As an English major, I love words. Recently, I heard a new one: “Bragsplaining.” It’s the unfortunate phenomenon when someone brags and complains at the same time about all the work they have to do.
Bragsplaining is flourishing among the millennials at my alma mater. They take competitive pride in sleeping the fewest hours, skipping the most meals, and having the busiest calendar. They have a fear of missing out, and so they overload on classes and organizational activities. They are burning out at a young age.
The ones who have some sense of wellbeing, those who actually get a good night’s sleep and eat their veggies, feel judged by the bragsplainers when they choose to take care of themselves.
As a professional coach, I want to help these students. I also want to help our nonprofit community, because bragsplaining cultures exist in our world too.
What is the culture like in your organization?
- Perhaps the director sets an example by working reasonable hours and demonstrating that her life outside of work is vital to her wellbeing. I once had a boss who pulled me aside and told me that my overtime did not impress her, and to go home already. Wow!
- Perhaps there is a genuine team spirit in your office, and you feel grateful every day for the opportunity to work with your colleagues. I experienced this joy too. Not coincidentally, we were allowed to flex our schedules and have every other Friday off.
- Or, perhaps there is an unfriendly competition among your colleagues over whose shared outlook calendar is the most slammed with appointments. The unspoken assumption is that you lack dedication if your schedule is not visibly overbooked.
- Perhaps your boss doesn’t allow your team to schedule medical appointments during regular work hours, even though you are salaried employees working well over forty hours a week.
- Perhaps a co-worker believes he works harder than anyone else in the office, and to his own detriment, he doesn’t slow down. Instead, he plows ahead, his resentment building at the rest of the team. . .
I have worked in multiple nonprofits in development departments on both the West and East Coasts, and I have seen all of the above. I am reaching out to you today because I want us to shine a light on our collective behavior that is no longer serving us.
In a bragsplaining world, how can we create a culture of wellbeing?
How can we celebrate those individuals who take care of themselves, despite the peer and organizational pressure to ignore their own needs?
We all know that the “revolving door” phenomenon of development directors is a vicious cycle. Development staff don’t have the conditions they need to succeed, as their organizations lack a culture of philanthropy. I believe organizations also lack a culture of wellbeing.
In this reality, what support and self-awareness do you need to succeed not only at work, but in life?
Burnout may be the greatest challenge of our careers. In fact, it has become an occupational hazard among development directors.
But it doesn’t have to be.
My goal is to bust the myth that we can achieve professional success only through the paths of overwork and burnout. We can succeed at work while also taking care of ourselves. In fact, we will be most successful at work when we do take the best care of our bodies, minds, and spirits. We will thrive when we finally integrate our work, our family, our community, and ourselves.
Through this blog, I am excited to share with you ideas for a multidimensional wellness – including emotional wellbeing, core values, physical health, creativity, spirituality, and healthy relationships – all things that you need to thrive as an effective employee in the nonprofit world. And kudos to Impact Foundry, a great resource for nonprofits in Northern California, for helping me spread the word.
Who am I to write to you about wellbeing? I’m not perfect. I ate popsicles (yes, that word was plural) for lunch. I haven’t sat on my meditation pillow in at least two months. And by two months I mean four. Possibly six.
Last year, I gave myself a repetitive stress injury from slouching like a shell-less turtle at the computer. I didn’t give myself breaks, or stretch, or stop working at dinnertime, and I screwed up my arm. For real. The surgery is now behind me but the excruciating physical therapy continues.
I know well what it is like to be overwhelmed with development responsibilities. I worked as a major gifts officer for many years in different organizations, and after my third successful capital campaign, I burned out. Fried myself crispy. Rather spectacularly too, I’d like to add.
I left my job, sold my house, broke up with my boyfriend, and soothed my broken spirit with creative pursuits. I love photography and writing, and I explored these with playfulness and passion.
After some healing, I remembered there were many, many things about development that I enjoy, and I began consulting. I also completed the rigorous coach-training program at UC Davis Extension. Today, I am helping people who have burned out to either renew their passion or find the career they love.
To learn more about how I can help you as a coach, click here.
So that’s me. What about you? Would you like to join me in an open, honest discussion about burnout in nonprofits?
Together we can reduce the embarrassingly high rate of turnover in the development field. And when we are successful with this, we will have greater longevity in our organizations, which will result in building relationships with more donors, increasing their giving, and helping our nonprofits to better meet their missions. Everyone and everything that we serve will benefit, a short list including kids, families, seniors, scenic lands, the arts, schools and universities, animals, and oceans.
We can do this! And the first step is to shine the light on bragsplaining.
How lucky are we in our profession, that by saving ourselves, we save the world.
P.S. You can achieve your personal and professional goals without burning out. Click here for more information.