to let go of everything you fear to lose.” I bring up this quote to change gears a bit and encourage all nonprofits to really let go of our fears and our silo mentality and learn to work together. Our fears of working together and losing control or not getting our piece of the pie is hampering the long-term impact we need to do to make a lasting impact. If we can find a way to train ourselves to let go of the things we’re so worried about losing, perhaps we can work together and come up with lasting solutions to problems we have been attempting to solve for years. If we can go forward with fewer fears, we will be able to DO more.
Chad Mager is an Associate at Great Lakes Center for Youth Development. He holds a Masters in Training and Development from Northern Michigan University. You can find him collaborating with our partners in Baraga, Delta, Houghton, Keweenaw, Menominee and Schoolcraft counties, in addition to providing technical assistance to youth serving organizations. He is a self proclaimed Star Wars geek.