Do you wish you had more time or energy? Or perhaps both?
I've been talking to several clients lately who are struggling to fit everything into their days, and they are finding it draining. Yet the truth is, if we look at the slots in our calendar and match that up with our to-do list, we will never fit it all in. There's just no way.
Focus on energy rather than time
But instead, if we look at our energy levels and what's draining and boosting our energy, we may find some hope.
We all start each day with a battery level of energy. Sometimes our batteries are full. Sometimes not so much. Some things happen in our day that drains our battery. Other things boost our power back up.
Consider these examples
Nancy told me about a meeting she attended that sucked the life out of her!
But, Nancy also talked about a meeting she attended where she felt very excited for the next steps when she left.
Olivia finds her one-to-one conversation with one employee draining, and her conversation with another employee tends to lift her up.
What's the difference between one meeting to another? Or from one relationship to the other?
Why is it that one drains us and the other boosts us?
There are a lot of factors! However, many of us believe we can't control the factors when in truth is we can control some of them.
Here's how they've regained energy
For example, Rebecca knows that if she's had a draining meeting, she needs to make sure she schedules some buffer time to recharge after. So she plans to go for a 15-minute walk after to increase her battery level.
Anjali has realized that many of her employees find value in 20 minutes touch base meetings rather than a full hour and that it's less draining for both of them. They use an ongoing document for creating the agenda ahead of time. This document also allows them to cover as much content outside of those meetings as possible, such as program updates. As a result, the meetings are less draining and much more efficient!
The 3 energy drainers and how to recharge
What drains us falls into three main categories: People projects and problems. Below you'll find tips to help keep, maintain or recharge your energy level.
While you can't get rid of everyone in your workspace that drives you nuts, you can change how you engage in a relationship with them.
DO THIS: Consider which might work to shift the energy drain you experience from some relationships.
We often find projects very overwhelming, and many of them have time constraints around them.
DO THIS: Break the projects down into smaller pieces, so you're not as overwhelmed.
Rather than write the big project on your to-do list as one gigantic, overwhelming item, create tasks from the smaller project pieces. Seeing smaller parts makes a shift in your mind that engages you to get them done rather than pushing away.
Time management guru David Allen reminds us that projects and tasks are different. Tasks belong on our to-do list. Projects belong on a weekly strategic review list.
Many problems are energy drainers because we spend so much time worrying, fretting, and wishing them away. It's like we have open tabs in our minds that continue to draw power and energy on us all day long! No wonder you feel drained physically, emotionally and mentally at the end of the day!
DO THIS: Schedule time for strategic thinking. Taking time to intentionally do some critical thinking, weigh the evidence, and consider other perspectives helps you to make a decisive decision. One of my clients does this at her kitchen table, another on the run.
A tip here is that we rarely do good strategic thinking with our hands on the mouse. It requires a different way of thinking, which happens in the shower, cutting vegetables or tending to the garden! So schedule that time in as WORK TIME!!!! I bet you'll feel reenergized, clearer and liberated from that stuck place you've been in!
Put yourself back in control of your energy. First, be conscious of what drains you and how to regain your energy. Then, monitor it regularly and do what you need to keep your battery at a level that allows you to lead with impact AND have energy left for the rest of your life!
I am deep into the Apple ecosystem, so I was a little alarmed when my newsfeeds showed me an Apple security issue. I immediately headed over to install the update that came out to deal with that security breach.
Do you do the same inside of you when something INSIDE of you needs updating?
Your internal operating system may be at risk of being hijacked
Here's the thing, knowing my devices may not run as I want them to, I updated things. But what about me? Will I run smoothly without being hijacked when new responsibilities, roles and experiences enter into my daily experience? Will you?
This is what your internal operating system is:
Your internal operating system is what makes you, you. In Scaling Leadership, the authors describe your internal operating system as
What happens for most leaders, though, is that they continue to expand their responsibilities, roles and expectations of how they are doing things... but they never upgrade their internal operating system.
Most leaders neglect their internal operating system
Let's take the Covid world for a moment. Two years ago, we were not supervising staff via virtual conversations. To make the switch, your organization likely installed systems on your computers, updated the microphones and equipped you with a webcam. You've probably figured out a strategy for sharing virtual call links, agendas and how to share screens.
This Executive Director is learning to do updates
When I was talking with Phoebe yesterday, she spoke of a difficult conversation she was having with a client. I asked her if her screen was off or on. Phoebe smirked and shook her head no. She is reluctant ever to turn on her screen. I reminded Phoebe that it's important to read what's happening for the other person during a difficult conversation.
I suggested to Phoebe that having cameras off or on is not a switch. Instead, it's a dial. So perhaps we don't start with cameras on. However, when you have really learned to tune into your internal operating system, you can sense when something is off, a bit more sensitive, or there is a need to connect deeper. When that happens, your internal operating system is guiding you to have the courage to say, "Hey can we turn the cameras on for a few minutes."
But that takes awareness inside you to know what you're sensing, what you're feeling and perhaps what the other person is experiencing. You didn't necessarily need that skill two years ago in the same way that you do today with virtual calls. Then, you could read into someone's body language when you were sitting across the desk from them. Now you need an upgrade on your internal operating system.
How to update your internal operating system
Here are the steps to update your internal operating system so you can lead your nonprofit with effectiveness.
Look at your inner world and see which parts are working well and which need upgrades. Take time to examine:
I strongly suggest writing these down.
2) SHOP AROUND
Not all updates are the same. If your current assumptions are getting you into trouble or you are being triggered by someone regularly, assuming someone else needs to change is probably not going to work for you anymore.
Do the inner work to grow your level of awareness and emotional intelligence. Take time to examine your thoughts, beliefs and assumptions regularly.
Choose new mental models.
What got you here in your leadership will not get you to the next level of leadership you desire. So it's time for an update! It's also time to commit to regular updates. Finally, you need to put personal and professional development into your routine. Ongoing personal and professional development is your path to success in both leadership and life!
Help to update your INTERNAL operating system
If you need help to update your internal operating system, I strongly encourage you to find someone who can support you on this journey.
► In this article, you'll learn how to hire the best coach for you. I provide some questions you can ask a potential coach to ensure you are finding a good fit!
Remember, as your organization grows, the world evolves, and the sector swings back and forth; you too must grow. So don't neglect your internal growth.
Commit to ongoing personal and professional development, and you'll thrive in both leadership and life!
There are a lot of nonprofit personal and professional development courses out there. But are you taking advantage of them?
Many nonprofit leaders put courses, webinars and training on the back burner and never get back to them.
In this article, you'll learn how to shift your mindset and get you back on track with your professional development.
Here's the thing, how many of these or similar comments have you made lately?
If those comments sound familiar or all too true, you aren't alone! AND, they are not just signs of living in survival mode, but warning signs of burnout!
Do you know the signs of impending burnout?
Feeling run down and drained physically and emotionally, irritated with life, a sense that you aren't getting anywhere are all indicators of burnout. But before burnout is often long periods of survival mode. The majority of women leaders that work with me say they've been in survival mode for much of their career. Ugh! That is NOT how we want to live and lead!
How are you doing?
Start by looking back at yesterday. Were you thriving throughout your day, or did you spend much of your day in survival mode? Grab this worksheet and then consider over the last week, how much of your time were you just getting by, going through the motions, grinding away at your days., thus in survival mode?
Now, if I asked you where you want to be by mid-November, what would you say?
Do you have hope that it can be different?
Do you believe that you can get to thriving? I then asked you these three questions, how would you answer?
Here's why those questions are important ⬇️
Understanding how hope works
Research has shown that those that are thriving feel hopeful. Hope is made up of three components:
First, hope is the belief that tomorrow will be better than today.
Second, hope is an expectation that it's possible that you can reach that goal.
You need to have the confidence that you can get there. Remember, confidence starts with competence.
Third, do you have a plan of how you're going to do that?
Having hope will change your daily experience!
When you have all of those three components of hope, belief, expectancy, and pathways, there's a better chance you're going to be regularly thriving by mid-November.
At the end of the day, what you need is to create your plan!
How will you get there?
Learn the steps to create your plan
In this week's podcast, I break down planning for your personal, professional development this fall. That's not what sector-related skill you're going to learn this fall, necessarily. But how are you going to grow and develop as an individual and as a leader?
What will you do to do that, and when will you put that into your calendar.
The next question is how you're going to create that plan, and my guess is you might need a little bit of help with that.
Get help to create your plan!
In The Training Library, my membership site, I have a course to help you create your plan. When you join, you'll get immediate access to the Webinar Create Your Quarterly Goal Setting & Planning Strategy as well as every single other webinar and course to help you thrive in leadership.
This is what your peers created:
Below you'll find components of two of my student's plans that they have created after completing the webinar Create Your Quarterly Goal Setting & Planning Strategy.
Sasha's plan for thriving included:
Becca got serious on her plan, with lots of details!
It's your turn!
If you want to really create your sense of hope that things will be different by the end of the year for you, start with envisioning it, then cultivating the confidence to get there by developing your competency and finally creating a plan to do that.
You want to excel in leadership and make a big difference, but you feel like you spend more time chasing fires than moving to excellence. Therefore, you need a plan to ditch survival mode and move in the direction of confident, composed and impactful leadership.
Let me tell you a story to help you create your plan!
Eva came to a coaching call wanting support to be a better leader. She wanted to know where to begin. Eva knew that to be an excellent leader, it was important to her to be making a difference. She wondered if she should start with building her team?
Eva was also a bit worried as she was aware that an excellent leader leads with integrity, and she'd received some feedback lately that suggested her team didn't trust her.
On top of all of this, Eva's board was pushing her to grow in the sector. The lay of the land was changing rapidly, and the board was worried about the program's long-term sustainability. Eva needed to shore up her understanding of the political scope, new research and changes in reporting.
Where do I start? Eva asked. It's so overwhelming!
After acknowledging many leaders feel very overwhelmed (maybe you do too!) I encouraged Eva to pause and acknowledge her courage to ask for help and take steps to develop her leadership.
It's tough to look hard at yourself and then do the work to develop areas. It takes courage, vulnerability, grit and time! Reaching out and asking for help is something many leaders resist. They think it implies weakness. So instead, I explained to Eva that it's a sign of incredible strength and confidence!
Completing the Assessment
Next, I explained to Eva that we would start by assessing leadership competencies to get a clearer sense of where to begin. When everything is muddled together, and we are in reactionary mode, we keep putting out fires. Slowing down and intentionally assessing skills and developmental areas helps clarify the underlying challenges, what strengths we need to shine a light on more and thus, and where to begin.
As we know, it's essential to have a strong team. So I asked Eva some questions to help her look at her skills to identify where she may need to grow. Of course, you can do this too!
If any of those made you cringe or a bit anxious, perhaps those are areas to start. Eva knew she needed to look at how she was mentoring her team members. It was an area she felt she lagged in.
As Eva identified her board wanted her to understand the sector better, we looked at the following questions. Again, you can answer these questions too.
To get a deeper understanding of where Eva landed, she and many of my students complete a full assessment from The Leadership Circle, which includes 360 feedback from their team, peers, boss, board and community. It's a very robust tool. You can try the free version where you assess yourself here.
Eva's assessment came back with information that helped her narrow down what she needed to work on and how to do that. Just as she suspected, she needed to build mentoring relationships with her team to help them grow and develop. The assessment also pointed out how Eva's habit of being a perfectionist got in the way of her team feeling supported!
Creating the Plan
After we reviewed her assessment, the next step for Eva was to create a growth and development plan. Eva and again, many of my students develop a curriculum plan to go with their developmental goals.
For example, Eva looked at how she would increase her skills in team building?
With her assessment complete and a plan in hand, Eva already felt more confident that she could not only handle all on her plate but do so with increased competence and composure. She knew that she was ready to build a team that trusted her and could adapt to changes to provide long-term client support.
What's your next step?
So many leaders rely on not so helpful performance appraisals that their organization does. Most of the time, it's really not helpful. It focuses on what the organization needs, not necessarily what you need. And for many leaders, this document is nonexistent! They can't remember the last time they received valuable feedback.
For these reasons, I strongly encourage my students to get their own feedback and create their own plans from now on!
An excellent leader takes into account all areas and continues to grow and develop in them. An excellent leader is self-aware. They take time to reflect, develop their emotional intelligence, do the work to integrate work, life and wellness and commits to ongoing personal and professional development. What are you doing to be that excellent leader?
Which of these do you need to work on?
Just like Eva, you'll increase your confidence and find that you are making a bigger difference when you have a plan and begin working on the plan. Do the inner work. It's worth it!
If you need help to create your personalized curriculum for leadership development, start here.
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