March 23, 2020
The sun has set on our “what was normal for us” life a month or so ago. We’re in the dark and have no sense of when the dawn may arrive. This is a very different night and way darker than we can remember. Polarity has changed, the ground under us continues to move, and the boundaries keep shifting. Even the compass is having trouble finding true north. This night, will it ever end?
While I navigate my virus anxiety, I’ve started to hear a new theme coming forward. The conversations are about creating solutions. Not lingering in despair. It’s from the Governors, Mayors, small business leaders, community nonprofits, and normal citizen like us. As Mary Oliver said so eloquently in her poem, “The Journey”, “One day you finally knew what you had to do, and began”.
Last week, I knew what I had to do and began.
1. Used my APP
My app is to Acknowledge People Personally. It happens first with the noticing. Taking the time to observe people doing extraordinary things and then saying something. In our home, we have two oil tanks for heating and previously had a problem with sludge (call me for clarification). Most times, the oil delivery firm just plugs in and fills our tanks. When our oil delivery person came on Monday, he first asked me if the problem was solved before he filled our tanks. I thanked him but that wasn’t enough. I called up our delivery company and told them how impressed I was with the asking of that question, and that I wanted to share my extremely positive feedback with our driver and their whole company. The voice on the other end of the phone was exuberant. Wow!
A successful day, for me, is when I can use my APP multiple times. Your APP is already inside you and needs no download. Notice. Acknowledge. Repeat. Where do you plan to use it this week?
2. Used my Gifts
I love the movie “Pay it Forward”, but last week, I wanted to Pay It Now. I asked myself what I could do to use my gifts? One of my gifts is cookie baking. Baking is ointment for my soul. The sharing of those cookies is what really makes my heart soar.
I decided to mail out “cookie care” packages to family and friends. Baked 9 dozen cookies on Wednesday 3/18 (Coffee Toffee Chocolate Chip and Chocolate Chip cookies with 4 types of chocolate), wrote personal notes with my wife, Linda, packaged them up, and then went to USPS on Thursday to send them. There’s great joy in the baking but it’s the cookie conversations after they receive them that’s the real dessert; deep, delicious and meaningful. Connect and reconnect. How sweet.
Everyone has their own unique gifts to give. How will you deliver yours this week?
3. I’m ready to put my finger in the dyke
I’ve been in the Outsourced CFO business since 1998. Although billable hours are important, helping those in need is my real mission. That’s why I work almost exclusively with social enterprises and nonprofits. My personal bottom line is that I want to make people and organizations successful. If I do that, the money will follow.
I volunteered my time this week with 3 organizations that support nonprofits, one nationally and two in Berkshire County (MA), where we live. I’m ready to provide advice and insight about (1) Revising your Operating Budget, (2) Updating your Cash Flow Forecast or (3) Financial Contingency Planning. Regardless of good intentions, most nonprofits, in a normal environment, have less than 6 months of cash available in reserve. Any virus impact scenario you think about shows many nonprofits may need to cease operations. If I can put my finger in that dike, if I can work with others to stop one nonprofit from closing, imagine what all of us can do together.
Find a way to use your numerous skills sets to help your foodbank, homeless shelter, farmers market, small business or other organization in need. The dike is precarious and could break, just like many organizations. The real danger is sitting on the sidelines.
Where is the place where you can make a measurable difference for an organization this week? I need you to join me.
The phrase “It’s darkest before the dawn” is attributed to an English Theologian in 1650.
It means that things always seem the worst right before they improve. That’s where we are now.
As David Whyte says in the poem, “Sweet Darkness”, “Sometimes it takes the darkness and the sweet confinement of your aloneness to learn that anything or anyone that does not bring you alive is too small for you”.
In his book, “David Whyte: Essentials”, he said, “Sweet Darkness was written in a kind of defiant praise of this difficult time of not knowing, a letter of invitation to embrace the beauty of the night and of the foundational human experience of not being able to see, as actually another horizon, and perhaps the only horizon out of which a truly new revelation can emerge”.
The ripple effect you create with your actions is profound. Let the darkness embolden you to make a difference in your life and the lives of others and small business. Isn’t that what being human is all about?
Do you see that small crack of light on the horizon? I do.