Being problem focused can get you killed

There once was a cook who died of starvation because he was so obsessed with feeding the hungry that he forgot to eat.

If you think this is a joke, then try this one.

Over the last few years I’ve come accross many organisations and professionals working in the not-for-profit sector who starve themselves or who have actually ‘died’ of starvation.


Because they refused to feed themselves or their organisations properly.

In these types of organisations the amount of time and attention paid to (re)collecting and sharing success-stories is virtually non-existant. And by sharing success-stories I don’t mean printing fancy statistics and budget reports or charts in a report. By sharing I mean people sitting down and talking about their stories.

In these organisations, once a person is helped, they get out of the picture, and every one focuses on the next needy in line and how to help that person even better than the person before.

I’ve met people who actually believe that they are not allowed to pay more attention to their success-stories since it would mean they were paying less attention to the needy, read: they would not be doing their job.

That’s exhausting, if you ask me.

Now who will cook the best meal for his clients you guess? The cook who’s starved or the one who’s also taking care of himself?

Almost every one you ask to share success-stories gets more energy out of a) thinking about these stories and b) sharing them with others.

You don’t have to believe me. You can try it for yourself if you like.

Pick a moment, say at the beginning or at the end of the week to sit down with some of your colleagues and friends. Ask them: “What have you done over the last few days that you are proud of? And how have you made that happen? How have others helped you to make that happen?” And consistently do so for as many weeks as you like. Or keep a diary, to document your (small) successes and how you and others have made them happen. And thumb through your notes once and a while.

Let me know what happens…

So please, feed yourself properly. Taking time to enjoy and share your success-stories is healthy.

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