Do you remember how you felt this time last year? At the beginning of 2020, for me the possibilities seemed well… possible and hope seemed a reasonable assumption. But perhaps – if you’re like me – you’re starting THIS new year a little differently. Hesitantly and with caution, maybe? Hopeful but with trepidation, possibly? Optimistic but cynical?
Perhaps the beginning of last year seems not just one year ago but many lifetimes long past. The fatigue of 2020 is still with many – personally and professionally. If you’re in a leadership position chances are you faced some of the prominent challenges brought to light by the pandemic, ongoing social justice concerns, volatile stock markets, divided political election and screen fatigue.
The future is still unclear and while we wait for our turn in the vaccination line (or choose not to), there undoubtedly will be many changes we’ve yet to uncover ahead for us all.
So what can we say we’ve learned from last year that can positively impact this one? Beyond the challenges, there’s been a common humanity many of us have found. A slower and more intentional pace to our work, life and family. We’ve found new hobbies & habits. We’ve connected more with others. We’ve become more willing to adapt or “pivot” in our personal & professional lives, especially when we get to control when that change can occur.
If 2020, was the year of recalculating, I invite you to join me in thinking of 2021 as being the year of reimagining. An opportunity to closely look at the possibilities and reimagine the new realities of the way we do business, the way we work & the way we connect with others.
Who You Are Is How You Lead
As an admitted lover of control (control freak, you say?), I enjoy planning things down to the finest detail. In fact, during my childhood, I would make schedules for my Saturdays and inflict them upon my friends to find some sense of control when my mom was experiencing the first woes of her long-term illness. It’s still my go-to, especially at the beginning of a year, when I can look at the calendar ahead and manipulate it however I choose. Rarely – no, NEVER – do plans go exactly as designed.
What elements of self-awareness can you focus on growing this year? What types of activities will bring you joy AND a greater level of self-understanding? How might an increased level of self-awareness impact your ability to lead yourself, your organization, your team or your family?
Gain New & Improved Vision
I am often amused, impressed, and saddened that my children now critique television show characters when they don’t have masks on. “Mommy, do they not have the coronavirus there?” is a common question by my 7 and 9 year olds, especially when I’m daydreaming while watching my HGTV’s Beach Front Bargain Hunt. Of course, I get to explain to them that these shows were filmed years ago and not in 2020 or that cartoons can’t catch the VID (I think). Regardless their questions always give me pause and offer another sense of reality that didn’t even honestly occur to me.
Who in your life offers a different perspective on the world or work than yourself? How can you lean into conversations with those person(s) to further reimagine your future? What lessons can you learn from expanding your network to include others with notable differences in how they view the world?
Give & You Shall Receive
It’s no secret I believe in the importance of connection. I founded my business on it. But I also believe that more often than not, we learn more about ourselves through service to others. In late 2020, Florida Nonprofit Alliance published their COVID-impact report on the statewide sector. One of the prominent findings was that volunteers had stopped engaging as significantly as they had in previous years. With the value of volunteerism being the engine of social programs, it’s hard to quantify how much volunteers really mean to philanthropy. Current monetary value of a volunteer hour is $27.20 – up from 7% from the previous year and consistently increasing over the last decade.
What are those opportunities you’ve always wanted to learn more about but previously didn’t? How can you create authentic & meaningful activities focused around serving others? In what ways, would service to others enhance your leadership abilities?
Wherever the start of this year places you and wherever the road of 2021 may lead, I wish you continued connection, humanity, grace, and levity through it all. On behalf of the entire Connect For More team, we look forward to connecting with you soon!
Are you a nonprofit looking to reimagine your engagement with volunteers in the virtual space? Are you wanting to volunteer but not sure how & where to start? Are you a company seeking to empower your employees through service that is both accessible & meaningful?
If you answered yes to any of these, plan to join us for our first virtual workshop of the year: Reimagining Volunteerism in the New Year on January 28th (hyperlink to registration page). We’ll be featuring experts in philanthropy & volunteerism to share how they’ve adapted their engagement strategies along with what they recommend next.
Questioning if you’re a “true” leader or even want to be? Brené Brown defines a leader as ‘anyone who takes responsibility for finding the potential in people and processes, and who has the courage to develop that potential’. Contact us today at email@example.com to schedule a FREE 30-minute consultation to learn more about how we can help you become a more courageous & authentic leader through coaching, self-care and leadership development.
Want to learn more about coronavirus impact on the Florida nonprofit sector? View the full FNA report which details decreased fundraising activity, less engaged volunteers and greater uncertain about financial sustainability.
Are you looking for a dynamic and engaging speaker for your virtual conference? Book Liz today by contacting her amazing team member at firstname.lastname@example.org. Keynote topics include: Courageous Leadership, Owning Your Entrepreneur, Somehow I Manage, & Shame(less): Surviving Self-Judgement & Maximizing Self-Care.
About the Author: Liz Wooten-Reschke is President/CEO of Connect For More. She engages leaders and empowers philanthropists by sharing resources necessary to help them accomplish their mission. Liz provides executive coaching, strategic facilitations and customized solutions for all sector leaders, philanthropists, consultants and rising stars interested in making a difference in their communities. She is a Certified Dare to Lead™ Facilitator, BoardSource Certified Governance Trainer and a professional member of the National Speakers Association. Liz is also a proud member of the University of South Florida Alumni Association Board, a fourth generation Floridian and Key West Conch. She lives in Tampa, Florida with her husband, four children, two dogs, and one cat. For more information about Liz or her work, please visit her company website, follow her on Twitter, or visit her Amazon author page.
Let me first be clear… this is not a blog about how to survive a pandemic, battle social injustice or tolerate an ugly presidential election. I am not an expert at ANY of those things. I have struggled with each of those, like many of you reading this.
This IS a post about embracing your humanity in all its messy forms something that I have come to be well-worn in the last 3 decades of my life.
Like many of you I have felt beyond fatigued with the majority this year has had to offer.
In a rare moment of lucidity amid e-learning with two elementary school kids, trying to scale our consulting work and preparing for a second marriage, I wanted to share my thoughts in the hopes that:
- You realize you are not alone in your struggles
- Give you some semblance of hope for the future.
Like many of you, I have begun to hate the word “pivot” – and I certainly don’t want to hear any more about the “new normal.” Honestly, I feel like I’ve pivoted so much that I’m dizzy and NONE of this feels normal. My inner dialogue daily (sometimes hourly) sounds like the Garmin of yore (by yore I mean early 90s): “Recalculating.” Perhaps you can relate.
So when is it over? Where do we find hope? What can we do? Simply put: we don’t know (yet), I’m not quite sure (most days), and change our attitude (easier said then done).
The worst may not be over.
I’ll apologize for this sentiment in advance because I don’t want to hear it, either, much less say it. But we just don’t know what the future holds. In truth, we never have – we just made up a narrative that allowed us to make us think we did.
In fact, there’s research that supports this. This theory – called the Stockdale Paradox – says that those avoid confronting the most brutal facts of your current reality often don’t survive. In other words, one cannot simply survive on optimism or faith alone. We have to acknowledge that this is hard – otherwise, known as Embracing the Suck.
What realities have you been avoiding? How might your feelings & fears be magnified by doing so? What is one small change you could make to acknowledge the difficulty of the presence?
We can do the hard things.
I have a colleague and friend who said to me at the beginning of the school year that for e-learning they could do anything for 180 days (i.e. they could e-learn with their children for the entire school year if they had to). It became my mantra for surviving those tough “teacher” days with those “awful” students – i.e. my own children.
A few months in, this parent sent their children back to school. Does that mean they failed? Absolutely not. Does that mean I’m a better parent for sticking it out? Absolutely not. We both had to make hard decisions and do hard things. Whether or not you’re a parent, you’ve probably done the same this year.
What things were you able to do, see or accomplish this year that felt difficult? Looking back on these things, what do perceive about your resilience and courage? How might your future leadership be impacted by acknowledging these hardships?
Simple joys less judgement.
I’m not going to judge you if you watched Tiger King this year. I hope you won’t judge me for watching all the old-timey crime series I can find or Disney cartoons when the kids are asleep. So many of us were looking for these simple joys this year – something, ANYTHING that would take us away from this current reality; if only for 30 minutes at a time.
That doesn’t make us trashy or “less than” because we enjoy(ed) watching shows that helped us forget about life for awhile. It simply means we were exercising our right to utilize coping mechanisms to get through the shock and difficulties this year brought us.
What were the simple joys that helped you cope with the stresses and anxieties of 2020? What of those do you want to continue in the New Year?
We rise, we fall, we survive… together.
We don’t need an election or social inequities to tear us apart. As things get more difficult, we’re genetically more likely to move into judgment and only surrounding ourselves with others who look, think, and feel like us. While we are hardwired for connection, we ALSO are hardwired in times of some crises to runway (read: fight/flight).
But we’re also wired for connection. We even prefer suffering together rather than suffering alone. Whatever we’re doing we are better together – even if we don’t feel fit for human consumption. Yes, solitude can be a good thing, but loneliness can be deadly.
What opportunities for connection have you newly begun in 2020? When do you find you most need connection – or solitude? Think of a time you relied on another person to help – what fears or feelings did you have to face to do so?
I’ve been running my small business for the last 11 ½ years. Somehow – by luck, hard work, determination, amazing support or a magic combination of all of the above – I’ve managed multiple clients and their projects, my own financials and payroll, marketed myself and our services through blogs, books, trainings… all while raising a family, caregiving for my recently deceased mother, surviving a high-conflict divorce, maintaining a social and professional life, and somewhere along the way keeping my sanity.Read More “Dear Nonprofits: Let’s Own Our Entrepreneur”
At Connect For More, we’re extremely proud of our team members – seasoned and new. Each of them brings a wealth of professional expertise and personal perspective to our work stretching from fundraising, human resources, public relations, governance, program evaluation & strategic planning.Read More “Virtual Connections – Tools & Tricks from the Connect For More Team”
A little-known fact for most not within my family circle, I am quite the history nerd. I find history almost as fascinating as I do people. In fact, for me, history is often where I believe people often demonstrate their true selves – in hindsight that’s much easier to assess of course.
Connect For More is proud to be growing an internship partnership with the University of South Florida. This continues to be an important mission moment for us – continuing to connect rising leaders with the needs, passions, and purpose of the nonprofit business sector. What follows below is one intern’s unique perspective on their CFM team experience during the spring of 2020. Unlike other internship experiences, the highlighted professional below was part of our team for more than one semester. If you’d like to read more about her, please read her first CFM blog post here. Her internship was graciously supported by Allegany Franciscan Ministries in partnership with Wimauma Community Development Corporation.
As my internship with Connect For More, and more directly Wimauma Community Development Corporation comes to a close I cannot help but feel grateful for such a meaningful experience. I was able to not only to conduct research but witness citizen participation in action, combine my interest to complete a final project of my choosing and witness emergency collaboration in the midst of a global pandemic. Among those amazing opportunities were also some valuable lessons. The most important of which: adaptability. Read More “Our Intern Connection: A Leadership Experience with Community Connections”
Connect For More is proud to be growing an internship partnership with the University of South Florida. This continues to be an important mission moment for us – continuing to connect rising leaders with the needs, passions, and purpose of the nonprofit business sector. What follows below is one intern’s unique perspective on their CFM team experience during the spring of 2020.
The year of 2020 has been one of the most memorable years of my life, not only because I graduated with my MBA from USF’s Muma’s College of Business; but also the invaluable experiences from my time at Connect For More. I have been truly honored working for CFM and am forever grateful to one of my USF professors for connecting me to this opportunity. Read More “Our Intern Connection: Connecting Rising For-Profit Leaders with Their Missions”
I had the pleasure of speaking with Greta Kishbaugh, from Biz Dynamics Academy. They are a company who features a community of Educators and Practitioners who are actively involved in their communities with the sole purpose of helping entrepreneurs build a successful business. Read More “Leaders and Courage”
I am giving you an update from my home in my pajamas. Showing up for you!
It is the start of week 3 for us of social distancing, 2nd week of homeschooling and the first week of the rest of our lives.
I want you to see me as a human being. Whole, functioning and as best as I can. I imagine a lot of you are feeling the same way during this incredibly different time. Read More “Our New Normal”