The voyage of discovery is not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes.
To Marcel Proust’s oft’ quoted phrase, I would add, “and new ears.”
The wonder of discovery that comes from seeing things with new eyes… hearing things with new ears. Or, maybe it’s just paying closer/different/better attention to what was there all the time!
Since the early spring, I have been job hunting for a CEO or Executive Director position of a small to mid-sized human services nonprofit. I gave this decision prayerful, careful thought. I am healthy again and interested in committing to a mission that makes a Can Do Difference. This perfect little job would be my “capstone” position to my very kid and family focused career.
The process has been very enlightening – and I have learned volumes about me and what my greatest strengths and skills are – and about the field, and where it is in the recruitment and selection of candidates for executive leadership positions. This blog is about me, my personal lessons-learned and the decisions I have made. There is a future blog brewing about the process and the field. (Stay tuned!)
At the beginning of August, I had tentatively made the decision to stop looking for a job, and to focus on building my consulting practice and promote my new book, The Can Do Workplace, coming out this fall. There is lots to do with new workshops to develop, new podcasts to record and a website to build, etc. Then, I got emails that I had been selected for a first, then almost immediately a second round interview with a really great local nonprofit. That’s the kind of email that makes my ego do that age-old happy dance and say “oh, they might Pick Me! Pick ME!”
After the interview, where I did quite well for most of it, but left with the feeling that I was, perhaps, trying a bit too hard to figure out what they wanted in a CEO, (“Pick me!”) I spent some quality time with my go-to best resource:
The Three “CAN DO Questions”
- What can I do? – this keeps the focus on the positive and what can happen, and off the negative and what is, or could be, going wrong.
- If not that, then what else can I do? – it keeps the positive juices flowing, and sets up for Plans B, C and Z, whether they are needed or not.
- And, just because I can, do I? – not everything possible is practical, healthy, or a good idea; sometimes the timing is not quite right or there needs to be one more piece in place (or taken out) before it is time to move a project forward.
The third question – I love that question. It’s the gut check! Just because in the spring I thought I wanted to look for a new job (and can do it), is it really what I should keep doing? With quick and simple clarity, my gut-check answer was NO! I listened to myself with new ears – and what I heard made a HUGE difference.
So, on the day after that interview, I made definitive decision to stop looking for that “perfect job” with the great mission to round out my career and, instead, use the platform that I have already built to create the perfect job for me. The “what” is not real different than what I was doing before: writing, training, capacity building, interim executive services with a focus helping nonprofits make a Can Do difference. It’s all right there, on the front page of my website!
What changed is the “why” and the “how”! And, here’s how they changed!
THE WHY: My goal is not to write grants, deliver workshops, mentor managers or to ensure compliance as an Interim Exec. I realized that I was so far in the details that I had lost sight of my goal! My goal is to help nonprofit leaders, managers and Board members make a Can Do difference. To focus on their missions. Create stronger alignment, create a plan to grow and make better decisions, and, simmer that secret sauce of theirs so that it attracts the best people. It’s where Cathi as the counselor in days of old, meets Cathi the consultant of today. It’s where I have great strength, not just of ideas, but with experiences that have taught me more lessons than most get in a lifetime – many of them the hard way! It’s where I can be the most authentic and resourceful me!
THE HOW: For a number of reasons, some of them quite good at the time, I was being responsive to requests for my services, and not focused on how to define a client profile and establish my client base. I had grown a little too comfy in my cave (read: office) and flip flops and was not putting enough energy into getting out there, reconnecting with the people in the great network I have built through the years. And, in finding ways to meet not just new people, but the right new people.
Trust me, it’s not that I’ve been lazy – I have been quite busy. But, not as productive as I know how to be. And, I allowed myself to be lured into the adrenaline rush (and crash!) of the waiting for something wonderful to happen dynamic that occurs when I am looking for “the perfect job”! (“Pick ME! and life will be wonderful for all of us!”)
In the last few weeks, I have shifted my focus, and become my own inner-coach, and asked myself another question: “what would I encourage me, the client, to do if I was the coach?” And, I started doing those very things. One of them on the list was writing this blog!
Lesson learned: take time to look with new eyes, listen with new ears – to our gut and our goals!
I leave you with the question: how will the Can Do Questions make a difference for you? What will you see? What will you hear? And, then, what will you do!
P.S. Stay tuned for the launch of the Can Do Workplace Website. It’s only a few weeks away!