Last winter, I decided I’d like to have some ripe, fresh garden produce. Sun-kissed, gorgeous, state-fair winning produce.
I wasn’t able to start my seeds in January, because the time got away from me. I threw them in, with a heating pad, sometime in March. Then I promptly forgot about them and let them wither.
I restarted in April, but then I over watered them and they grew a fuzzy but amicable seeming mold.
At last, in May, I succeeded with my sprouts. They were finally perking up and ready to be transplanted. Only I forgot about the transplant until they were root-bound and I lost many of them. The ones that survived seemed to struggle with my infrequent weeding and watering, but they did flower.
One July day, I really, really needed a tomato. In particular? I wanted a tomato-cucumber salad with feta. I went out to my garden, which the internet swore should be beginning to fruit and found nothing.
I did the only logical thing. I hollered, ‘FRUIT! FRUIT!” I harvested anyway! I began picking off the closest thing the plant had to offer. Stems, buds, tiny fruit. How infuriating that it refused to be delicious and exactly what I needed.
Ridiculous, right? Of course!
But every single day, I watch social change makers do the same thing. They fail to cultivate effective relationships with supporters until they critically need their support.
How do you know if this is you? Are you:
Using social media only when you have something to promote?
Networking and coalition-building only when an action is required?
Grant writing only when facing acute needs?
These are just a few of the common symptoms, but there are many flavors.
Focusing on what needs doing immediately, and not what we’ll need in six months, prevents us from being all we can be. To focus on putting one step in front of the other, without your eyes on your destination, is sure to cause disaster.
Instead, think about who you want to be a few months from now. Well supported? With a strong audience? A responsive donor base? Then make a plan. It may mean slowing down, but that’s better than burning out.