Friday, July 26, 2013

5 Signs You May Need to Get Your Ego in Check


It powers our actions. 

It enables us to get out of bed in the morning, make new friends, speak in public, and get to work.

Any leader needs a strong ego, especially social changemakers and entrepreneurs.  

Going against the grain, i.e., fighting injustice, forging a new path, or developing a new product or service takes serious strength.

But too much ego can also be a disaster!

It can make us lose our bearings, alienate others, and block out reality. 

Unsure whether or not your ego is getting the best of you?

Take this test.

If you answer "yes" to any of these questions, you may need to get your ego in check!

1. Do you think people are a means to an end vs. an end in themselves?  Hint:  They're not!

2. Have you stopped being curious and soliciting feedback from others?  Do you often assume you know best and are right?

3. Do you say "I" more than "We" when talking about your organization, company, or team?

4. Do you find yourself feeling chronically anxious or upset at work?

5. Do you feel like the weight of the world is on your shoulders?  And that you must forge ahead with super human force?

Again, if you want to change the world, you WILL have to stand in the face of the naysayers. And this means having strong convictions and believing in yourself.

But don't let your ego run you over.  Find a healthy balance between holding your own and making space for other possibilities.



Friday, July 19, 2013

You Are Pure Potential: Use the Stories of Your Life to Succeed

"So much of life, it seems to me, is the framing and naming of things." - Eve Ensler, In the Body of the World

The stories we tell define us. 

How we narrate the challenges and successes we face can make or break our resolve.

Are we going out of business or are we on hiatus while we retool for greater efficiency?

Do I stink as a manager or am I learning from my HUMANITY and getting a little better every day like everyone else?

Is the Civil Rights Movement over or evolving?

I'm not naive. 

I know that where we get to in this life is deeply influenced by culture and history and luck.  We are not magicians or time travelers.  That said, we can learn to control our own minds and power our self talk.

If you want to grow in self-awareness and live a fulfilling life you have to do three things.

a) listen to the stories you tell yourself 
b) determine if the are true 
c) create more empowering narratives for the future

The good news is that you don't have to do this alone!

A great boss, friend, or therapist can and should help you reframe your narrative, especially if it is holding you back or keeping you down.

Don't be afraid to reach out to others you TRUST for their insight, coaching, and support.  And don't be afraid to drop the Negative Nellies and bad influences in your life.

As my former boss used to say, "We are all pure potential!" Use the stories of your life to harness the positive energy and life force within you.  Don't create negative narratives that hold you back!

My best,


Sunday, July 14, 2013

Want to get better results at work? Love your people.

GOALS are important.  

Every succesful project, job, and relationship has a well-defined outcome.  Without goals we are rudderless.  And as the saying goes, "if you don't know where you are going, you may wind up some place else."

But PROCESS, i.e., how we get work done TOGETHER is vitally important too.

How many of us have worked in "winning" workplaces where people hate each other and tension abounds?

How many of us have left jobs where we loved the mission but couldn't stomach the office politics?

Regardless of whether or not you are "winning," HOW you treat people, i.e., how you lead (and follow), how you engage in conflict, and how you hire and fire can make or break your organization.

And that is because organizations are made up of PEOPLE and while people want to win, they want to be loved and respected too.

"Love?" you say. " I'm a manager, not a therapist." 

Don't be so sure!

According to Herzberg's Motivation-Hygiene Theory, people need four things to be happy at work.

- A chance to develop

- An opportunity for recognition and achievement

- Responsibility

- Meaningful work

Your job as a Manager is to help establish and align your team around shared goals.  It's also to create the systems and processes that enable folks to work productively.  But your job as a Manager is also to love or care deeply about your people and help them achieve THEIR dreams and ambitions at work and beyond.

Where do they want to be in five years?

What new skills are they dying to learn?

How can they take on more responsibility?

How do they want to be recognized for their contributions?

It may sound obvious but great management is also about building great relationships.  It's about helping others to be a little bit bigger and better than they were yesterday.

Get this part right and you will be half way there.  Get it wrong and you may be struggling to hit your targets all on your own.


Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Innovation is Overhead

My bestie, Laura Caligan, shared this brilliant thought with me today.

"Innovation is overhead."

If you want to ensure that your nonprofit stays relevant, which is code for continues to inspire funders, employees, and other key stakeholders. And achieve greater IMPACT in the world! Then you MUST innovate.


Because the world keeps turning!  Technology shifts, governments collapse, businesses go out of businesses. 

Don't believe me?

Borders. Kodak. Circuit City. May they all RIP.

You simply can't stay still and remain a success.

The challenge for nonprofits is innovation = overhead.  You can't develop new programs or services, change the way you communicate with constituents, update your brand identity, and overhaul IT without paying for it and this money goes to overhead, not programs.

There is currently much buzz in the nonprofit sector about changing the conversation regarding how to evaluate nonprofits.  Namely, some folks are tired of being judged by the percentage of their fundraising spend vs. the merits of their impact. Great!

If we want innovation in charitable organizations (and we do!) this is another reason to investigate how we think about overhead.  

Do we really want a dearth of innovation for the programs, services, and communities that need change most?

Your thoughts?


Sunday, July 7, 2013


"What made any of us think that the place we are trying to reach is far, far ahead of us somewhere and that the only way to get there is to run until we drop?"
-  Leaving Church: A Memoir of Faith by Barbara Brown Taylor

Meetings. Memos. Mail.

This is our life as Managers, Mothers - Mortals.

My husband is aMazed (ok, enough with the M's) when I share my work calendar with him.

"How exactly do you take a meeting and a call at the same time?" 

I'm so used to being over scheduled that I don't recognize the silliness of it all.

Don't get me wrong.  I like being busy.  Work, especially work you love, can feed your soul.  And like most women who work inside and outside the house, I excel at multi-tasking.  Sort of.

The problem occurs when DOING causes real exhaustion and isn't moving the ball forward. When all my activity starts making me feel worse.

At times like these it's important to STOP and reflect (or nap!) and answer Taylor's question above.

Who says being chronically busy is the path to living a good life?  

Pema Chodron, a Buddhist Nun, and one of my favorite "coaches" talks about busyness as a defense against living a wholehearted life.  

While we often complain about the chaos of our lives and how much we crave down time, stopping is scary.  It takes practice to be still and settle down.  DOING is a buffer against unpleasant feelings.

According to Taylor, "Anyone who practices Sabbath for even an afternoon usually suffers a little spell of Sabbath sickness.  Once you have finished the paper and a second pot of tea, you can start feeling a little jumpy...You can find yourself crying buckets of uncried tears over things you thought you handled years ago."

Still, compulsive activity is not the answer. Be brave. Take heart. If you center yourself in the present moment (even for one moment) you may experience unpleasant emotions.  However, you may also surprise and delight yourself!

I hope you make and take time to rest this summer. To play. To be with your family and friends. Or to simply sit quietly with yourself. 

Stopping is as important as moving if you want to live a good life.