When Nonprofit Unicorns Have Bad Days

And… I’ve got nothin’. Actually I have a lot of stuff, but it all sounds pithy and preachy and over-thought. For the past two days I’ve been trying to channel the witty, inspirational version of me, and she’s just not responding. My unicorn is hiding under a rock, and there’s a troll on top of that rock shouting that everyone else can do this better than me.

Do you ever have days like these?

There’s nothing particularly bad going on in my life, just a lot of new. New business, new clients, and new projects. Lots of changes and lots of challenges. Which makes me just long to stay in the nice cozy space under the rock, perhaps with a cup of tea.

So from my cozy yet cramped writing spot I’m writing down a few things I’ve lived and learned over the past few years. Perhaps you are also having one of those days, and can benefit from my self-directed pep-talk.

Reminder #1: No one died today (at least under my care).

Back when I was a wide-eyed 20-something who knew nothing about behavior management and had a wicked perfectionist streak, I somehow found myself in charge of 18 five-year olds. One of the most important lessons from that time came from my school director, on a day when I was a puddle of anxiety and guilt for not having a class of model citizens. The conversation went something like this:

Director: Did any of the kids die today?

Me: Um, noooo?

Director: Good, then you’re doing okay.

So what if I didn’t get everything on my to do list done? So what if somewhere in this blog I am missing a comma or have two spaces after a period? (because yes, I still do that) No one died today so I must be doing something right.

Reminder #2: Life without challenges is boring.

In 2016 I went through an exceptionally tough year. I lost my dad, got divorced, and my daughter went through a toxic social relationship. What did I learn from it? Today I decided to revisit my journal to remind myself (and to prove that sometimes I’m wise).

Reassured by this bit of history, I’ve made a solid plan:

1. Have a cup of tea (Harney & Sons Hot Cinnamon Spice is my current go-to)

2. Call a friend

3. Sit down and pour my angst out to the 200 people on my mailing list.

Through this magical advice, or maybe just through the passage of time and letting my fingers type the stream of consciousness in my brain, whatever I need to do or say or write will happen. And then I’ll be able to look back on it, say “I did that” and see the outline of my footprint on the step forward I took in life.

Reminder #3: Unicorns are human too (aka The Nonprofit Unicorn Mantra)

The Unicorn Mantra reminds me that I don’t need to know everything and it can’t all be easy. And it gives me the much-needed levity to not take myself or anyone else too seriously. If you need more laughs today than I can provide here, I encourage you to visit the website of the marvelous Vu Le (author of the Unicorn Mantra), at www.nonprofitaf.com. Vu might just be my personal unicorn in these times of need.

I’m not sure how incredibly informative this piece of writing is, but maybe one of you fellow unicorns will relate. Maybe you’ll find someone else having an off day and inspire them to do the same. Maybe you’ll feel sorry for me and print out the Unicorn Mantra as a poster for the wall above my desk. All I can say is that in these times of uncertainty sometimes you just have to trust yourself, get the ideas out, and keep moving forward.

While the space under the rock is known, it gets awful cramped down there, and the world outside will give you a lot more room to let your unicorn light shine.


If any part of this was informative and/or entertaining for you, and you are not already on my mailing list, you can join now on the CONTACT page to receive regular posts on nonprofit development ideas (and brief voyages into my personal life). While you’re there, if you want to dive in further and get help with grant writing or fundraising plans, email me at jennie@nonprofitgardener.com. You can also connect with me on Facebook and LinkedIn.

2018-01-25T13:52:35+00:00