ISSUE NUMBER 41   |   DECEMBER 29, 2014 

Things Fall Apart


I have someone in my life who has battled addiction. Whenever he seemed to be getting better and I allowed myself to be hopeful, he would slip. I learned, with the support of groups like Al-Anon, to let him go.


Things fall apart.


We might spend four years of college and more years in graduate school to find out our career choice is not what we had hoped. We move thousands of miles away to find ourselves, only to realize that we brought our baggage along for the ride. We thought we had a "brother from another mother" relationship with a business partner, and learn he can't deliver as promised. We followed the "collective impact" playbook word for word, but our collaborative is wrought with infighting due to personality conflicts of a few key leaders. As I write this, my five-year-old son is crying because his Star Wars Lego starship just broke in half.


If you allow yourself to relax into the reality that things fall apart, you won't be so shocked and stressed out when they do. There is actually great peace in this.  Today I have a wonderful relationship with the person I mentioned above, and I know that it might change. But I am enjoying every minute of it. My business is thriving and the economy is booming, but one terrorist attack in the United States could change that overnight. Last week I invested thousands of my own dollars and days of my time putting a proposal together for a potential client, only to be told, "thanks but never mind." Some people might go into the fetal position, but I prefer to go with the flow.


Recognizing that things fall apart - and going with this flow - allows us to be more successful in our philanthropy and in life.  We can anticipate some Plan Bs and Plan Cs, and we don't lose a tremendous amount of traction when things don't go as planned. Un-phased (or less phased) we rebound faster and move ahead.


This is my last newsletter of 2014. Writing these is tremendously energizing, and I look forward to sending you my first newsletter of 2015 next week. In the meantime, if you are looking for some interesting reading, check out two of my favorite books, Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe, and When Things Fall Apart: Heartfelt Advice for Difficult Times by Pema Chodron. 


Wishing you all a warm holiday and a peaceful New Year! In the words of Idina Menzel and my 5-year old daughter's 3 singing Elsa dolls, "Let it go." And enjoy.


2014 Kris Putnam-Walkerly. All rights reserved. Permission granted to excerpt or reprint with attribution. 

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Kris Putnam-Walkerly, MSW, is the president of Putnam Consulting Group, Inc. and author of the Philanthropy411 blog.

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