Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Board Engagement

We tried an experiment with a nonprofit board that I chair.  We conducted board orientation after we had included the new board members in two events:
  • board reception for new, retiring and returning board members and senior staff 
  • board meeting and state of the organization presentation
All three activities were held within a two week period.  Feedback was positive.  The new board members had a chance to visit socially in a lovely home with key staff, seasoned board members and one another before engaging in governance.  When they participated in board orientation, they already had a broader sense of the opportunities and challenges facing the organization and knew many of the other board and staff who were also committed to serving children and families in Texas.

There are many ways to foster engagement including shared vision, passion and camaraderie.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

What Does it Take?

One of the best, most painful lessons I learned happened in fourth grade.  My very capable and experienced teacher told me that if I did X I'd get an A. I did X and she gave me a B. I felt like a failure (my first B) and knew that I'd been betrayed.  After many tears and Mama's conversation with my teacher, we discovered that she thought (knew) I could do more.  She was correct.  I could have done more.  However, I did what I thought it took to succeed (make an A). 

Since 4th grade, I've always known that doing our best is all that ultimately matters.

Though my situation worked out fine (I graduated second in my class), it could have played out differently. 

We need to be clear in our expectations and the resulting rewards.  And we owe it to all involved to discuss what actions/changes might improve results. 

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Embracing, Accepting or Rejecting Change

I've long rejoiced in the fact that I embrace change.  This attitude has served me well through my life and career.  I now realize the difference between embracing and accepting change.  It's far easier to embrace change when you truly believe that things will be better as a result of the change.  Yes, things will be different.  But, when we know that the pain (of change) is worth the gain (of change), we can easily or readily or even hesitantly embrace the change.  This prospect of making things better motivates or sustains us.  

Willingness to change is also beneficial when the change is negative.  Though the dynamics can quickly change from aggressive adoption of positive change to the passive acquiescence of negative change, both patterns can work. With negative change, it's a longer, harder trajectory, but success can be achieved.

Another scenario is the rejection of change.  Oddly enough, the decision to reject change ultimately causes a very profound change.  In business, the refusal to change to accommodate a new environment results in a voluntary or involuntary change in employment.

Whether we embrace, accept or reject change, we must be ready to deal with our decision.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Make My Day

A long-time, younger friend who just joined a non-profit board for which I'm beginning my 3rd year of service, made my day this week.  During introductions, she highlighted another board member and me as women she'd always admired.  Her very thoughtful acknowledgement provided a highlight in an otherwise frustrating business day.

We each have many opportunities to make someone's day.  Let's seize more of these opportunities.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Too Much Information

We've all been exposed to more information than we desire from over-eager friends and colleagues.  Recently I was presented an offer that was literally too good to be true - 90% discount on an incredible array of personal development books and tools from many noted experts.  My initial reaction was to seize this opportunity.  However, as I reviewed the offer, I opted not to purchase.  There was too much great information.  I knew that not being able to devote time to use each of these now available options would increase rather than reduce my stress level.

In offers and in life, balance is supreme.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Beauty of Imperfection

I'm a largely recovered perfectionist who knows that doing something well is far better than failing to do anything because I'm waiting until it's just right.  But reminders help. The beautiful rose that Edgar placed in a vase in my home office before I got home yesterday reminded of the beauty of imperfection.  This lovely flower had one nonconforming petal.  I intentionally waited to pluck the errant petal, to focus on the flower's overall beauty.  Oddly this minor and easily remedied imperfection provided not only the gift of beauty but also a wonderful visual lesson.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Quit Quitting

A recent conversation with a friend altered my way of thinking about change.  In business, we've been conditioned to expect and adapt to continuous change.  However, we need to assess whether we're involved in productive or non-productive change.  When change is non-productive, it can be the result of quitting an activity and beginning another without assessing what might have been improved in the first project.  I've resolved to quit quitting, without consciously assessing whether it's better to improve an existing option or embrace a new one.  But, I intend to stay very receptive to productive change.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Do Something

Yesterday I finished too many early morning projects to allow time to complete my 30 minute walk and still arrive at my 8:00 a.m. meeting on time.  Bummer!  It would have been easy to skip a day since I couldn't finish my route.  My decision to walk as long as I could energized me before I'd completed the first 1/2 block.  Since I decided to eliminate my all or nothing tendency and do something rather than missing a day of exercise, I completed 75% of my expected time and distance.

Doing something productive even when we don't have time to achieve a self-imposed task often puts us far closer to reaching our ultimate objective.

Friday, January 6, 2012

If It Doesn't Kill You

How many times have others tried to provide encouragement by reminding us that things that don't kill us make us stronger?  It became apparent to me that I should embrace learning from obstacles when I recently encountered this message twice within hours from unexpected messengers.  A recent college graduate in a retail store had this multi-line message tattoed in sizable letters on her forearm.  The next reminder was a forwarded cartoon of a rat in a trap determinedly using the bar of the trap as a weightlifting bar with this sentiment below the picture.