Fail, Survive, or Thrive

November 11, 2022 @ 12:00am

Mission drift is a thing. A very real thing for non-profit organizations. Why? Because we want to save the world. It is in our blood to do the most good for the most people. So, when opportunity presents itself, we often jump asking and figuring out how we can fill the gap. However, an important lesson for all of us is the one that teaches us to stay in our lane.


Again, we all want to save the world. But our desire does not always mean we are the correct person or organization to do it. A critical conversation must be held to determine if the something aligns with our mission, or if it better aligns with someone or somewhere else. It may sound silly to turn down opportunity, but there may be a better fit-with more skills, expertise, and knowledge-who would do a way better job at completing the task.

Now I love filling gaps. See a need, identify a gap, calculate the gap, fill the gap-or-pass it on. The calculation is so often missed. And do not get me wrong-there have been several times that I almost jumped at opportunity, but that little voice in the back of my head was asking if I should. That is where calculated decision making comes in.

We do not always have time to make a long and drawn-out decision. Everything moves so quickly. However, if you have a grasp on your mission, your values, and the position of your business, those calculations do not have to take forever. I feel blessed to be at an organization where I can move fast, without the need for levels of bureaucracy. This has afforded my team to make those quick and calculated decision, which has led Healthfirst to thrive while staying in our lane.

By staying in our lane, and you staying in yours, we can make scarce and critical resources stretch farther. One of the most frustrating things I see in communities is the duplication of services. Not everyone should be doing everything. And for those with like missions and goals, how do you pool your resources to expand and grow the capacity beyond the duplication. It takes coordination, there is a give-and-take, and ego lessness. It is okay to acknowledge that someone can do something better, and more important than acknowledgment-we should support them to do it better.

I often liken this back to the creation of my leadership team. I did not want to hire people that knew less than me, I wanted to hire employees that filled in my gaps and weaknesses. The reality is we cannot be good at everything. Although I wish I was. But I do not have the patience for monotonous reports every month, so I hired Jerry who has impeccable attention to detail. I do not have the capacity to provide direct clinical oversight and write airtight clinical policies, so I hired LeeAnn. And nutrition is something I do not have a great handle on-but Suzanne surely does. I want them to outshine me, they are who makes the world go round at Healthfirst. I stay in my lane, so they can lead in theirs.

About the author: Jessica Scharfenberg
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