Martin Farrell

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We are in crisis, which can lead to change – so let's not waste it

22 July 2014

Now is the time to reflect on individual and organisational habits and make a decision to change those that serve neither us nor our beneficiaries

Martin Farrell

With this series of articles I hope to bring you face to face with your demons. It will be scary, unsettling and difficult. You will wish you hadn't started and had just carried on as normal.

Normal is known. More of the same is OK, but it's just... well, more of the same. This is not what we signed up for when we joined the sector. We signed up for change. We signed up for making life better for those whom we serve. We signed up for struggle.

I recall an interview with a young man after a disturbance on a housing estate. Looking straight to camera, he said: "We need struggle of the most violent kind – a struggle inside us." A surprising twist, and a deep truth.

The struggle I invite us all to embrace is a struggle with our habits. We know them so well, don't we? We live with them every day. Our words and actions manifest our habits. Sometimes they work for good, sometimes for ill. But always they influence the world around us. Because of the world we inhabit, they influence how effectively we can bring positive change to the sector.

Let's give our habits serious attention, knowing that our change becomes change for others. What will push us to face up to difficult conversations with ourselves? How can we be courageous enough to face our habits?

A good crisis. Crisis can herald change.

Our sector is in crisis. Let's not waste it. Let's embrace the struggle and grasp the opportunity to reflect actively on our individual and organisational habits – and make a decision to change those that serve neither us nor the people we serve.

You have some homework over the next month: in what dark corners of your professional life are your habits lurking? The balance of work and life? Your meetings? Your personal productivity? A relationship with someone difficult?

Let's notice where our habits are, then face them and invite them into the light. Break bad habits. Good for you. Good for your organisation. Good for those whom we serve.

Third Sector

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(Photo courtesy Third Sector)