Now is the time to pitch for your impossible dream
Over the many years I’ve been writing these articles, I’ve developed the habit of taking the dog out for a walk first, to let my mind relax and wander, and come up with something I want to say, so that when I get back, I can sit straight down and just write. Today, I took a call halfway through that walk from one of the CEOs in my non-profit community, and today’s topic fell right into my lap.
She runs one of the UK’s biggest volunteering organisations and so she is right at the heart of the current efforts to organise and mobilise hundreds of thousands of trained volunteers, to support the vaccination programme, to alleviate the wider pressures on communities and social care, and to help get the health service through this extraordinary period of pressure.
She hasn’t taken a day off over Christmas or New Year, nor as far as I can tell, for several months before that. But on the call, she was an absolute bundle of energy. She briefly updated me on progress, and we talked through the next steps in trying to bring together and harness the collective firepower of a vast coalition of voluntary organisations of all shapes and sizes. And as I hung up the phone, I couldn’t help but think: cometh the hour, cometh the woman.
To say she has stepped up brilliantly to meet an extraordinary challenge is an understatement. Raising a volunteer army from scratch is no mean feat but having to work with and through so many other organisations to do it, makes even that challenge far more complex. Collaborations are never easy - even in small coalitions, everyone has their own interests, strategies, stakeholders and, yes, egos; and dysfunction is only ever one small slip away.
In any normal circumstance, this vision, of bringing together such a vast and broad array of diverse leaders and their teams, to work collectively and non-competitively, in concert and in harmony, would be an impossible dream. But these are not normal circumstances.
This is a one-off. A defining point in time. This is the moment of transition between the pre-Covid world and the post-Covid world. This is the time for impossible dreams.
Because here’s the thing: everything is impossible until someone works out how it can be done. And right now, in this moment of flux, where right across the board we are having to change how we work, how we live, how we think; the limits on what could be possible are at their lowest level in a generation or more.
So, let me ask you this: if you had the resources, if you had the means, if you were guaranteed the rub of the green and the roll of the dice; if all the barriers were stripped away, what could your organisation become twelve months from now?
Forget about the problems, the pitfalls, the reasons why it could never happen. This is not the pragmatic dream. This is the impossible dream. How could your organisation transform your market, your industry, your world? What could it, and what could you personally become, if all those limits and constraints were taken away?
Think about it. Write it down if it helps. It might feel like the worst time in the world to be thinking so positively, optimistically, dreamily. But now is exactly the right time to start building out that impossible dream; to start working through what it might take, what help you’d need, and how you could make it come to life.
Because there’s no question that the moment is here. The question is, will you step up?