So our Foxglove team has been on leave for a few weeks. Taken holidays and gone fishing. It’s necessary in the world of helping others that we stop to make sure we’re personally and collectively travelling well. And we’ve learned some things.
So here’s our top 3 lessons learned in 2017:
1. MEASURE IMPACT NOT ACTIVITY
It’s so easy to measure organisational achievement by numbers that measure activity: training sessions conducted, girls in school or business start ups. The discussion becomes all about efficiency. Price per head, expenses as percentage of income etc. etc. But measuring impact means looking at outcomes AND progress. From every angle. Of course, there is a need for numbers but only when applying well considered measurements. What is this number telling us? And add to that stories, feedback from family and community, and a list of achievements or even learnings from failed initiatives. Together they form a picture of the impact we can collectively celebrate.
2. FROM LITTLE THINGS, BIG THINGS GROW
Sustainable progress takes time. Don’t over-emphasise endpoint outcomes and miss out on the milestones. Along the way there is so much beauty: a village running a community meeting about girl health and education, a family reforming after addressing long-term issues of domestic violence, a woman reading for the first time, a girl joining her mum in a family ‘business’ and even buying her first plot of land. It’s a tiny parcel, barely an Australian vegetable patch, but she’s overwhelmed at the possibilities. I don’t want to miss the small moments in chasing the big outcomes. From little things, big things grow.
3. LEARN FROM THE JOURNEY
People matter. Every person matters. The direct beneficiaries. Their communities and family members. The Foxglove team. And our donors and supporters. So, the objective is sustainable life change for everyone. When there are so many people in the Foxglove chain, we have to be prepared to slow things down. It’s not my personality but I’m learning like everyone else that I need to discover options that build for the long-term not the quick fix. And that also means working through the challenges in our personal worlds. When we recognise this for ourselves, we give others permission to ‘stop and smell the roses’. Funnily enough, this applies just as much to women in the Developing World. We are all at risk of valuing ourselves according to what we do rather than who we are.
I trust you’ve had a wonderful break. Now I’m ready to get back on the horse. Not galloping wildly. Not meandering without purpose. More of a graceful canter carrying Foxglove towards more opportunities to do good and inspire others. Who knows the lessons we will again learn along the way in 2018!