I enjoy doing leadership development evaluation and getting into the nitty gritty of how program staff think about and implement their leadership development efforts. Some of the most important work of evaluations happens upfront and it’s work that programs would benefit from doing themselves. In the spirit of our former board chair, Eugene Kim (Faster than 20), I found myself thinking about how to share some of what we are learning more broadly to give programs a leg up in clarifying program goals, design and expected change. I am not suggesting that it’s not useful to have an outside perspective and new eyes on the program, but let’s face it, a lot of programs don’t have the resources for external evaluations. So for the DIY folks here are a few ideas:
Never in a million years did I ever think I would use data and mindfulness in the same sentence. For the past two months, I’ve been wearing a rock in a bra, a device called Spire. You think of it as a Fitbit for stress developed by the Calming Technology Lab at Stanford University. You wear it in your bra or clip it to your waist, and it measures your breath. It streams data to an app on your phone like your step count, but more importantly gives you a report on whether you are calm, tense, or focused based on the length, depth, and spacing of your breath.
In other posts on leadership where I mentioned love, I quickly offer the disclaimer that I am not talking about the ‘romantic kind of love.’ Well, today is different. On Sunday, July 24th, I married the love of my life after twenty-five years of being mostly single so I have had ample opportunity to think about love and this rather momentous occasion. And yes, not everything has to be about leadership but I couldn’t quite help myself.
A couple of weeks before the wedding a friend and former board member asked why we decided to get married instead of just continuing on as a solidly committed couple. I appreciated the opportunity for reflection, one that brought me back to a leadership value that is fundamental to the way I think about leadership and life, interdependence. We chose the ritual of marriage as a way to celebrate not only our union but the union of our communities as we brought people from all strands and times in our lives together as a full reflection and celebration of who we are as individuals, who we are together as a couple and who we are in community. I was so happy to be surrounded by people who brought us to this moment with their encouragement and support and who will carry us forward. We are capable of so much more together than alone. And it was a beautiful and sweet celebration of love. Love was in the air, in an infectious way that is kindled by weddings. One person hugged me and thanked me for the chance to step away for a moment from all that is hard in the world right now and to be lifted up by love.
We need to break away from the traditional, Westernized story of the heroic leader toward a more expansive, sustainable, and community-oriented leadership approach. This is the premise of this piece by Senior Project Director Michelle Gislason, which takes readers on a journey starting with thoughts on our current political landscape and ending with how we can create change in our communities—with stops along the way to consider adaptive leadership, outdated power paradigms, and nonprofit leadership. Enjoy the ride!
I have been watching the recent election coverage with a combination of dismay and disillusionment. As someone who self-identifies as progressive and works for social justice, the majority of the candidates not only don't speak to me, they don't speak for me. Personal attacks, verbal attacks, racism. And this is just from the left. The leading candidate for president on the Republican side is a racist, misogynistic demagogue. Just, wow. How disheartening and enraging. The one candidate who has come close to speaking to me? Well, the irony is not lost on me that hope for a revolution has been claimed by a 70-year-old white man from Vermont.
Here is a sad confession. I meditate in fits and starts even though I know in my soul that it’s a good thing on so many levels, and for reasons that others writing for this column have articulated better than I can. To add to the irony, I think I can’t make time for meditation. It reminds me of a story I heard relayed by Thich Nhat Hanh. He described arriving in Boston where he was picked up by a woman who had to stop on the way to get flyers and then on to a dry cleaning store to pick up something else and then a quick stop to pick up food for the event. Not an unfamiliar story for many of us. He asked her about how she managed the pace of her activities. Her response was, “You don’t understand, if I did not run around like this I would never have any time for myself” and his response? “It’s all your time!”
This article was first published on Eugene Kim's blog, Faster Than 2.0.This is part three of a three-part essay on facilitating group learning. Part two of a three-part essay on facilitating group learning. See also part one, “Getting real about experiments and learning.” and two, "Documenting Is Not Learning."
Two months ago, I blogged about my experiment with Dharmishta Rood and the Code for America Incubator, which wraps up in another few months. The goal is to help startups — in this case, a company called PostCode — develop great collaborative habits in its formative stage. The theory is that it’s more effective to build good habits from the start than it is to try to change bad habits later.
One of the first things we learn in life is whether and how to trust someone else. Our experience with our caregivers tell us whether we can be safe and secure in a dependent relationship, whether the environment is loving or hostile, open or closed to our discomfort, affirming or rejecting of who we are, and whether our basic survival needs will be met without fear. What we learn in these first relationships of trust-holding remain with us for all of our lives. They are the building blocks, the foundation for who we become. If we have not examined the origins of trust in our own lives we will be unaware of the influence they have on our behavior and the health of our relationships. We will be unconscious as to the effect these early formational experiences have on our leadership of others. We will be limited in our understanding of the impact that trust in our lives will have on the individuals and groups we invite into the vulnerable and risky work of adaptive leadership.
Beth Tener and Carole Martin presented ways of transitioning our organizations into a network mindset. They presented applicable tools to transform any organization. They answered many questions live, however, here are a few more questions that they were able to dive deeper into. If you missed the webinar you can watch the recording and view the slides. Beth and Carole also share more resources in this blog.