President Obama was right when he reminded us that we can accomplish our dreams

President Barack Obama spoke Tuesday to the whole country… yet so many parts of what he said had  particular resonance for nonprofit organizations.  These lines, in particular, stood out for me:

“Now, there are some who question the scale of our ambitions — who suggest that our system cannot tolerate too many big plans. Their memories are short. For they have forgotten what this country has already done; what free men and women can achieve when imagination is joined to common purpose, and necessity to courage.”

Whatever work we do with nonprofits like yours — whether we are helping to rebuild a struggling board, or facilitating a new direction through strategic or fundraising planning — we are constantly pushing  people in organizations like yours not to be afraid of articulating the big idea. For it is that “common purpose” , the great “ambition” of  societal change that really matters. We ask our clients to think deep, to challenge themselves to imagine how they can really make that change happen, not just by continuing what they’ve been been doing, but how, through innovation, partnership, best practices, and insight and courage, this change might come to be.

As our new President reminds, never dismiss the change you envision as a quixotic dream. Make it something that you can feel, taste, smell and hunger for so much that your entire organization pulses to the driving beat of the future you imagine.

If you can see the future in your mind, and you commit to making it happen, you will reignite the passion and belief that has powered progressive social movements for hundreds of years. All it takes next is will and courage.

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