Tag Archives: Leadership

The Impending Miami Changemaker Collapse

The Impending Miami Changemaker Collapse

I don’t really know if this should be called a #LateNightRant or just a #MondayMorning #RealDeal, but here goes. This is something I have been mulling over for quite a while now. Anyway, sit back, this is going to be a long one.

You all know I tend to overshare, and about two months ago, I overshared about my battle with anxiety and stress. I was near collapse at the time. Many people gave me much great advice, some of which I have followed and am greatly improved. However, that is not the point of this post.

Because of my propensity to share and be open about my trials, it seems that many people are willing to be open with about theirs. What I learned due to my sharing is that not only is my condition not unique, it is not even unusual. It is practically commonplace. It seems that there is an epidemic of burnout spreading throughout Miami’s changemakers and do-gooders.

When I shared my problems, other people started to share theirs with me. Once I started noticing a trend, I dug deeper. When I would run into someone I know, which happens often, of course, and we exchanged the common courtesies of, “How are you!?” and they would inevitably respond with, “I’m great!” I would ask again, “But, how are you really?” More times than not, the response was different and not near as positive Then, knowing that they knew about my fight with anxiety, I would ask if they ever dealt with the same issue. Because I had shared my problems, they felt comfortable sharing with me, as well. The majority, the vast majority of people who I asked said that they indeed were fighting the same battle as I.

Also, after co-founding an organization dedicated to supporting those changemakers, I have become much more familiar with the processes that many of them operate under. I have been researching the funding process and have spoken with many of these organizations and changemakers about their experience. I have also been studying the formula that local funders use to assign funds to refine our own processes in obtaining said funds. I have spoken with many, many changemakers and leaders regarding their experiences. I have probably spoken directly and honestly to more changemakers than almost anyone else in Miami.

Again, as an oversharer, people are much more willing to share the actual truth with me than they are with most people, especially those in power. More on that later.

So. Here is the trend I am seeing, there is an impending epidemic of changemaker collapse coming in the next few years unless we significantly improve the way things work. There are so many more people working on so many different aspects of the community than there were just 10 years ago, not to mention 20 or 30, and the support infrastructure has not kept up. We need to restructure the institutional support systems for the changemakers. There are not enough resources to support what everyone is doing, even though it is all good work. The resources we do have are significantly misallocated.

The current state of affairs is not sustainable. All of this changemaking is wonderful, but we see people drop out all the time due to inability to continue and we need to look at what changes need to take place in order to better manage our resources. These are issues that we are currently socializing to bring it into the light and really start talking about it on a large scale. Think about it for a while, and we can go into more depth later.


Leadership part 1

I am planning on doing quite a bit of writing about leadership, so I have called this part 1. I am not sure how many parts there will be, but we will see how far this takes us.

First off, there is one defining characteristic of a leader. A characteristic without which, a person is absolutely not a leader. All other characteristics are secondary to this, and may define the type of leader that a person is. But, this particular characteristic is necessary for a person to be called a leader.

Any guesses?
Vision? Nope.
Charisma? Useful, but not necessary.
Intelligence? Definitely not required.
Wisdom? Hah!

The single defining characteristic of a leader is decisiveness. The ability to make a decision. Not just any decision, but a decision that affects numerous people and the consequences that come with it.

Think about this example. Many of you work in an office with others. Oftentimes you are probably talking about going to lunch with your co-workers. How often does this situation come up? You are all sitting around, burning your lunchtime, everyong throwing out suggestions of where to go, but none of them are being chosen. Everyone is hemming and hawing, “Oh, let’s go to this,” or “hey, I hear this place is great,” but no place is chosen. Why?

Finally, one person stands up and says something like, “I’m going to head over to that new Pho place, who wants to come?” Everyone does, of course. Guess who is the leader. If you pay attention to your social interactions such as this, you will notice that it is often, though not always, the same person who finally gets the group moving.

To be a leader, you absolutely have to make decisions. And not just decisions for yourself, decisions for the group. If you are one of the people hemming and hawing, you are not the leader.

Why is this, though? Why do we need people to make decisions for us? What is it about some people that they can do so, while others cannot? We’ll pick that up next time, but here’s a hint, if you think you know, you’re probably wrong.

Edge of the World, copyright James Echols