Like it or not, everyone has limitations. I know we try to be good at everything, multitask 100 percent of the time, and stress ourselves to the max. But, if we’re going to be successful, we need to start acknowledging the things we can’t do, and the things we pretty much suck at.
Why is that important? Well, the moment you start working with a non-profit, they’re going to ask you to do all kinds of things. That’s their game plan. You donate a box of cookies and next they’ll ask you to hand out the glasses of milk. Then they’ll ask you to donate the ice cream for their next social, and so on and so forth until you wind up with a position on their Board and a commitment to pay Board dues. And most of us are just not ready for that yet.
I know how this works. I’ve been the one asking for the donated cookies and ice cream for over a decade now. I will take every opportunity to get you more engaged the moment you show the slightest hint of interest in our work. While I, and some of the more experienced leaders in the non-profit field, will tailor my asks to your interest and commitment level, there are some non-profits out there that just aren’t as big and savvy. They’ll ask you for anything, and you, being the lovely bighearted person that you are, will do it whether it’s your forte or not.
And why wouldn’t we take that opportunity? We Millennials love to help others. We love social impact. We’re actually re-shaping the way that non-profits talk to and engage their donors. Millennial donors won’t give more than once if the organization doesn’t clearly communicate their impact - i.e. how the donation changed people's lives. We want to know what our money and our volunteer hours are contributing to in the world.
If an organization can really get under our skin, lure us in with their sexy impact talk and data and stories that make our little hearts beat faster, then we’ll go the extra mike for them. However, if we’re going down a road that we’re not really good at or well-equipped for, that extra mile will be for nothing.
So, let’s make sure we know ourselves and our capabilities right from the start.
Make a list of the top ten things you hate to do or you’re not really good at. I’ll do it with you.
Things I’m not good at:
1. Being subtle
3. Being micro-managed
4. Detail-oriented data entry
7. Attending evening or weekend meetings in person….if I can’t call or skype in, count me out
8. Protesting…I got a kid to raise
9. Anything that requires a large amount of physical activity
10. Doing anything that requires substantial travel.
Your turn. It might feel painful at first, but after you get it all on paper, you’ll feel better at having owned up to your limitations. Write it/type it up and put it wherever you have the worksheet and exercises from last week.
Common objections to putting in the time and effort to save the world and why they don't get you off the hook:
Oh, but Rachel, I work two jobs just to pay back the massive student loan debt I acquired. I don’t have time to do anything like this!
Yeah, I been there. Look, when I was in my early twenties, I worked two jobs, went to the gym four days a week, slept eight hours a night, and I still volunteered for the Adopt a family program with Christmas in the City in Boston. You make time for the things that are important to you. Make this important. Because if you don’t those torch-bearing Nazis are going to start rallying in your neighborhood. Do you want that to happen? Do you?
Besides this guide is all about doing something that’s right for you…something that fits your level of time, talent and treasure to give. So don’t worry. You can do this. Just keep reading.
Oh, but Rachel, I’m an older Millennial, and I just had my first kid! I can’t go out to all those protests or do anything outside of nap time!
Congrats, but you’re not off the hook on this. In fact, you’re the one that should be fighting even harder than all the rest because what we do today is going to determine what kind of country your kid grows up in. You have to make sure you don’t hand off such huge, shitty problems to your kids to solve like the Boomers and Xers did to us. You need to give your kids a world that’s better than the one that we got.
Again, this manifesto only asks for what you can give. It asks for you to give as much as you can. To strain the limits of what you thought you could offer. But I’m not asking you to kill yourself doing it. So take a deep breath and keep going. We gotta do this for our kids, for our future.
Oh,but Rachel, I work at a small non-profit. I spend every waking hour trying to make the world a better place. I don’t have the money to be a big donor to other organizations, and I don’t have the time to give. Don’t I get points for what I do already? Do I really have to do more?
Well, you picked up this book, so obviously your subconscious thinks you do need to do more. And you should. We need every one of us to be all-in. And non-profit leaders have the skills and expertise to shape a movement and give it life. You have more to give and you know it or you would have stopped reading about three paragraphs ago. So, let’s not put off the inevitable.
Okay. Is everyone done whining and procrastinating?
Good. Now let’s go.
Take a look around you. Scroll through your Facebook and Twitter pages. You’ll find dozens of Millennials who are doing awesome things in the world. Our generation has been dubbed the next Great Generation because we have untapped potential to do incredible things and we’re the largest generation since the Boomers.
And we’re already changing the way things get done. Companies are bending to our will because we’re the future of their earning reports. And we’re their talent. Millennials don’t just want to work anywhere. We want to work in companies that are doing good for the world. These days, if a company doesn’t have a Corporate Social Responsibility profile, Employee Resource Groups and recycling within an inch of everyone’s desk, the likelihood of holding onto young talent is zilch.
We want our 40-50 hrs per week to reflect our values. Millennials primarily identify as Liberal Democrats, we care about climate change, recycling is second nature and Captain Planet taught us well.
So, if we’re such a force for good and we can bend institutions to our collective will, why is everything so shitty right now?
Well, one big problem that we have is that we don’t really know what to do or how to help. There are a billion non-profits, programs, projects and crowdfunding sites vying for our attention. It’s overwhelming. As we said earlier, there are a lot of big problems to tackle, so what do I work on first? Where do I turn? How much can I really devote to fixing these monstrous issues when I work 50+ hours a week???
It’s okay. Don’t hyperventilate. I got your back.
Instead of looking to the plethora of opportunities and the glut of organizations, let’s take stock of what You have. Yes, you. Get out your phone/tablet/laptop/pen and paper/chisel and stone and write down what you’re good at. Just the top ten.
Here, I’ll do it with you. I’m good at:
Not bad. How about you? What ten things are you good at? Write them down. Or use this handy dandy worksheet I put together for you! It's at the bottom of this post.
Having some trouble? Can’t find ten things your good at? Let me help.
As recently as June and July of 2017, studies by GenForward show that Millennials are increasingly tuning out on issues of race and equality. The poll found that young people are divided along racial and ethnic lines in their concerns about racism and police brutality. Millennials, particularly white and Asian millennials, are sleeping on issues of race.
Our generation is also not particularly fond of capitalism or socialism, according to a Harvard Public Opinion Project in 2016. White millennials are also the least enthusiastic or optimistic about the American Dream.
Basically, most studies that come about Millennials point to the fact that we really don’t like or care about much of anything. We’re idealists. Millennials want to have an impact and make choices driven by our values, and we often see direct community engagement (like community service)as more important and influential than political engagement. Increasingly, we are shutting down, tuning out on social issues and turning up our music instead.
This is a stupid thing to do. So put that galaxy/note/iphone thing away and listen up. No one is going to fix the world but us. Let’s face it. Baby boomers were all talk in the 60’s and now they’re content to let us drown in the problems they can’t solve. The Earth’s warming with catastrophic results, social security won’t be there for us when we’re old and gray, student loan debt is ballooning with no end in sight and we have a shorter life expectancy than previous generations. The Boomers and the Xers haven’t done jack for us. Look at Congress. It’s a mess. And do our parents and grandparents do anything about it? Yeah, they keep electing the same ineffectual leaders that have been in office failing to do the hard work of compromising to get shit done. Thanks, ya’ll.
So let’s face up to some cold hard facts. IF WE DON’T FIX IT, NO ONE WILL.
Okay, now don’t panic. Take a breath. We don’t have to solve everything at once. Focus. One thing at a time.
It’s a scary mountain to face with all the things we need to fix. Most of us have looked in every direction, read every headline since the 2016 election and said “Oh, God. What do I do? How can I fix it? Where do I even start?”
I know. I know. Women’s rights. Climate change. Nuclear war. Shoring up foreign relations. Education. The list goes on and on. It’s enough to make anyone curl up in a little ball and cry.
Let’s tackle one big problem at a time.
It’s time to put your rally cap on. This is your step by step manifesto for kicking a** and getting this country and the world back on track.