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\While majority of the people will whine and complain about the daily woes and struggles they face, some people know how to rationalize their experience for positivity. The famous TEDX talk on happiness by Prof. Dan Gilbert emphasizes that no matter how difficult a person's situation is, it is how they rationalize that creates their own sense of happiness and contentment. If a bankrupt person who lost his family, his finances, his business over a bad deal, noted that it could have been his health that suffered, was grateful for the experience and took the opportunity to spend more time with his family and take on businesses that respect that. Or the recent politician who upon losing in the elections noted that it was time for him to 'spend more time with family, focus on his hobbies, and enjoy the little pleasures of semi-retirement.' That's synthesizing happiness.
The truth of the matter is that happiness is what we make out of any situation. Of course, there are other incidents where we would prefer something better than known tragedies. But even that you might be saying to yourself, 'it could have been worse, compared to something way nastier.' Given that comparative perspective, your brain will simply identify to the lesser evil that you have and feeling like your one lucky person to evade that scenario.
With the freedom to choose, according to Prof. Gilbert is one of the most difficult dilemmas facing humans. He said that, 'if our choices are bounded, we are more conscientious, thoughtful, and calibrated in our actions. I definitely agree.
For some of you, this skill is not well exercised, but for others, it comes naturally, as a sort of way of saying, 'I have decided to be grateful even I had difficulties or am currently having difficulties. It's what you get away with and get from these that could help you move forward more resiliently. It's a choice after all.
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A few weeks ago another cryptocurrency disaster made a shocking headline.
$1.4 Trillion dollar value was lost out of the Sam Bankman-Fried's FTX and its overall effect on the crypto-world. Why charities are banking on the crypto potential for giving until now is such a childish response? The volatility of this sector is such that you can trust your dog to go home after a day's out more than your crypto dollars to work for you. You can't trust a system when you know that there are no guarantees, no protections, no legitimacies, and no governance that underpin any modern system, whether it's the financial, political, social, and economic in nature.
Philanthropy, charity and giving must veer away from high-stakes, high-loss ventures when ordinary people's monies are at stake. What charity can afford to gamble these hard-earned monies earned from the skyrocketing inflations for the sake of creating a new approach, model, or vehicles?
In the banking world, trust is not just a philosophical value, it's the no. 1 operative word. Crypto is made-up money and before you know it, it's gone without a clue. Charities, check your donors and keep safe from the minefields of volatile approaches.
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Who in the world needs an objective outsider who can express and provide expert opinion that you won't need another second opinion for?
We all need one. In any stage of organizational life, an objective, impartial adviser provides a breath of fresh air. No compromises, no biases, no hidden agenda, no political dynamics. Just pure wisdom culled through experience, practice, and their own observations to serve your best interests.
Then why most Boards and Executive Committees do not anticipate and avail of an outsider perspective to help them make some of these most important decisions?
Fear of making the advisor privy to all the problems and turmoil they face which can be quickly mitigated through a confidentiality agreement and proper guarantees.
Fear of letting new ideas dominate that they haven't vetted or garnered buy-ins.
Fear of being threatened with a new person in the room.
Previous bad experience.
No experience whatsoever in this support.
Never cross their mind.
It could be a number of things. Whatever the reason, this is another missed opportunity for executives to remove themselves from the entrenched philosophies, mentalities, and positions in the organization and intentionally broaden their perspective. You have to bring in this element because amongst yourselves, the results could be a half-baked compromise which erodes any expected gains.
We all need it. You need an objective outsider regardless whether your going swimmingly well amidst turbulence or you are trying to survive. For one thing, the most value you can get from an objective outsider advisor is being truthful, identifying the 'it' that's sucking all other attempts to grow and improve to allow you to make the quickest resolution possible.
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A few months ago, a CEO told me that it seemed, 'everything is in order.' They are moving into a new building, operations have been reconfigured to accommodate an enlarged mandate, expanded personnel, and with secured funding, it is looking promising.
When everything is in order, is it not the best opportune time to plan your next steps?
Here are eight issues that CEOs of social purpose organizations spend their time on:
-Board Leadership and Governance
-Communications and Reputational Issues
-Innovations, Adaptation and Resilience
Which of these eight issues are focused on putting out fires and which are for innovation and building capacity for the future?
They are all areas to look for innovation, adaptation, and resilience. Let your managers and staff know that they can lead to innovate in their departments. These are systems and they all overlap for the organization. Wherever you are in the chart, change happens when people and systems change.
Anticipate that something will come up when you're putting things in order as a cause and consequences of those actions. Growth requires vigilance to outcomes and the resoluteness to continue in the direction of change. Ultimate, it's about minds, hearts, and systems in complete synergy and harmony.
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A few years ago, I met the Executive Director of a non-profit organization and upon sitting down after being ushered into the room, he told me that he has to leave after 15 minutes. I waited for the meeting for 5 minutes before I can meet him. Apparently, there was a family issue that he needed to attend to.
I asked, "Why did you even book this meeting in the first place?" He answered that he just wanted to meet and maybe ask a few questions.
It turned out that he just wanted to know what I specialize on and how much do I charge which were issues for advanced stage of the conversation. I found out this organization was heavily reliant on a pro bono consultancy that will probably continue in this way as long as possible. Why pay when you can get it for free.
I was out of there in 15 minutes which saved me time and energy to devote to better prospects.
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In a workshop a few years ago, the facilitator asked us about our superpower. I think I can safely say that I'm an encourager. Always an encourager.
I grew up between my older siblings and my younger one. As a middle child, I learned early on how to get along with everyone. I also learned that it's best to see the positive side of being a middle child, take whatever is handed down and be grateful for small allowances from infractions.
As a I grow older and worked in many workplaces, I use positivity as a strategy for coping, building up resiliency, addressing issues, and also building people up as well so that they could achieve their full potential.
The best encouragers that I met in my life were some of my family members and close friends. They saw the potential, passion, and dedication in me. My early teachers were formative. They believed in me before I have formed an healthy opinion of myself. And my life experiences proved that building relations is what matters most in the end. Okay you got the job done, got the award, got the business, or moved ahead in life, yes to that! But real success is really about lifting others up too and building them.
With mental health issues on the rise, inflation and economic pressures on many households, long-term effects of the pandemic, people are looking for ways to maintain their sense of boundaries and protect their sanities and peace. My superpower as an encourager is highly valuable and in-demand. I guess it's time to be more busy in this area.
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Provocation, as I heard from a Rotary Club member after my presentation, was something very negative to him. He was fed up by the polarization in our politics and culture, those that always demanding something and always looking for ways to tell someone should reform or else global destruction is at hand, instead of just aiming for common good.
While I recognize the current woke and cancel culture climate which we operate, I digress that positive provocation is more about not pushing, but encouraging, not forcing someone to change their views even with the word Provocateur or Provocation. Provocation means you're not settled with the status quo, however long it has served your purpose. It's always for positive growth, more relevance for the upliftment of all. It's about challenging norms that are no longer useful, thus, we can take some lessons learned from others, and adapt accordingly.
The woke culture of today denigrates everyone who is not in conformity, kills dissension and creative expression, and polices everyone's thoughts and feelings, making one feel ashamed and guilty of one's roots and privileges. Hitler's campaign was successful because it tackled the identity of German culture and ascribed a higher sense of importance over other races, ethnicities, and identities and loyalties of the German people.
Positive provocation is an antidote to the complacency in many organized systems around the world. Innovation, as Schumpeter defined is about 'creative destruction.' Taken in extreme literal way robs it of its substance. Innovation is doing and making things differently, whether it's a product, service, system, network, or process.
Positive provocation in the world of charity, development, humanitarian, and philanthropy requires a healthy dose of passion, purpose, provision, practice, and the right paradigm (5Ps). That to me is the philosophy of being a provocateur or a positive instigator.
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Today's managers must contend with some tough calls to make: when a staff is not performing satisfactorily and will never be able to meet up the work expectations no matter what. Firing the employee before it moves to a new role in the organization is the wisest thing to do. This is an opportunity to not just maintain the present work standards of the organization but to improve and innovate how these new recruits can enlarge the impact of the roles.
The reason why bad employees continue to exist is because their managers turn a blind eye to the situation until it presents more trouble. The costs of addressing a growing issue which would involve more absenteeism, team mates suddenly resigning, failure or incomplete work, customer service issues and concerns would be staggering to any organization large or small. Preventing that person to move around as if, he or she is a stellar employee and could be 'rehabilitated' could be a wishful thinking.
I saw first hand in my previous work employment that once a bad hire is allowed to continue performing in a substandard way, more trouble ensues. That employee caused a major havoc in the organization by refusing to follow ethical standards with financial disbursement of funds and abuse her authority by side-stepping the counsel of the Board and advisers of the organization. She caused the organization to be bankrupt and because there was no money to finance the daily operations, the organization had to decide to move the operations to another location and start anew with a very limited financial base. She was terminated but it caused major reputational damage and rift between the stakeholders that it took a while to get those back by the successor leadership.
Lesson of the story. When a person shows you who he/she really is, believe it. If the employee is not in the place where he/she could be ethical and meets work expectations, start the dialogue now and not later. Keep your documentation updated and address current issues that you observe in more than one instances. Don't wait for the legendary annual reviews or quarterly assessment. Always check in for improvement and growth purpose.
Lastly, keep your eye on the larger scheme of things. As a manager, you want all of your employees to excel in their jobs. It is also your responsibility to provide support, enabling environment, and encouragement. If all things fail, and you don't see the employee putting it the right commitment and effort, it's time to make some tough calls.
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I was in an online connections meet-up of a social enterprise eco-system network for the first time. What was my biggest take-away in a matter of half an hour talking to a group of strangers was the fact that at the end of it all: they were no longer strangers but good friends.
Building connections is not as easy as I thought it was. This problem is compounded during COVID19 where lockdowns increased social isolation and the mental health issues that come with it. Nowadays, for many, it seems that 'building connections' is seen as a luxury not as need. It's easy to work with colleagues over Zoom but building interpersonal connections is almost impossible or nil at this point. It's very easy to say that you don't have the time, when it's actually about prioritizing and valuing it.
I maybe immune to this at some point because I work alone and I'm basically to myself for many working days. To me, connecting is like breathing air. If I haven't connected meaningfully to another person, colleague, network member, client, prospect, or to anyone in my circle, I will be totally down for the rest of the week. As opposite of energy suckers, I long for energy booster communities which I can fully show up as a person, not just a professional and be embraced by them. In return, I show up and engage actively. There is no real substitute for that kind of community.
As I ponder on this today, I note that integration and connection requires discipline, strategy, and intentionality for these things to take place. Building it and they will come is a surefire for lackluster results. It's those things that are always taken off the plate when events get tough.
Instead of seeing it as burdensome or work-requirement to connect, note that you needed it as part of the humanity. We need to connect, belong, and share with one another, trusting and relying on each other to succeed in life.
With that Zoom community call today, I felt revitalized than ever. It provides levitation I need for the rest of the week. More of these, then I will feel like am really where I belong. Right here talking with people without any agenda but to connect meaningfully.
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As the year winds down, you can finish strong even in matters of few weeks.
2022 is full of challenges and opportunities. But these challenges shouldn't define your organization.
Your organization should be defined by what you have done in spite/despite the challenge and pressures facing every on-purpose organization
Are you ready .....
To think about what could be in 2023, in terms of restructuring and governance changes?
To think about a strategy that you could use in the next 2-3 years?
To set aside time for reflexivity within your team and Board?
To integrate lessons learned to new practices?
To improve your leadership and resiliency so you can model what it takes to lead without having all the answers?
To innovate next year as opposed to putting out fires and reacting?
You can finish well and in advance. Life is a series of starts and stops. Of continuities and discontinuities. Whether you believe this or not, next year starts now.