A Painful Tension

Leading a growing organization, I’m currently facing a challenge that I imagine has been faced by many. In fact, I’d argue that it prevents much progress in the larger movement for educational progress. The tension: Now vs. later.

We are very proud of the work we’ve done to this point. Like any new organization, that does not mean we have achieved perfection. The transition from program director to administrator and manager has been a challenging one for me. Simply put, I have not provided my program staff with the resources necessary to achieve the level of success to which we aspire. I know we could do better. While this is true, we are very proud of the work already being done to create an industry-leading nonprofit in the future. We’re building impressive structures and systems that will make us significantly better starting next year. Our future is extremely bright.

But, in the present, we have limited resources. We can’t invest our time and money in both repairing the present and preparing for the future. If we continue on our current path, we will be pretty good now and great in the future. If we invest in maximizing the limited potential of the present, we may delay greatness. While I write, the answers seem simple. The challenge: I know our kids now. I don’t know our future kids yet.

In education, we are emotionally attached to the present. Our stakeholders – parents and students – also are entirely invested in the present. This creates an underinvestment in the future. It’s so hard to knowingly withhold potential resources. But, at times, it’s necessary to be even better in the future.

So, for now, we’ll make some intentional improvements to our current operations, but we won’t pull out the stops at the expense of our future. The opportunity cost is too large. We’re not great yet, but we will be.

Thanks, as always, for reading.

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