Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The Pursuit of Joy

I have a new acquaintance (quickly becoming a friend) who is a talented, educated, experienced, skilled professional in her non-profit field. She is fantastic. And she has been stuck in a rut professionally. I know she is a success--meets her goals, contributes positively to the cause and culture, leads--but she would describe her existence as joy-less. Something is missing.

It took some time. Then the shift happened.

Perhaps you can relate: There are those moments in our lives when we have had enough of our circumstances being the way they are and we make a change...a deliberate, conscious, intentional shift in the dynamic in order to create a new dynamic. We stop waiting for something to change and we go out (or inward) and make the change! My friend did this. She stopped waiting and she started making. It did not take long before the new job, the new home in a new state, the new challenge was created. She stopped living from the place of managing circumstances she did not like and began vigorously shaping her desired life and circumstance. Re-frame!

It wasn't easy, I'm quite sure. Big results require big effort.

And in this case, she chose to shift away from "what can I do to make this situation more tolerable?" to taking a big risk in today's unstable economic climate and pursue a job where she can make a real impact and feel real passion and joy. Big, scary, "what the hell am I doing" kind of effort! To be fair, I am all for the need to sit still and examine our current states of being in order to mindfully shift energy, resources, time into more fruitful areas. But quiet exploration must yield to real work, to sincere effort, to doing something!

Name your rut, your stuck place right now. What is holding you back (for you in the non-profit world, the answer is not "money")? What do you really know about this place? Now imagine the shift to something else, a different place, a different perspective. What will it take to get there? Name some action you can take to get closer to this new place. What are you willing to "spend" in order to get there? What will it "cost" you to stay where you are? what are you willing to do in order to be who you want to be?

My friend wanted to find joy. Pretty simple conceptually, yet achieving the goal (finding joy) is loaded with practical and emotional weight. Finding joy requires various levels of risk, perseverance, and a sense of humor. What else?

What do you want?

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Tough Times

A major study produced by Guidestar about the financial health of America's non-profits in the first half of 2010 was released today (7014 respondents) and it contains great validation and little surprise. In short:
  • Charitable contributions decreased greatly.
  • Fewer individuals gave.
  • Gifts from individuals were smaller.
  • Demand for services increased modestly.
  • Foundation grant awards decreased.
  • Foundations made no major changes in their grant making processes.
  • Number of funding requests remained the same.
  • 2010 annual budgets increased slightly over 2009.
  • Budget reductions are due to reductions in activities and services.
  • Volunteerism has stayed the same.
The full study--The Effect of the Economy on the Nonprofit Sector--complete with charts and graphs, can be found here.

It is a tough time out there for nonprofit organizations! But you already knew this... Yet, I am convinced, if you meet the challenge of the times with new perspectives--for leadership, staffing, measurement, donor stewardship, fundraising, service delivery, strategic planning, board management, volunteer recruitment, message management...everything-- you will come through in a better place.

What are you learning from these times? You have a solid sense for now...what's next? Try removing money (funding, fundraising, etc.) from the equation for a moment...what's going on in your organization? Here's the creative, new perspective part...what solutions can you come up with that do not require money (funding, fundraising)? Money is just one of the many tools you have available to deliver the services you are committed to; what are the other tools you have available and how well are you using them?

The inward journey during a time of external chaos is worth exploring. Give it a try!

And give me a call if I can be of service to you.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Make It Up

I just returned from a month of travel and have now completed many of the tasks that lingered in my absence. A terrifically satisfying accomplishment: Cleaning and organizing my office! In the stacks of paper waiting to be filed, I found a paperclip holding three random notes. I do not recall the origins of either scrap or even why the content was important at the time.

Maybe there is some wisdom to share.


Make up your own philosophy.
Invent your own story.
Free up your own imagination.
Create your own self.
Perfect your own flaws.
Follow your own evolution.
Believe in your own team.
See your own ability to change the world.


Utility. Trust. Pleasure. Virtue.


Don't be a conveyor of information. Use the information. Impact.

My dear coach friend will often ask "So what do you make up about it...?" I love the freedom in the question, the freedom to be creative, not to have to know it all, and to find value in the discovery.

So what do you make up today?