i think people pleasers and approval junkies are the most prone to making trade offs they don't have to. personal gain, accolades and headlines are like smoke, they evaporate very quickly. awards turn to rust. headlines get relegated to google searches, personal gain soon is forgotten and overshadowed by the next headline. you have to come to the point where doing good and accomplishments for the homeless mean more than looking good or putting your organization into tomorrows headline. greatness and a real sense of accomplishment doesn't come from making headlines or public accolades. greatness comes from focusing on the task of trying to house the homeless and making a difference in the lives of men, women and children.
too many of us like to dabble around the edges of fighting homelessness and helping those who are less fortunate than we are. the problem with dabbling is that we never become good at reducing homelessness. we experiment with various programs and we are quick to join the crowd whenever the next big answer to homelessness comes along, often without really thinking it thru or considering whether it really could be the answer we've been looking for. it's true, if you're a young advocate or homeless agency employee you should indeed consider and explore new ideas and concepts. you should attempt to find out what your strengths and weaknesses are, what the capabilities and limitations of your organization are and use that knowledge. but as your time with the organization grows longer and you mature in your job, you must become more focused and aware of what's been tried in the past, what worked and what didn't work and the reasons for the success or failure. you should try to narrow your scope into what has been successful and what you feel could be successful and become tenacious with those concepts. you shouldn't be distracted by this years newest answer to homelessness or the latest sets of data that will bring about the end to homelessness....again. you will go far and have a much greater success if you are more single-minded and focused on those ideas that have a proven track record and just let the rest go.
often this is the point where many of us become weary. as you work longer and accomplish more, it's often difficult to let go of the headlines, let go of the ideas that seem to appear daily and let someone else travel the very latest path to ending homelessness. that's why so many organizations and individuals never really reach the maximum potential we have to reducing homelssness significantly. we are so burdened with various ideas and programs that we fail to focus on the ones that we know will work and have had an impact in the fight on homelessness. we often give up what we have in order to gain what we don't and in the process lose ground. you must be willing to make concessions and often those concessions are passing on the latest fad and continuing to grind out our daily chore of helping the homeless in the best way we know how.
money is important in the fight against homelessness. but people don't pay for average. i think one of the problems in the fight against homelessness is that we haven't made any significant inroads in reducing the number of homeless in the united states. the number fluctuates up and down, but the total number remains approximately the same. with the advent of social media people become much more aware. one of the things they are aware of is the seemingly ineffectiveness of homeless agencies, particularly on the federal level. if it's going to be worth spending money on, then we have to spend it wisely and in the most effective means possible. we can't shout that we've housed a particular number of people and not expect the public to figure out that we spent an inordinate amount of money doing it. with the amount of information available daily thru various sources we can't expect the public to not begin to wonder why the number of homeless in america hasn't been reduced despite spending hundreds of billions of dollars to do just that. they're not impressed by numbers that are merely acceptable. they don't want average.
most agencies and organizatons try to spend years doing the things the same way as they always have. if they've been successful there's absolutely nothing wrong with that. all they need to do now is move from successful to significant. i think instead of focusing on new plans or new programs or historically failed programs, we should examine some of the more successful agencies and missions and organizations and take a close look at how they operate. what do they do differently that makes them a success? what do they do and how do they do it? one of the great traps of working in a social service agency or homeless organization is not spending enough time considering true success and what the measurement of success is. in this case...the true measure is how many homeless did you place in a home and how many are left? don't be afraid to ask that question. success is not and should not be measured in how much your budget grew this year or how well known your organization is or how many headline grabbers you acquired this year. success is not a video or an article describing homelessness in a magazine. success is reaching the men and women on the street and providing housing for them while at the same time attempting to help them thru the issues that caused their homelessness. success is finding the mentally ill and giving them a safe place to live. success is being able to say we've reduced homelessness significantly, not explaining why it's increased again this year.
sure, by spending more time looking at past successes and organizations that have succeeded in housing the homeless in a cost efficient mannet you may lose out on the next headline, the next national convention or the next big answer, but it's a trade off you can't afford not to make. don't trade the lives of the homeless.
see you around town