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:

Who-Wants-Change

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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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!

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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.

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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.

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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!

Announcing the Seven Weeks of The Seven Secrets of a Can Do Life

Seven Secrets Workbook CoverThe first Seven Secrets of a Can Do Life virtual workshop series wrapped up its two week run last Friday. It was fun and filled with many firsts and special moments for me, including taping the two videos using my laptop webcam and coordinating the new series of podcasts. Taping the videos was definitely outside my comfort zone, and fraught with crazy mishaps like the calendar falling off the wall with a LOUD crash, and the cell phone that I thought was turned off creating very loud feedback BUZZ in my computer speakers about 9 minutes into a REALLY GOOD take!  Through it all, I learned not to take it all – or myself – too seriously!

My biggest fear was “what if I gave a workshop and nobody came?” so I was thrilled that dozens of people from around the world signed up, and then showed up and invested the time to make a Can Do difference in and with their lives. The feedback so far has been quite good, and I am still waiting for a few more of the workshop-ees to complete their surveys on Survey Monkey (hint, hint, if you can hear me,  you know who you are!). Part of me wishes I could follow it right up with another series and build momentum and keep it going and growing, but I want to let my experiences and their feedback simmer together, and carefully unpack the lessons-learned before making final decisions about the next round of workshops that will start in the spring. And, I am working hard on my new book, The Can Do Workplace, which has grown to be an engrossing project, filled with great wisdom in the case-stories I am currently writing about some awesome people and five extraordinary organizations from around the world.

So, I asked myself, am I just going to stay quiet about these Can Do Secrets until the spring? NO WAY! So, what to do? I thought about it for a while and came up with a great idea!

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Starting next Wednesday and for the following seven Wednesdays, I am going to use this blog to reveal the Seven Secrets of a Can Do Life to the whole wide world, one secret at a time!

SecretsWant to hear a secret?  Looking for some motivation to keep your New Year’s Resolution alive?  Need some inspiration to offset what is on the news and to beat the winter blues?

Check back here next Wednesday and you will find just that!

 

Until then, I hope you remember to imagine and discover what you Can Do!

 

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Need a Resolution for 2015? How about a more Can Do Life?

2015 On Athletics All Weather Running TrackAs 2015 rolls into existence later this week, some people are scrambling to figure out their New Year’s Resolution.

I am sure that there are many people out there who want to make a difference, be better parents, volunteers, bosses, employees, friends and caregivers – or be healthier and happier –  but just don’t know what to do differently. They set goals every year to “be a better ______” fill in the blank. But they get frustrated, busy, distracted and give up, and are disappointed in themselves until this week every year, when they start to make their resolutions again!

Here’s my recommendation:

The FREE Seven Secrets of a Can Do Life virtual workshop series might offer just the ideas, resources and support you need to make a Can Do kind of difference in 2015.

“It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are.” E.E. Cummings

The benefits of a Can Do life go way beyond what it does for us individually. I believe that there are many people who can use the Can Do model to become a Can Do Role Model for the kids (and some of the adults) in their lives. Become people who say YES! to life and focus on building their goals and achieve their dreams. Individuals and teams that make decisions based on possibilities and potential. People who quietly inspire and motivate others, sometimes without knowing that they do it.

With so many “sports heroes” clearly focused on themselves and having a good time, with so many so-called pop stars trying to outdo each other with odd, immature and weird behavior, and with the political leaders competitively tearing each other down, I say it is time for some everyday heroes to commit to show up, step up and speak up!

Seven Secrets Workbook CoverThe Seven Secrets of a Can Do Life virtual workshop series provides the resources, tools, inspiration and motivation to become an every day hero to the important people in your life, starting with you!

This new – and FREE – virtual workshop series starts on January 2nd and includes 2 videos, 2 podcasts, a workbook and a live tele-workshop on January 7th.

Registration is open. Click here for more information.  

You owe it to yourself and the ones you love!

Happy New Year!

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Moving from My Story to Our Story…. A BIG Step

Stories not only teach us how to act – they inspire us to act. Stories communicate our values through the language of the heart, our emotions. And it is what we feel – our hopes, our cares, our obligations – not simply what we know that can inspire us with the courage to act.  Marshall Ganz

cover.finalLast year, when I wrote The Can Do Chronicles, I was attempting to find my voice, to tell my story out loud and in the open. I was such a reluctant author! I told my story of personal transformation during a prolonged time of challenge and adversity, hoping that someone, somewhere might maybe, possibly get some inspiration from it. The whole experience felt awkward, like I was walking in high heels on a slippery sidewalk, and one false step would either totally humiliate me or cripple me for life – or maybe both.

I got the story out there. Whew! Met that goal. Ticked that box! Then in the months that followed, I realized I want to do more with it – with this Can Do “thing” that had become the center and focus of my life.

I want to share more than just my story. I want to spread my Can Do world view and its life-giving message.

I want to shift from telling my story to leading to shape “our story.”  Sure, shutterstock_945275my background in counseling, nonprofit leadership, training and writing comes together and positions me very well. But O.M.G., it’s taking a big leap of faith and courage for me to get out there!

But, I need to do it, so I am! I don’t want to keep it to myself because I believe CAN DO is too important!  

Why? In today’s world, where there is so much division, blaming, negativity and drama, I am totally convinced that a Can Do attitude and world view makes a fundamental difference in peoples’ personal lives, families, neighborhoods, workplaces and communities. I feel called and compelled to GET THE WORD OUT THERE about the promise and potential of Can Do.

So, for the last few months, I have been busy creating, writing, discussing and developing numerous strategies, venues and channels to GET CAN DO OUT THERE!  I am very excited and, I have to admit, more than a little scared about pushing, marketing and being OUT THERE. The age old anxiety questions pop up: What if you don’t like me or my message?  Or don’t agree with me?  What if I mess something up?  shutterstock_70290889Well, questions or not, I have put my “Big Girl Shoes” on, and back out there onto the slippery sidewalk I go!  I know it will not all go perfectly, but I am giving it my best shot with the resources I have today. I trust the voice inside me which has guided the creation and growth of Can Do for almost five years. And, I gotta say, I am pretty darned proud of myself for doing that!

So how and where is it all GETTING OUT THERE, you ask?  Here are a few good places for everyone to start:

  1. The Seven Secrets of a Can Do Life FREE virtual workshop series launches on January 2nd
  2. You can read The Can Do Chronicles with this early bird special savings of 15% – it’s the quiet launch!  To take advantage of this special offer, click here and when you check out, enter discount code 5K243YTD. The Chronicles is still available in Kindle format on amazon.com, but without the updating and refreshing I did for the paperback.
  3. The Can Do Dialogues, my new series of podcasts with inspiring guests sharing their Can Do stories, launched on December 2nd. The newest post is a great, fast-paced conversation with my friend, colleague and fellow cancer survivor and writer, Judy Leaver. Check back regularly to hear new, inspiring stories.
  4. I am writing my second book, the Can Do Workplace, and I just learned last week that it was accepted to be published by Motivational Press later this year. WOW!
  5. I have restructured Coridan Consulting to provide writing, training and interim thumbnailexecutive services that help nonprofits and small businesses navigate change & growth with excellence so they can make a Can Do kind of difference.

I am grateful that I have the combination of leadership experience and the gift of words – written and spoken – that allow me to share my story and begin to tell “our story” of the promise and potential of Can Do.

BUT

I cannot do this alone! My BIG 2015 goal is to use the phenomenal potential and opportunities afforded by the internet and virtual technology to create an online Can Do Community that spans and touches all part of the globe. Check back, I will be posting much more about it in the weeks to come.

In the meantime, I hope you will check out other posts on the Can Do Blog, take advantage of the early bird discount code to buy your copy of The Can Do Chronicles, listen to the the new post on the Can Do Dialogues and sign up for the The Seven Secrets of a Can Do Life FREE virtual workshop series…. And, imagine what our world will be like when we all make a little bit of a Can Do difference every day.

With heartfelt thanks –

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The Can Do Chronicles, Ferguson, MO & Thanksgiving

coverFor the last month, my life has been fully focused on the publication of my little book, The Can Do Chronicles as a paperback, moving it off the cyber-shelves of e-book status and “getting it out there.” I am in the final stages of developing workshops and workbooks designed to help people make “Can Do” decisions and say YES! to life every day. I have two white boards and two calendars filled with notes, deadlines and outlines for the mid-December launch. The To Do list has several items that are marked URGENT and IMPORTANT that were intended for “first thing this morning.”

URGENT and IMPORTANT got pushed aside with the sad news of the violence and destruction overnight in Ferguson. I have postings on my Facebook page from good friends from many years who see the grand jury’s decision as an injustice and are angry at the disparities and afraid for their sons of color. My heart hurts for them. Above and below them are also numerous postings about Thanksgiving, ranging from political cartoons about who the real immigrants are, to recipes for the green bean casserole, to prayers to share, to petitions to keep the stores closed. My Facebook page is my life’s little melting pot – so much diversity coming at me in just one news feed.

I took a walk this morning to clear my head, say my prayers and enjoy the last warm morning for a while. It gave me time to reflect on the deeper meaning that Can Do has for me, how it relates to Michael Brown, Darren Wilson, the people of Ferguson and the hundreds of youth and families of color that I have known and worked with through the years. I thought in new ways about the potential and promise of my Can Do message that has motivated me write my books and blogs to focus on sharing and spreading Can Do. My reflection was on the systems we have and how they fail us, in many ways and on many levels.

How many lives will be changed, some ruined, by moments in our history like Ferguson? What and where are the Can Do Answers or Can Do Directions when the guidelines become less clear? What are the lessons learned from these moments to help us get better, not just more bitter? How much bigger will the divide get – the divide that gets filled with blame and anger, finger pointing and righteousness? Where is the Can Do of Ferguson, MO? There are no easy answer here.

As I try to make sense of it all a few days before Thanksgiving, I remember part of a November 2013 article from America Magazine that was reprinted in our parish bulletin this week.

Some reflections of the origins of Thanksgiving might help us to renew this wonderful, truly American “holy day.” In 1863, in the midst of the horrendous Civil War, Abraham Lincoln make Thanksgiving a national holiday, calling in his proclamation for “humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience.” He urged repentance, a turning back to God, as well as gratitude for God’s bounty.

During this week when Ferguson and Thanksgiving are juxtaposed, with such intense media focus on what divides us, I ask myself what CAN I DO to find more ways to bring people together? With so much focus on what is not there, how can I, and we, find new ways to shine the light on what resources are there, somewhere in the ashes, to build on and work with?

This Thanksgiving, I will pray for Michael Brown and his family, and for all the families impacted, including Darren Wilson and his family. And, for the members of the grand jury who had such a difficult task; and for the lawyers, the police and the lawmakers to have Wisdom guide their actions.

I have spent many of the over 40 years of my career working with hundreds of youth and families that others have given up on. What I know in my bones is that those kids are only doing what we, the adults, are teaching them to do. We are their touchstones, their guides and their hope. This Thanksgiving week, I pray especially hard for all of the young people of all colors who have given up. And, I will pray for our country’s adults to not stop looking for new and more ways to say YES! and to show our young people how to say YES! too.

What is it we CAN DO going forward that will make a difference? At the core of my CanGratitude Do world view is my complete conviction about the power of gratitude to transform lives and unite, rather than divide, people. In the words of Mr. Lincoln, let us claim Thanksgiving as a day for forgiveness, a turning back to God, as well as gratitude for God’s bounty – and that from that vantage point of grace, let’s each one of us find just one little YES! that can start to unite us. That is my prayer for us all this Thanksgiving.