She wanted to pick up some UNICEF things.
We arranged to. I gathered the memories. The glass jars. The ribbon. The fliers. The meeting notes. Advocacy folder. Trick or Treat Boxes. Brochures and handouts galore. Paint, markers, brushes, and 5 years of history and documentation, all in neat boxes to be put in her car and taken away.
I talked her through what I was giving her, reading her silence, and surprised no thoughtful questions came up.
I asked about the first event that would happen this fall. The Cat's Back, she responded. I asked about their retreat. It didn't happen due to busy schedules and a few folks working on the days she tried to set forth. I suggested that if 2 or 3 people can't make it, so be it, move forward without them, but circle back when they are available to let them know that progress is definitely occurring.
I mentioned some officers expressed concern about the lack of momentum. I might have hit a stonewall in her, but no matter, I'd rather be the one to bring it to her attention because she needs a wake up call. It sounded like it was the first time she heard about it anyway.
It's tough to say these things. But really, it's bigger than all of us individuals. The cause, the children, and the humanity gets lost in translation when we talk about leadership, the colors that should be on the UNICEF flyer, and not being able to make it to officer meetings because of an exam.
UNICEF operates in the business of behavioral change management. This is one of THE hardest things to achieve. To change someone's perception, ingrained belief systems, and ultimately their behavior. This is what UNICEF's business model revolves around - emotion. Empathy. Believing that out of all the causes in the world - not even humanitarian ones - but that outfit you need, a few drinks with the guys after work, a litany of things you can spend your money on - UNICEF should be the one you spend your money and emotion on. It is in direct competition with every other cause (humanitarian, medical, health, luxurious, or otherwise) and in the fray, tries to say STOP. But how loud is the voice when everything clamors louder, 24/7? Think of a busy highway versus the sound of one person.
Not many people hear the voice. This person says, "Look at these children that exist under your watch. They are hungry. Thirsty. Emaciated. Uneducated. Tired. We ask, will you do something?" And they expect anyone that will listen to say yes. But before people say yes, they have to hear the whole pitch. In this ADD-centric world we live in, how many people do? Not many. There are so many that would turn this guilt into avoidance, and avoidance into self-loathing and turn a blind eye towards it.
I have to let them pave their own path. I think it takes the strongest people in the world to carry this torch. I pray that it strengthens them like it did to me, after a year of being in a position where I not only had to hold up my members, but my own officers, and myself too. It galvanized me into the incredibly strong person I am today. They need not be afraid to call out to their fellow officers and say, "I think I have lost my humanity in this cause, will you help me find it? If I don't see it, how on earth will I help others?"
This team needs to learn how to ask for help. A team that's so talented, but so busy. They are going down the path of setting everything else above UNICEF as a priority -- effectively making these children... invisible.
I will help UNICEF in my own way. A way where I can sleep at night. A way where I don't lose years off my life because of the stress. A way where I can be, happy. One of the most powerful things I've been through in my life, this new team needs to look at this opportunity as a gift. A gift to see what they're made of, and how to overcome real obstacles, and to find the humanity in themselves.