Cathi Can Do Real Estate!

shutterstock_945275After a 90+ day transition from my long time career as nonprofit executive and human services provider, my journey to become a full time Realtor®  has entered it’s final phase.  It has been both a leap of faith and a very special learning journey. The BIG launch is on July 24th, right after our long-planned vacation!

I am spending these in-between days pulling together hundreds of pages of notes and handouts and dozens of websites filled with bits of info and kernels of knowledge, from the classes and webinars I have taken as time allowed these past few months, to make sure I don’t lose any of it.  “I’ll get back to this,” I have been saying as I had to shift my attention to focus the transition from “the day job.” There are books I want to really read, and a lot of i’s to dot and t’s to cross as I update and finalize my social media presence, multiple websites, develop (first time) buyers’ and (Boomers.2.0) sellers’ workshops and much more.

So often, I have been one of those who has “built the plane while flying it,” if you know what I mean. That comes at a cost – to me and to the people I serve and the products I deliver, or don’t quite get around to finishing and deliver in parts.

This time, I am committed to take the time to be pay attention to the details and make sure they all come together to form the big picture in my goals. It’s what I can do! It’s a rare gift that I plan to make the most of – for me and for you.

While I have some “WHAT? A whole new life?!” apprehension and “I don’t have any income right now” anxiety, I’d be more concerned if I didn’t. I am taking time to be sure I have the best tools and an awesome team pulled together to provide my future clients with the my signature CAN DO service.

I am at the door to my new life…

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WOW!

See you on the 24th for the grand opening!

 

 

 

My Can Do Life Reinvention – Seriously!

Six weeks ago, if you told me about last Friday, I would never have believed you.  Six weeks ago, I had a great job that I intended to retire from in five years and my life pattern was pretty well set. The staff and I had worked hard for 9  months using an intentional Can Do approach and had created a strong team model; and, we were really having fun doing it! I had just finished a report for the Board that highlighted how the team and I were meeting and exceeding our goals for the year, and what my five year goals were for the organization. Our program was at capacity.  There was a leak in the roof, but that’s part of having an 86 year old building. Sure, there were challenges and differences in approach in some areas of my nonprofit leadership position, but challenges are inherent in any job – and, in my view, part of the cost of doing business in a model that is focused on change & growth.

Five weeks ago, my head was spinning. The President of the Board of Directors told me that the Board was seriously considering not renewing my contract at the end of June. Seriously?

Seriously?

The following Tuesday, I realized that the differences between us were much more fundamental than I had previously believed.  Two days later, we met and I learned that they would not renew the contract. I, sadly agreed with the decision. Seriously.

So, I began to actively explore what I would do next.  Since it was not my first time at this crossroad, I went to work immediately, reinventing myself as my hubby has since dubbed it.

Four weeks ago yesterday, I registered for the online 60 hour course that is required before taking the Virginia Real Estate Licensing Exam.  Friday, I passed that exam.  The testing company does not reveal the scores – I just know and am very grateful and relieved that I passed.  Real Estate as a career is something I have toyed with for several years, and it is in my blood: both my parents were Realtors, as are my brother and one of my cousins.  I am excited about the opportunities that lie ahead – the people I will meet and the special opportunity I will have to support them through the major life transition of buying or selling their home.

My friends have been telling me how impressed they are with what I accomplished: reinventing myself and passing the exam and (most of the time) keeping my Can Do attitude in play.  I was blessed to be participating in a Lenten Retreat as these changes unfolded, and used that time and those spiritual resources to help me discern next steps. I was surrounded by a caring community of family and friends, and I am grateful beyond words for their strong support during this very difficult time.

As I recover from the stresses of preparing for and taking (and passing!!) the exam, I gotta tell you, I am VERY proud of myself and VERY impressed with my achievements in these four short weeks. Not only have I taken the course and passed the exam, but I have acquired and integrated the knowledge to begin an entirely new field of work.

Seriously.

And… and…. I am affiliating with an OUTSTANDING brokerage to launch my new career: Keller Williams in McLean. I chose KW because of the strong alignment with my Can Do Workplace model.  Their mission is: CAREERS WORTH HAVING. BUSINESSES WORTH OWNING.  LIVES WORTH LIVING.  Their belief system reads like a chapter of the Can Do Workplace!

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The people in the McLean office – from the Team Leader and Assistant Team Leader, to agents and brokers and the front desk staff – have been over the top supportive of me, welcoming and excited about not just what they can do for me, but also what strengths and potential I bring to their team.

Right now, my status is Coming Soon. In the two to three week lag while the application for my license is being processed in Richmond, I will work with them to get myself ready for a very different “next five years” than I had imagined just six weeks ago.

Seriously.

Imagine What You Can Do!

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Can Do Basics Post 4: From Misteaks to Lessons Learned

The chapter that I impacted me most while writing The Can Do Workplace was Chapter 5: “Lessons Learned from Can’t Do”.  The idea for the chapter came as I struggled with what I call the consultants’ dilemma: How Can I Give Them This Advice When I Have Made So Many Mistakes Myself?  I decided to share several of my biggest lessons learned, reflecting on how I grown and changed as a result.

Using the 4 practices of a Can Do Workplace as the framework, I examined key decisions and leadership approaches made in organizations where I have had significant responsibility. I Epic fail 2asked myself the question: “if I knew then what I know now, what would I do differently?” My focus was not on the little mistakes, but on the bigger system boo-boos that can (and sometimes have) led to EPIC FAIL situations – two of the organizations I discussed in my lessons learned chapter have closed their doors, and at least one of them was 100% preventable.

Transitioning from “misteaks” to “lessons learned” requires unpacking and reviewing our errors, mistakes and blunders in a way that increases the odds we won’t repeat them. It requires us to put aside both the blame game and the guilt traps. The process helps moves us away from blame, guilt and shame to look for the root causes – the common elements that keep us doing similar shutterstock_16585363things over and over (and over!) again. Shifting to a “lessons learned” mindset opens up possibilities that allows us – finally – to get out of those the vicious cycles that keep us repeating mistakes in spite of our best attempts to stop! And to do so before we make a mistake that is costs us more than we care to pay = learning the hard way, as they say.

One of the strategies I recommend for making the big leap from mistake to lesson learned is to write – and then SHARE – one or more “memos to self” that define as concretely and specifically what you would do differently in a given “critical moment” situation.

This excerpt from Chapter 5 is my Memo to Self on one of my my “lessons learned” as a CEO about not engaging staff early enough and meaningfully enough in a major organizational transition:

In preparing for and throughout a change process, it is critical to communicate about the changes – over and over and over again. Use clear and simple language. Don’t just dole out information. For major transitions, planned information sessions and updates are recommended, with good follow through for questions raised. Maintain, and then keep, a calendar of scheduled communications, even if there is not much happening because silence when staff expects information creates anxiety…lots of unnecessary anxiety.

Engage employees by asking questions and establishing committees to facilitate the cross agency flow of communication. Get their input and buy-in. When specific changes are not optional, it helps to engage staff by asking not IF, but HOW, something new can be done. Establish boundaries on how information will be provided and clarify up front what is expected from everyone in the organization in terms of confidentiality and civility. It is helpful to keep the organization’s values visible and part of the conversation because they provide needed structure and security to help staff participate in healthy growth.

shutterstock_2224385I strongly encourage sharing these “memos to self” because it helps to crystallize your “experience” into actionable items, increase your accountability and reinforce your commitment to use your lessons learned! If you work with a professional coach, it is a good idea to share these “memos to self” with your coach who can help hold you accountable. Or, you can include the actions you define in your performance goals for the next six months. What good is our “experience” if we don’t use it to improve?

Once you have written and shared these “personal personnel” policies and procedures, the next step is to find the highly personalized strategies to consistently access and use them to guide your future decision-making to prevent you from falling into the rhythm of the routine and the habits that lead back to the same old mistakes, in spite of your best intentions. Remember, the developing the memo, sharing the memo and creating a strategy are just the preparation for change. Your actions the next time you are in a similar situation is what will make the difference.

So, whatever your strategy, make sure it is one that works for you.

The impact of writing that chapter all those months ago remains with me. I have developed a new workshop entitled, I Won’t Do That Again! Using Case Studies to Unpack, Explore and Effectively Use Lessons Learned that I will be presenting this spring at several regional and national conferences. Based on that workshop, I will also be launching a self-guided “Using Lessons Learned” section on the Can Do Workplace website in April.  Stay tuned.

I hope you share these four Can Do Basics Blogs with your colleagues and staff. And, I hope that you purchase a copy of The Can Do Workplace, which is filled with strategies and resources to make your organization become a Can Do Workplace – Where People Like to Work.

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Can Do Basics Blog 3: The Power of AND in the Ampersand

The The Can Do Model is built around the power of the AND in the ampersand.

AND is such a powerful word that connects things, concepts and ideas together. It is a very short word, but it can be so dynamic.

I love the ampersand because it has such hidden strengths in its graceful form. More than strengths, I actually think there are super powers hidden in that symbol that help individuals and organizations combine elements, which on some levels appear to be contradictory, messy, or disconnected, in order to achieve a positive outcome that is way above & beyond the norm.

Take for instance, the combination of Difficult & Great. I am not sure where the idea started that what is good has to be easy! With that mindset, people can become so discouraged when presented with a challenge, when it is really an invitation to grow! The Difficult & Great combination nudge – and then push – us to think harder… To try again… To see another perspective…To listen more attentively to our colleagues… and to find something new, different, stronger and better… To achieve our mission with more impact! That’s why we, the nonprofit peeps are here, isn’t it?

During my interview for the book with Sandy Nobles, Director of Education at Momentous Institute, she put it this way: “We know ‘great’ & ‘difficult’ work together to achieve more impact. We want to ring life out of every day that we have chance to help kids.”

Change & Growth – The juncture of change & growth is where the possibilities, power, and promise of greatness and excellence reside and come to life. When change is not directly connected to growth, it creates fear and anxiety for many, and keeps organizations, teams, and individuals stuck in patterns that ensure that poor outcomes are perpetuated. On the other side of the coin, change for the sake of change is foolish.

Growth in “Can Do” terms does not mean more or bigger, it means better, healthier, and stronger.

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When change is embraced and understood, people feel invited and empowered to join in and participate in shaping the growth. And they have a better understanding of how they benefit from the change & growth.

They start to view, measure, and respond to internal and external fluctuations as opportunities for growth, and use lessons learned to make adjustments and course-corrections to prevent unnecessary problems.

In short, these are people who want to be at work & make a Can Do kind of difference!

AND, who can argue with that?

CDW Cover.final - CopyClick here to check out The Can Do Workplace: A Strengths-Based Model for Nonprofits to learn so much more about creating that kind of workplace. The book is filled with practical solutions & hundreds of resources. Get yours today!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Can Do Basics Blog 2: Practice Makes Excellence Easier!

In the Can Do Basics Blog 1, I talked about the foundation of the Can Do Workplace Model – Mission & Gratitude.  Blog 2 is all about practice.

Remember the old question: How do you get to Carnegie Hall?  Answer: Practice!

Here’s the new question: How do you build, nurture and sustain a Can Do Workplace? With four key practices:

  1. Full Alignment
  2. Making Quality Decisions
  3. Using Change to Achieve Growth
  4. Crafting & Simmering the BEST Secret Sauce

practice-mdPractices implies a forward movement based on repetition. And that is why I called them practices and not elements or components. Yo-Yo Ma practices every day. So do Taylor Swift and Paul McCartney. As do Katie Ladecky and Michael Phelps. They have grown to superstar status and achieved excellence in their fields because they have committed to practicing. Why should it be different for a workplace? Especially in a nonprofit, with its mission to make the world a better place?

The first practice is Full Alignment, which means that all areas of the organization are well-connected and communicating.

Well-connected is to ensure that everyone is headed in the same direction. This happens best when the people who are accountable for outcomes are aware of their expectations and are able, equipped and supported to deliver on them. And then, they do deliver on them.

Communicating is to ensure that the messages – inside, outside and across the organization – are consistent, strategic, timely and true. It also means that everyone in all departments and at all levels of an organization can give similar answers to the questions: “what we are doing? …and why?”

Strong alignment fosters mission and promotes gratitude. Lack of alignment is often discovered when things start going wrong!  HINT: That is not the best time to make corrections!!  So, it’s good to know: how well is your organization aligned?  How many silos are there? What are the biggest barriers to communication? How is accountability understood? How different are the “missions” as stated in each of your organization’s departments or areas?

pyramidThe second practice is Making Quality Decisions. Not just at the Board meeting or by the department heads, but all the way through the organization. The best quality decisions are the ones made according to the pyramid model: only the most critical policy decisions are made at the top, and the rest are made as close to the customer or client or product as possible. The trick to having that succeed as a model is to share information and provide support and training for people to make great decisions at every level of the organization – every day.

Making quality decisions also requires being able to ask the right questions and listen carefully to the answers. At the time I wrote my first book, The Can Do Chronicles, I defined what I call the Three Can Do Questions, which I find very valuable in all areas of my decision making:

CDQ 1) What can I do?  Keeps the focus on possibilities first, and barriers second.

CDQ 2) WHAT ELSE can I do? Keeps new options and fresh ideas perking all the time!

CDQ 3) Just because I can do it, should I?  Again, keeps options open until I know for sure: Is it the right thing to do? Is it the right time? What else do I need to learn or who else needs to be involved before I make and act on this decision?

The third practice is Using Change to Achieve Growth.  This cartoon says it all:

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The message is clear – we all want it as long as we don’t have to do it!

Can Do Workplaces have what Carol Dweck calls Growth Mindsets. We can’t grow if we don’t want to change – ask the butterfly or the frog. The key is to link change with growth. More people understand and accept the value and benefits of growth than they do of change. As leaders of Can Do Workplaces, it is on us to understand, predict and promote change & growth – all of the time – one step at a time.

The fourth practice is Crafting & Simmering the BEST Secret Sauce.  Aaahhhhh… the secret sauce – with its uniquely combined ingredients, its spices and aroma – is the signature quality of an organization. The best secret sauce is what keeps people – employees, clients, volunteers, funders and donors – coming back, wanting more and willing to work hard to get there. Many nonprofit leaders take great pains to develop a stellar strategic plan, but don’t include the recipe for the secret sauce – that is, what will make the organization unique and the people in it want to excel. Not just when the times are good!

Want to know a SECRET? It’s the secret sauce that keeps employees, funders and others pitching in and giving support when times are tough.

CDW Cover.final - CopyThe Can Do Workplace has much more information about and applications of these Four Practices, along with practical suggestions to infuse the practices into all areas of an organization. Plus, there is an entire resource section with information, including Carol Dweck’s Mindset: the Psychology of Success along with many other helpful publications and links to help create and support a Can Do Workplace.  Check it out!

Come back next time for the Can Do Basics Blog 3: The Power Of AND In The Ampersand.

Until then…
Imagine What You Can Do!

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Can Do Basics Blog 1: Mission and Gratitude

Ever been in an organization that “gets it” and think, “WOW, I wish I worked here!”?  And then we have all been in organizations where we think, “O.M.G.! GET ME OUT OF HERE!” Sometimes, it’s hard to pin down what makes the difference between a Can Do Workplace and those that are Can’t Do, Won’t Do, surviving, toxic, and the many permutations and iterations of just getting by. The distinctions between the Can Do and the others can be instinctive, based on feeling rather than data. One thing for certain, you know when Can Do is there, and when it is not!

CDW Cover.final - CopyAs someone with many years of experience in nonprofit management and a background in behavioral health, the questions around what makes a “Can Do” workplace fascinate me and led me to write The Can Do Workplace: A Strengths-Based Model for Nonprofits. The book is focused on nonprofits because it has been my professional home for so many years, but also because so many nonprofits seem to be, unnecessarily, struggling in survival mode and missing the mark.

To celebrate the release of the new book, I am writing this series of Can Do Basics Blogs over the next four weeks, using the core concepts and practices of the Can Do Model. This first blog in the series starts at the beginning for me – with mission and gratitude.

“Can Do” can be an elusive quality or concept to wrap our heads around. It is about the organizational culture and the quality of the organization’s impact, yet there is more. Its framework is built upon a solid foundation consisting of two critical elements:

  1. A well-defined, meaningful mission that drives all of its activities, and
  2. An organizational culture that is grounded in gratitude.  (The Can Do Workplace: A Strengths-Based Model for Nonprofits)

MISSION: Can Do Workplaces keep a strong focus on their mission. Mission is a given in a nonprofit. Mission is what defines its purpose and motivates all of its goals and objectives – or should! When it does, everyone knows the “why” of their work and the alignment is stronger up and down the org chart – and side to side as well. Mission keeps motivation alive, for staff and clients, and promotes innovation that leads to positive change & growth.

Sometimes, the focus on mission can get lost in the day to day challenges of running an organization and the unending search for funding, which is quite dangerous. Each nonprofit hold a public trust that underlies and defines its role in the community and allows for its tax exemption. When mission gets fuzzy or forgotten, misplaced or left behind in search of funding, that trust is broken. Usually not all at once, but over time – hence the term “mission drift”. Remember, mission trumps money because a well-defined and meaningful mission, when kept front and center, attracts money.

GRATITUDE: Can Do Workplaces also focus on gratitude. Gratitude?  Where does that fit in the nonprofit world? Why, I think it fits there most naturally! Gratitude reminds us of what has gone well, not just what the problems are. Gratitude lets people – staff and clients – know that they and their efforts make a positive difference in the outcomes, even when goals are not fully reached. Gratitude inspires staff, volunteers and clients to try again and work a little harder to reach the next set of goals. Gratitude takes the “but” out of “yes, but…”  In short, gratitude generates its own “impact”, and we all know how valuable “impact” is in our world!

There is an emerging neuroscience behind the power and impact that gratitude can have for individuals and organizations. I recommend Robert Emmons’ Gratitude Works!: A 21 Day Program for Creating Emotional Prosperity (2013, Josey Bass).

MISSION & GRATITUDE. Basics. And, when combined, so very powerful! When they stay front and center in an organization, great things are more likely to happen, and happen more often. When they are forgotten… well, many of us have been there… and most often, we have left.

If you are interested in learning more about The Can Do Workplace, I invite you to visit the Can Do Workplace website and to order your own copy of the book, which contains a resource section on mission, gratitude and motivation and much more.

Check back here next Friday for the second in the Can Do Basics blog series: The Four Practices of a Can Do Workplace.  Til then, remember to Imagine What You Can Do!

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Introducing The Can Do Workplace: A Strengths-Based Model for Nonprofits

CDW Cover.final - CopyThe BIG day has finally arrived to release The Can Do Workplace: A Strengths-Based Model for Nonprofits. I invite you to click here to order the book from amazon.com or bn.com. It is available in both paperback and digital formats.

As I share my ideas and this new model with the wider world, I want to reflect on several core components of my own Can Do learning process.

When I started to write The Can Do Workplace, my goal was to expand my new found personal “can do” paradigm reflected in my first book, The Can Do Chronicles, and combine it with my nonprofit experience to create an organizational development resource that could help nonprofit execs and managers get past the “but” in “yes, but!” while dealing with their many “challenges, crises and issues du jour.” The book was intended to be motivational. To challenge and inspire. To be a thought-provoker that would help managers and leaders ask better questions to more consistently move the needle in nonprofit agencies and organizations.

That goal changed when I began explore the inner workings of the four exemplary nonprofits that are the center of the book: Momentous Institute, Warm Heart Worldwide, The Environmental Leadership Program and The National Head Start Association. I asked dozens of people hundreds of questions, and listened intently to their answers. Based on those conversations, I changed the goal to having the Can Do model be aspirational. To go beyond suggesting that leaders adopt some of the ideas and re-read some of the classics and new literature that are featured in its pages to pump things up for a while. Rather, I strongly encourage them to undertake the hard work to improve alignment, make better decisions, be strategic about change & growth and simmer their secret sauce to keep people – staff and clients – coming back. To motivate them to invest more fully in their mission and their people, and believe they can make a substantive, meaningful, Can Do kind of difference in their part of the world.

In the book, we are invited to peek behind the curtains to learn more about how the best do what they do – day after day – while so many of us continue to struggle with the tyranny of the urgent and the doable, and never quite get around to investing in excellence.

shutterstock_108972257For the people who work at these four high-functioning organizations, the Can Do process is not nirvana – it is hard, messy and often frustrating. But the work is real, empowering, meaningful and motivating. “We know ‘great’ & ‘difficult’ work together to achieve more impact,” is what they told me in different ways and words, over and over again.

I was very impressed with the ongoing hospitality and transparency of the leaders, volunteers and managers at those four organizations – to be open, to share their inner workings, struggles and victories. To a person, they were willing reflect on some hard questions and give refreshingly authentic answers. This was not done as an exercise or favor to me, but rather it reflects the way they interact every day with their employees, the people they serve and their wider communities.

One of the critical elements of a Can Do Workplace that was visited and revisited in the interviews with the staff at the four organizations was how thoughtfully and productively mistakes are handled compared to other places people have worked or volunteered. Mistakes become lessons learned upon which effective changes are based and made. Dealing with mistakes became such a recurring issue that I wrote a chapter on lessons-learned from my own “experience” (read: mistakes), reflecting, as candidly as I could, on what I would have done differently. It was painful, but insightful and very productive exercise, and is the basis for a new training module and workbook.

I want to close with a public thank you to all of the collaborators on the book, especially the staff from Momentous Institute, Warm Heart Worldwide, The Environmental Leadership Program and The National Head Start Association. You and your work are an inspiration for us all.

The Can Do Workplace does not have all the answers to the pressing issues we address. It reflects my perspective on our potential. I want to share that perspective with you, my fellow nonprofit colleagues, as a resource to help keep us the focus on the mission and the people… on the possibilities, not just the problems. I hope the book can be a catalyst to help us remember that we in the nonprofit world share a sacred, public trust that sometimes gets lost in the challenges, pressures and crises of the work we do each day.

I believe that the public trust of our sector to build community, through connected relationships, is the secret sauce of the nonprofit world. And, we owe it to the people we serve, the people who support our work, and to ourselves to make it the BEST secret sauce we can!

With gratitude,

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