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!

cathi_rev.slant

 

 

Can Do Takes One Step at a Time

I am in the beginning of a new job search. As part of the process, I have taken time this week to sort out my great accomplishments (why, yes, I do have a few!) from the rest of my professional experiences. And then, to take that process a step further and to harvest some of the important lessons I have learned.

My big lesson learned that I have been reflecting on today is taking “one step at a time.”

 

shutterstock_57919390

We don’t need to be on a tightrope to have this sage advice be relevant.

My tendency, when starting something new or dealing with major deadlines, has been to push hard and try to learn everything I need to know in a minute. Or, maybe five. But, no more than ten. Then to try to do everything at once!

Happily, I have discovered recently, that is changing.

For the last two months I have been the Interim Executive Director for a small nonprofit that is, sadly, closing its doors. While I have been working with the Board and community partners to close the programs and dissolve the corporation, the need for me to remember to take short, measured steps has been HUGE. Partners all want their reports done first. Creditors all want their bills paid first. But because I just came in at the 11th hour (actually about 11:58, to be exact), I need to GO SLOW and pay careful attention to the details because I don’t have the institutional memory or history that provides critical context. So, I have asked hundreds of questions, sometimes (often!) more than once!  And, I need to remember to say thank you (often!) to those who support my slow and methodical approach, especially when they would have preferred to get their report yesterday!

Concept Handwritten With Chalk On A Blackboard.

I want to share proudly that I have been doing a pretty awesome job of taking one step at a time. Yup, I really did learn this important lesson.

And, as an added bonus, I am less stressed. More patient. More pleasant to be around! More efficient. And, better able to understand the relationships and connections between the moving parts of the reports, programs and the organization.

Wisdom for this Week: You are never to old to learn to take baby steps, even in your big girl shoes!

shutterstock_70290889

 

 

 

Gratitude Is a Choice!

The quote this morning in the gratefulness.org email was from Henri Nouwen, and it really hit home with me.

GratitudeGratitude as a discipline involves a conscious choice. I can choose to be grateful even when my emotions and feelings are still steeped in hurt and resentment. It is amazing how many occasions present themselves in which I can choose gratitude instead of a complaint.

 

Life has been a little bumpy of late – that kind of bumpy that comes with change & growth!

The words Bumpy Road on a barrier or blockade as a warning sign

 

For example, last week, I had a MAJOR let down in my search for new work. The kicker was that very disappointing news was delivered in a wholly unprofessional and dismissive way. It took me a while to find my breath, let alone my attitude of gratitude. I asked my friends for support and prayers and took long walks, and said more than a few prayers for everyone I had met in the search process, including the one who had been so rude. Then, I took that great advice from Joe Walsh and the Eagles – GET OVER IT!

shutterstock_102914342

Now, it is all history: THIS TOO SHALL PASS was true once again!

Then there is WORK, which is not bad, but JUST PLAIN HARD & TEDIOUS!  My current Interim Executive Director position is with an agency that, sadly, is shutting its doors. Closing down an organization is not an easy task. My days have been filled with creating comprehensive, detailed reports, both programmatic and financial, for contracts and programs I did not even know about until they were long over! The deadline to have them all delivered is tomorrow. My eyesblack-mold-allergy-problems-itchy-eyes are about to bleed from compiling spreadsheets and reviewing bank statements and receipts!  I have had help from one remaining manager whose last day was today. The rest is up to me – to tie up loose ends and get the invoices in to get the money in, then to close and pay off vendor accounts and begin the dissolution process. Details, details, details and then new details. They are unending, and I keep finding out there is more that needs to be done than I first believed on almost every front! During this ongoing challenge, and I am grateful for many of the people I have just come to know (and won’t get to know for long!!), who have been extremely supportive of me as I have tried to make sense out of it all!

So, even though I am tired and my eyes are going to fall out…

Even though the journey is taking me in directions that are quite different from what I was led to believe week before last…

Even though the future is very uncertain as I write…

I am grateful:

For my health.  I can’t say that one often enough.

facebookFor the over 200 responses on my Facebook page last week when life knocked me down for a few minutes and I asked for quick prayers and some extra support!

For the special home I share here with my awesome and supportive hubby and partner, Ned and our “wonder dog Chippy”!

For the beautiful azaleas and dogwoods in bloom.

For friends and family around the world. My collection of peeps is so diverse that I am never bored!

For this blog, where I can use my writing to learn a little bit more about living a Can Do Life!

And for my faith – and the ever growing opportunities I have to deepen and explore its reaches.

shutterstock_121922443

 

Tough couple of weeks?  Yup!

Grateful?  More than ever before in my life!

What are you grateful for today?  I bet you can list at least five things!  And, to make it better, I urge you to share those things you are grateful for with those you love!  You never know when that little bit of sharing will make an important difference for them, too!

cathi_rev-slant

 

 

 

 

The 7th – and Last – Secret of a Can Do Life!

Find and keep a sense of humor.

Why? Because life it hard enough – being a grouch or always serious just makes it harder.

Song in my HeartBack when I had just started chemo, I was talking with a friend when, I out of the blue I remembered a movie I loved as a kid, With a Song in My Heart.  It is the story of Jane Froman, a singer who toured Europe to entertain the troops during World War II, who was seriously injured in an airplane accident. Painfully and slowly, she rebuilt her life, always keeping a song in her heart. Jane Wyman played her in the movie and I can hear the song in my head as I type.

That was how With a Song in My Heart became my mantra during chemo, reminding me not to take myself or my situation SO seriously. I learned to laugh about the indignities of chemo – from rashes to the runs – and to laugh at myself in the process! That lighter and more playful attitude helped me grow and learn so much more about what is important in life during my chemo and recovery experience.

A sense of humor balances us. And, laughter bathes the brain in endorphins which shutterstock_45929179soothe and heal the stressed out places. I believe that laughter allows the gratitude in your life to take root in your heart.

One of the most important places to be able to laugh is at work, with the caveat of being respectful, and being careful not to be inappropriate. I have worked in several very high risk, high intensity programs where how a crisis was handled could mean life or death, or at least risk of serious injury. But, even in those environments, maybe especially in those environments, I have appreciated the ability of my colleagues and employees to balance the stress with some lighter moments. I have discovered that sharing a laugh with colleagues helps create bonds that create a carry-over of positive vibes that can be quite helpful during stressful meetings.

Once, long before my Can Do days, during a very intensive program proposal writing process, a colleague who was a partner in the project called and said he had something important to tell me. I took my eyes off the narrative to pick up the phone, thinking “this better add another $10K to the project’s bottom line, or I will scream!” After I said hello, he said, “if at first you don’t succeed,” then paused.  I, somewhat tersely, responded, “yes, what?” to which he answered, “don’t try sky diving!”  It was just what I needed. And more than 10 years later, I still remember it!

catnap

Finding and keeping a sense of humor – so full of wisdom that adds years to our lives and life to our years. And in today’s era of technology, being able to laugh is as easy as finding the puppy, kitty or baby videos on YouTube.

Speaking of YouTube (how is that for a finessed transition!?), I have posted two short preview videos for the new Live YOUR Can Do Life online workshop that launches on Friday!  Click here for the Intro to YOUR Can Do Life and click here for Making Possibility Decisions… One of the promises I can make about the workshop series is that it will be engaging and, yes, even fun! While registration is open until March 27th, I encourage you to sign up today to get the most from the workshop videos, tele-workshop on March 18th and the Live YOUR Can Do Life Workbook. Click here to learn more!

Thanks for joining me on the Can Do Blog during these last seven weeks to learn about the Seven Secrets of a Can Do Life!  Writing these posts has been great fun and allowed me to understand and live the secrets a little deeper myself.

The fun does not stop here!  Be sure to sign up to be on the email list for the Can Do Blog. (From the menu, it is on the right side of the Can Do Blogs page.) I have made a commitment to post a blog or podcast every Wednesday. It’s kind of my anti-hump-day statement.

monkey-headerNext Wednesday, I will be posting the Can Do Dialogue podcast that my colleague and friend Troy Thompson and I are recording about his fascinating, meaningful – and funny, I might add – No Evil Project. We won’t just be monkeying around, either!!  Come back and check it out!

In the meantime, stay well and remember that you can change the world by making the commitment every day to have a positive attitude, grounded in gratitude and based in reality.

cathi_rev.slant

 

It’s Time for the 6th Secret of a Can Do Life

Remember, life comes in cycles.  It’s quite simple and quite timely, this 6th secret: Remember, life comes in cycles. Just when we are SO READY for winter to be over and SPRING to get here.

spring-clip-art-spring-flower-clipartSpring is COMING! There are little signs around us.  It’s March. Spring training games started in Florida and Arizona this week. Daylight savings time starts this Sunday. While it is sure to snow a couple more times in many places across the US, it is a bit easier to take because Spring is COMING!

One of life’s great blessings is that our life comes in cycles. Daily. Monthly. Seasonal. Repeated, yet always changing.

How is Life Comes in Cycles a Secret of a Can Do Life? At the core of my Can Do life is a commitment I make every day (sometimes more than once a day!) to live my life with a positive attitude, grounded in gratitude and based in reality. The great thing about life coming in cycles is that no matter how yesterday went for me, I get to start each day new with this commitment.

shutterstock_77844214Life cycles give us two opportunities – one is to start over!  Not in the Scarlett O’Hara procrastinating way of “I’ll think about that tomorrow!” But in the ability to recommit with new energy to how we live our life and work toward our goals. The sunrise brings new light and new energy.

As does spring. For spring, we have rituals, like spring cleaning to brighten and light up our environment. For some of us, it is a re-commitment to exercise after the winter hibernation filled with comfort food and loose fitting sweat pants! Some people go away for Spring Break to play in the sun. In the Christian and Jewish faith traditions, we celebrate Easter and Passover, both of which are filled with symbols of new life, freedom, promise and hope.

valentine-clipartcom-free-valentine-clip-artLife coming in cycles also gives us the opportunity to remember moments, such as anniversaries and birthdays. To remember and to learn important lessons from the past for our future. Then, to recommit. For me, February 14th is much more than Valentine’s Day. It marks my anniversary of remission from Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia.  It reminds me of how precious my health is and how privileged I am to have it restored!  I try to keep that in mind every day, but I celebrate my health and my new life in a special way on Valentine’s Day!  And I use that day to commit again to working on my goal of keeping myself healthy.

As spring awakens the earth after the long, cold, grey winter months, I invite you to join me in recommitting on a new level to a whole and healthy life – YOUR Can Do Life.

Imagine hoTodayw much happier, more productive and stronger our families, neighborhoods, workplaces and communities would be if everyone made a commitment starting today to live his or her life with a positive attitude, grounded in gratitude and based in reality.

I hope that this spring, you Imagine, then Discover What You Can Do!

P.S. One way you can do this is to participate in the new Live YOUR Can Do Life online workshop.  Registration starts on March 6th and the workshop launches on Friday the 13th. The multi-media program is open online for two weeks. Learn more by clicking here.

 

 

 

Curious About the Third Secret? WOW…That’s Inspired!

The third secret of a Can Do Life is to be inspired and have a sense of curiosity!

The day-to-day, minute-to-minute, meeting-to-meeting-ness of life leave us surrounded by stress and mired in minutiae. Traffic. Technology. Kids’ sports schedules. Work deadlines. They seem to conspire to suck our brains, hearts and souls dry!

Enter the third secret!  Be inspired & have a sense of curiosity. Don’t stay stuck! Take time to look away from, under or behind all of the “stuff” and “ness” of life to get back to the meat of life’s meaning.

Inspired ([in-spahyuh rd]) adjective: meaning aroused, animated, or imbued with the spirit to do something, by or as if by supernatural or divine influence

Be inspired.  Do you have a favorite song, poem, piece of art, photo, prayer, essay or book that lights up your heart?  How often do you “visit” the things that provide inspiration? I have two songs: the four Jean Valjean’s singing Bring Him Home at the Les Miz 25th Anniversary concert and Peter peter-paul-and-mary-holiday-concertPaul and Mary singing “Light One Candle” at their Christmas Concert from years ago. These songs fill my heart with hope and love. Both songs’ You Tube videos are bookmarked so I can jump right to them when I need a little inspiration – Light One Candle is just a little under 4 minutes long and a great investment in keeping my light from going out!  How and where can you put and keep a little piece of personal inspiration close at hand?

People also inspire me. In the Can Do Chronicles, I wrote about several people in my life who are everyday heroes that inspire me. I talk about Lorna, Steve and Julie, and how their lives and our relationships help keep me focused on what is important. I add to that list on a regular basis. Recently, I find that the people I am interviewing for the case stories about Can Do Workplaces for my new book really inspire me: Michelle, Karen, Frankie and Sandy; Michael and Evelind; and Errol, Jenna and Michael. Their commitment to and respect for the people they serve draws me into their stories and inspires me to share them with the world!  Who in your life inspires you?

curious (kyo͝orēəs) adjective:  meaning eager to know or learn something.

Have a sense of curiosity!  Ever been around a 3 year old who is filled with questions shutterstock_1296518and the energy to explore his or her world with unbridled curiosity?  You can almost feel those brain cells lighting up, expanding and connecting, driving that child to search even harder, explore even more!

shutterstock_116496178 (2)Where does all that curiosity go?  Somehow, as adults, it seems to get replaced with a different kind of drive – an urgency to get someplace and do something and a frustration if it takes more time that we think it should!  Life is so much bigger than our little worlds, and there is so much to explore!  When was the last time you took the “scenic route” just to find out what was there? Or asked someone why they like their work, home, car or hobby to learn more about their interests?

95f33/huch/1413/hl0152Michael Gelb is the author of several books on creativity and innovation, my favorite of which is How To Think Like Leonardo da Vinci: Seven Steps to Genius Every Day. In what he calls “the self-help book that Leonardo never wrote,” Michael presents seven principles, the first of which is

Curiosita: an insatiably curious approach to life and an unrelenting quest for continuous learning. 

Michael believes that “curiosita – the quest for continuous learning – comes first because the desire to know, to learn, and to grow is the powerhouse of knowledge, wisdom and discovery.” In the How To Think Like Leonardo Workbook, Michael challenges us to make a list of 100 important questions. Most of us get stuck at around 8 or 9 questions. I challenge you to make a list of 10 to 20 questions, and then to go out and explore, satisfy a little bit of your curiosity looking for the answers!

Thinking Woman Making Decision And Have An Idea. She Looking UpThe cool thing about curiosity is that the more things you do to try to satisfy it, the more it grows!  Questions beget questions.

If one of the things you are curious about is how to get and keep more “Can Do” in your life, then I suggest subscribing to the blog via email on the main Can Do Blog page. That wayyou don’t have to go looking for new posts!  They will come to you every Wednesday!

Have a great week until next Wednesday when I reveal the 4th Secret of a Can Do Life!

cathi_rev.slant

 

 

 

The Second Secret of a Can Do Life Is…

…to be and stay goal driven.

Can you name your life’s goals as easily as you can name your favorite foods or your favorite vacation destinations?  Do you set goals, yet never seem to make enough progress toward accomplishing them?  Are your dreams real for you, or just something you use to think about as an escape from your current situation?

Goals are dreams with deadlines - motivational phrase on a vintaThere are so many things that I could say about goals, their connections to dreams and the power that they have to change your life, much more than this little blog post can hold. The message I want to communicate here is about the importance of having and working toward your goals, and making sure your goals are connected to your life’s dreams.

Why is being and staying goal driven the second secret?  Because our goals based on our dreams give our lives meaning… and they give us hope when life gets hard and messy. Our goals can provide us with the motivation to overcome life’s challenges that come between us and our dreams.

shutterstock_105026252

Setting meaningful goals requires us to be able to define and describe our dreams. It is never too late!  Age does not matter. In fact, I would argue that as we get older, it is just as important to us, and to the world, that we work to know, aspire to and reach our dreams.

What are your dreams? I encourage you to take some time in the next few days to think about those dreams. Mine dream has been to be a writer… to use my words, images and stories to motivate and inspire people to reach their potential.  I am in this moment, quite literally, living my dream!  And, it is AWESOME!

Our goals provide the road map on our journey toward those dreams. Newton’s first law of motion is: a body in motion tends to stay in motion; a body at rest tends to stay at rest. Coridan’s Corollary is that a life in motion tends to stay in motion… We need to be and stay goal driven to keep our lives moving in the direction that meets our needs and keeps us healthy. Otherwise inertia creeps in, and we know that a life at rest does not achieve its dreams!

Not all goals are the same. For one thing, they come in sizes. There are big goals, like buying a house, getting a degree, raising a family, retiring to a warmer climate… and then there are the smaller goals that lead us to the big ones, like saving money, enrolling in a class, meeting someone special with whom you would consider raising a family, and again, saving money. Breaking things down into a smaller, more manageable size makes the goals easier to achieve.

America Football field with ballI like to think of the need to set smaller goals as the “rule of the first downs.”  I am a big Ohio State Buckeye Football fan. I know that this dream that we just realized of becoming the National Champions did not all happen with big plays and dumb luck. The team focused (in part) on working together on basics, on getting first downs and building the momentum and the rhythm to be ready when they have a chance – and THEN they made the big plays. When I watch football, I sometimes yell at the TV to remind the Buckeyes, or the NY Football Giants, that when they have the football, they don’t have to do any more than get that next first down unless the opportunity is really solid for the big play. First downs create scoring opportunities and build momentum. First downs win games.

Do you want to become more goal driven?

Set Goals Hand Red MarkerTo help get you started, I have several questions: What are your big goals?  The ones that you focus on for a year or two at a time?  How are they connected to your dreams?

Then, what are your smaller goals, the ones that form the steps on the way to your bigger goals?

Where are you starting?  If your big goal is to run a marathon next year and you have not worked out in five years, I hope you will create a different plan than if you have been running 5Ks and are ready to step it up!

Start by writing your goals down today!  Work with them, revise them, talk them over with your family and friends. Start small and build – daily, weekly and monthly goals function to help keep things manageable. Losing 5 pounds usually comes before losing 10; running a mile comes before winning a marathon! Writing your goals down lets you put big red check marks next to them when you are finished – and I find that checking off completed goals is a great way to build and maintain momentum.

shutterstock_122400934

Be and stay goal driven… it’s not such a big secret, is it?  But, it holds the key to achieving your dreams!  Goal setting unleashes the power of Can Do to help you become the person you were meant to be!