The charity sector plague

Martyrdom is described by the Cambridge Dictionary as, ‘an occasion when someone suffers or is killed because of their religious or political beliefs.’

Suffering because of political beliefs is rife in the charity sector. I’ve worked alongside a number of people who will put in 100 hour weeks with extensive travel to and from work ‘for the sake of the cause’.

Martyrdom looks like individuals never taking a lunch break. It’s individuals going beyond professional boundaries to support beneficiaries. It’s individuals not disclosing the full nature of their day to day tasks with management because they know management will impose stricter boundaries on them.

Martyrdom leads to burn out.

And we end up with an environment where the people who are showing up to work for their paid hours, working a solid and effective day, and leaving on time to re-energise, re-vitalise, relax, connect with activities outside of work, begin to question their approach.

When someone is working near us and repeatedly shares how many hours they’ve worked, how much they’ve gone above and beyond what is required of them, how their relationships at home are suffering because they are working so much, it seeps into our skin.

We all have a ‘not enough’ gremlin, and the presence of martyrdom inevitably feeds our own narrative around whether we are putting in enough hours, or energy, are we spilling enough of our own blood for this cause? Are we caring enough?

And so organisations turn into a mix of martyrs, and people questioning their ethical working practices….

Unless we advocate self care.

If we champion the concept that the best thing we can do for the cause is look after ourselves so we are resilient and energised and ready to create change, a shift begins to happen.

Self care, working efficiently, productively and with love, connecting to ideas and projects and interests outside of work, engaging in creativity, play and gratitude… they’re the things that are going to serve you, and they’re the things that are most certainly going to serve the cause.

So I invite you to check in – do you engage in martyrdom? Do you see others around you wearing the martyrdom badge? Why not get a group of colleagues together and discuss the concept.

Sending love as always, Hannah

*Image by Bethany Legg

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