The size of the mountain you have to climb is secondary to the fact that there is a mountain in front of you at all.

I was asking around for blog ideas recently, and it turned into a venting session for many. Anecdotally, I know of many who are feeling overwhelmed these days, and know of three people that have quit or resigned in the last month. 

In life, and this work, the heaviest thing you will ever have to lift is your own spirits.

So you - yes you - person reading this blog, I want you to know that you matter and I want to say thanks.

You matter because you reach out to find more information on how to be better at ending homelessness. You are not resting on your laurels. You read the blog probably as part of that journey towards making yourself better (or because you think I am an idiot and it is validating to position your moral superiority against my lame ideas every week).

And I want to say thanks because people like you who read the blog make the blog worth writing. If this thing didn't have an audience there would really be no point in doing it.

No rah-rah speech here, but let me say a few things that may help you prepare to conquer that mountain and to lift your own spirits.

1. Our sector has some of the brightest, smartest people you will ever meet. These are individuals that could likely work in a range of other industries, excel at it, and make way more money. But they chose this industry. We should be grateful that we get to work with really, really smart people. I know it rubs off on guys like me. Maybe you too.

2. If compassion was quantifiable, we would need a lot of numbers to represent it in this sector. I am not talking about sympathy or charitable do-goodery. I am talking about people that work in this sector who are truly present from a place of empathy in this work not because they see themselves as greater than those we have the privilege of serving, but because they are seen as equals to those we serve. 

3. When you look at the big picture, we are doing way better than we used to be doing. Even with chronic numbers creeping up slightly, the big picture is a positive one. When faced with a crappy economy, tight rental markets, terrible access to mental health services and homeless-creation-factories like prisons and the foster care system doing their best to give us a steady supply of new people to support, you have been up to the challenge. 

4. You stare down a challenge and say, "bring it". Not enough money for resources? Landlord resources getting more scarce? Turnover in staff? Scant affordable housing resources? Folks like you get out of bed in the morning and are not defeated by it. You say, "bring it" because while you are not ready with an answer, you are ready for a challenge. We are a scrappy, rag-tag bunch that does this work well because we dig in to find answers rather than bellyache about problems.

5. You know what you are brilliant at. Why? Because you have endured discovering all of the things you are average or even lousy at. You have discovered much about yourself as you have done this work. Some of that learning about yourself was difficult, unforgiving and painful. But you learned and got better, and stuck around. There is no 'teachers copy' with all of the answers to how to end homelessness, so you invest what is necessary to learn a lit bit more and a lit bit more to get better and better. You compare notes with others and realize you aren't that bad at this work. So you stick around for another day.


Hey you - you are awesome. Don't forget it.

About Iain De Jong

Leader. Edutainer. Coach. Consultant. Professor. Researcher. Blogger. Do-gooder. Potty mouth. Positive disruptor. Relentless advocate for social justice. Comedian. Dad. Minimalist. Recovering musician. Canadian citizen. International jetsetter. Living life in jeans and a t-shirt. Trying really hard to end homelessness in developed countries around the world, expand harm reduction practices, make housing happen, and reform the justice system. Driven by change, fuelled by passion. Winner of a shit ton of prestigious awards, none of which matter unless change happens in how we think about vulnerability, marginality, and inclusion.

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