“Stand Back and Regard Your Work” — Then Celebrate It!

Posted: December 21, 2017

With December flying along, January 2018 is now within sight. Already there’s talk of resolutions.  And certainly, setting improvement goals for the new year is important and reaching them, even more so. 


But before we leave 2017, don’t miss the opportunity to reflect and celebrate. From my dual perspective as consultant and board member, I’ve long believed that nonprofits don’t do enough to seek, find and honor their contributions and achievements, big, small and in between. Ending the year on a high note isn’t only about having a great fundraising campaign, though of course that matters. I was recently part of an email exchange that gave me a new mantra for assessment and reflection that encourages both evaluation and satisfaction. Read on.

Inspiring Advice

My inspiration for this blog comes from the monthly discussion among nonprofit professionals that I’ve helped to organize and host this year. The December theme was celebrating our organizations. Soon after the event, I received an email from a participant, Mike Haller, with a story that he’d wanted to share. I found his concept so meaningful, I asked his okay to include portions of the email here, which he graciously granted:

“When my kids were growing up I always used to tell them to ‘Stand back and regard your work.’ It is partly a way to appreciate what you have done. But it’s also a little bit of critical observation, which any maker of anything has to do if they care about the outcome. A few years ago my younger son — now in his 30s — told me that phrase was one of the most important things he remembered about growing up….”

To me, the beauty of Mike’s advice is how simple and universal it is. It applies in any circumstance, and surely within the daily world of nonprofits working to fulfill commitments and contribute to the greater good. It speaks of reflection individually and collectively, to making time and taking time to consider what you’ve done and accomplished. You know best whether this is already a familiar practice for you and your nonprofit, or whether it’s one that’s needed. 

Regarding My Work

In the spirit of “stand back and regard your work,” I’ve been considering my year and where I can feel “appreciation,” to use Mike’s word, for what I’ve done. Yes, as I observe I can see room for improvement, which gives me a jumpstart on 2018 goal-setting. But I also feel satisfaction in what I’ve accomplished, and in turn, heightened motivation to keep on working to enable nonprofit to thrive.

Here’s one personal example. When I stand back and regard my work in pushing for greater diversity on nonprofit boards in the Hudson Valley and beyond, I see outcomes that are deeply encouraging. For instance, my December resource roundup, Suggested by SJR, offered ideas and information for taking action to develop a more diverse board. The response, including forwarding and tweeting of the resources, tells me that I’m helping to make progress in this area. And I’m excited for what I can continue to do in 2018.

Standing Back Daily

To wrap up a year of Continuing The Conversation, I heartily recommend standing back and regarding your work. Take in the big picture of 2017 and then, whatever your honest appraisal, find something to celebrate. And continue to stand back and regard your work in the year ahead anytime or every day. In fact, doing so will be my first resolution for 2018.

Many thanks to Mike Haller for sharing his wisdom and to all who make my work in the nonprofit field so rewarding. Wishing a bright, promising and prosperous new year to each and everyone!