February 27, 2020
In our last blog we encouraged people to consider whether their work was not just meeting their specific passion for social justice but also whether it was enabling them to fulfil the lifestyle they wanted.
Obviously closely tied to lifestyle is the having to answer the question –
It can sometimes be seen as a bit of a dirty word in a 4th Sector enterprise. Not just in terms of what the organisation needs, but also what everyone’s paid. Some people seem to think that if you want to do something of social value in the world you should somehow live off fresh air. Which is obviously impossible. You’ve got to eat, put a roof over your head, support your loved ones and maybe even have a little fun every now and then.
How much money do you need to support the life you want to live? It’s a good question, and one that makes a lot of people feel a bit, well, uncomfortable. But it shouldn’t, because this is a real need, and failure to address it head-on is only going to mean storing up trouble further down the line.
So, what’s your number – in hard cash? Everything from the essentials – food, transport, housing etc – to treats and everything in-between? Put a number on it.
Now – can your social enterprise generate that number along with everything else it has to cover? If it can’t, what are you going to do about it?
In the film Groundhog Day, weatherman Phil Connors (played by Bill Murray) finds himself destined to live the same day again and again. At first, realising that there are no consequences to his behaviour he thinks it’s fun – but his inability to break this repetitive loop soon turns dark. Similarly, it can feel like an endless Groundhog Day if you get stuck in an enterprise that you built and are proud of and is doing sterling work – but for one reason or another you feel you can never leave it.
In an earlier blog we introduced the 4Cs framework where we considered our fundamental need to grow and develop and our interviews with 4th Sector Entrepreneurs show how this consistently and strongly this manifests itself in their spirit and drive.
So, this brings us to a big question many of us tend to avoid – when and how are you going to leave your job? Not necessarily your organisation, just your current job.
Now, some would say it’s totally out of order to ask that when you’re pouring body and soul into making this thing you’re passionate about a roaring success. But they’re wrong, because that day will come, even if it’s years away. In fact, it’s actually very healthy, indeed essential, to start thinking about your exit strategy now. To plan how it will work and what follows on from that. Because you never know what might happen – or when.
This might feel odd right now, especially if you’re in the early stages of building something. But if you don’t look beyond your current reality you can get trapped – and in the process trap your organisation, too. Too often people are not proactive enough in thinking about succession planning, especially if they’ve been in a leadership role for a number of years.
So, what is your exit plan?
To finish this month’s series on Purpose try the following exercise:
First, write down where you want to be in five years time and the steps you need to take to get there from your current role.
And then ask yourself – ultimately, what kind of exit do you want to make? What does it look and feel like? What needs to be in place to ensure this happens? Who needs to be involved in the process and by when? Write all that down too.
What is your first step to doing something about it?
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