Power, Authenticity, and Happiness

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Like most Millennial nonprofit employees, I have always been a dedicated, hard worker, even working in the trenches. I’ve put my head down and charged through the work. I’ve voiced my opinion in forums where I was allowed, mostly in department meetings, but unless I got my manager on my side, my point of view never really seemed to have much pull on an organizational level.

I always craved that seat at the decision-making table, the chance to speak my mind, and to make change in my organization. In short, I wanted power. I assumed that with power came great responsibility, which came with stress, discomfort, and difficulty.

Yesterday I came across this post entitled Powerful People Are Happy. The concept is that along with power comes the ability to be authentic. You are in control of things and you can be your true self. And that, in turn, makes you happy.

I get that. But I wonder if we might be able to translate that lesson to the rest of us who aren’t directors. We should consider the way that us lower level staffers can maintain control and power in our own programs. Even something as “small” as the donor database – something that you manage, that is yours, and that you have power over. I hope that will allow you to be authentic and allow you some happiness, too.

Working in a nonprofit is hard work. As much as we can pay attention to how to be happy at work, we should. Read through the article, but be creative about how you think about power, and think about how you can apply it to your role, no matter whether you’re working in strategy or in data entry.

-N.C.

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