Thought for the Week: Tough decisions ahead? Bide your time and reconnect with your mission
Working hard at social change can't be sustained if you don't look out for yourself, too – so, in our new series, we're inviting experts to share guidance, reflections and exercises to help social impact leaders through difficult times. In the second of his three-part series, Tim Segaller from Rising Minds urges social entrepreneurs to watch out for getting stuck in an unsustainable, rapid reaction mode, and instead take some time to revisit and reconnect with the inspiration and vision that powers your venture.
Last week I looked at how to get more ground beneath your feet during these turbulent times. This is about cultivating resilience, so you can access the wisest parts of your mind and make good decisions.
One big decision facing you now might be around the long-term direction of your social enterprise. With a potential recession looming, perhaps you’re not clear about how the business can stay viable. Of course I don’t have particular answers for this. However, I can offer some generalised advice – building on my first piece – on how to approach this psychologically.
First, let’s look at timing. When humans feel threatened our automatic tendency is to rush to action. This is essential when there’s imminent mortal danger (being chased by a wild animal). But it’s not so useful when the situation is more complex. Sure, you may need to come up with some quick solutions for things like cashflow, maintaining customers, etc. But notice if you get stuck in ‘emergency’ reactive mode. Your brain and body can’t sustain this for long. Instead you’d do well to bide your time, as far as possible – so you can see your options clearly.
And one aspect of your business I encourage you to get in clear view – perhaps clearer than ever – is the true, beating heart of your social mission. At times like this there may be a strong, automatic tendency to deviate away from it, in order to keep the show on the road. Watch out for this, as you may later regret it.
Your inspiration and vision are essential ‘fuel’ for long-term business sustainability
Your inspiration and vision are essential ‘fuel’ for long-term business sustainability. The passion, determination and creativity of social entrepreneurs have been driving the growth of the sector for many years. And there’s good reason to believe that the social enterprise sector is well-placed to thrive in a post-Covid world, as communities strengthen and society looks to alternative economic models for long-term sustainability.
This being so, set aside time – in between more urgent activities – to revisit and refine your vision and mission statements. Root yourself in these deeply, as they can provide vital perspectives on your next steps. Examine all your options, consulting with employees, customers, and stakeholders. Your ‘solutions’ may vary from minor ‘pivots’ on your business offer, to a total reinvention. Whatever the answers for you, buy yourself time to think it through properly.
Next week, I’ll explore how social enterprises can and must connect and join forces with each other at this critical time.
Rising Minds CIC is currently running free weekly webinars on resilience for leaders and teams.
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