Sunday, August 31, 2008

Keeping One's Eye on the Prize

As I wrote earlier, this space has a new competitor for my attention. He's nine weeks old today, furry, feisty, and a mix of incredible joy and frustration (my black lab puppy, Dewey).

Yesterday, as I was on potty run #6582934, pulling him out of Daddy's flowers one more time, it occurred to me that my mission as Dewey's guardian is very much like a nonprofit's journey toward fulfilling its mission.

The process is a long one, and there are challenges of all sizes. Some are easy to address, some inspire us to try harder, others we simply hope to survive. Just when we think we have no more energy left to stick with it, we'll experience a breakthrough. It may not be a large one, but it's enough to confirm that our efforts are worthwhile.

In the end, I know that persistence and a focus on the end result -- in Dewey's case, a healthy, confident dog who will be a companion for the rest of his life -- is worth the trouble.

It may be on a different scale, but I've experienced that same assurance in nonprofit settings. The mission may feel impossible to attain, but it's important to always keep one's eye on our reason for being there: to work toward its fulfillment. Steps may feel tiny when compared to the larger prize we can see on the horizon. But they move us forward.

Little stumbles will happen. Occasionally, we'll take big steps backward. But in the long run, as long as we keep our purpose in front of us and work toward forward motion, we're in good shape.

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