Posted by: Don Linnen | 31 May 2010

Why Stretch?

I hate stretching. It’s boring. It hurts. I’m no good at it. It takes time. But after a long run or ride, I grudgingly admit that I need it. The older I get and the tighter my old muscles get, the more I need it.

Look around the next time you exercise. I’ll bet 80% of the people feel just like me. The 20% that do stretch have done it all their lives (good discipline) or are just naturally good at it (good genes).

A few weeks ago Seth Godin wrote a short blog about possibilities. Go read it. His words are much better than mine.

In a nutshell, he tells a story of a man doing something simple but remarkable – virtually unthought of before. When asked how he did it, the man responded: “all you need to know is that it’s possible.”

Too often, it seems that people really don’t try to solve the gnarliest problems. It’s boring (tedious). It hurts (costs too much). I’m no good at it (new learning may be required). All familiar refrains.

Add to those:  It can’t be done. It’s been that way forever.

Though many nonprofits are solving problems, they are most comfortable doing what they’ve been doing forever. It often looks like they are just clearing brush at the edge of the wilderness.

Whether we talk about poverty, devastating environmental damage, peace in the Middle East, or any of dozens of other really tough issues – please don’t tell me we can’t make a difference because something is too big, too old, too emotional, or just too darn complicated.  I’m tired of that argument.

Godin reminds us to look on the web and find out who is doing something to push the rock forward. When you do, you’ll find possibilities. When you know it’s possible, you’ll know what is possible for you and your organization – with some stretching.

Many nonprofits don’t have the genes to stretch. It really is not comfortable. But every nonprofit can develop the discipline to stretch. With that, you can not just push the rock forward;  you can move mountains.

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