Over coffee yesterday an old friend told me she was leaving her job as CEO of a nonprofit focused on public school reform. She said she wanted to get a job in “Corporate America.” Said she couldn’t do it any more. She was burned out and, worse, she was “numb.”
She described a lunch with her organization’s board chair. ”While pushing my salad around , what I was really thinking about was retiling my bathroom. I was there in body only lured by visions of imported ceramic bathroom tile. We are talking about the future of our education system here – something I used to be really passionate about – and I there I was just going through the motions.”
In philanthropy, this is a question we all need to consider. How does saving and changing lives turn into cynicism or burn out? How could creating and nurturing partnerships to do this work together lead to frustration and a desire to escape?
One of my favorite quotes is from Marcel Proust: ”The journey of discovery lies not in new vistas, but in having new eyes.” I sent this to my friend after our meeting and I encouraged her to keep a little journal. (Check out SIM) Take a minute at the end of each day and reflect on the conversations she had, the connections she made, the new things she learned and discovered.
Try it. Maybe not in the moment, but at the end of the day. You will start to feel a shift in how you’re relating to your life and the lives of those around you. You will start to recognize how creative your life, and your work, already is. You will see your world through fresh, new creative eyes.