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Winter isn’t bad…its just…Winter

I’ve been thinking for a while that this “economic downturn” is a long-overdue winter in our perpetual (illusion of) summer here in the USA. Eventually the over-picked, under-watered plants need to shut down and regenerate or they will die. This may sound depressing and cold in the sun-starved northern hemisphere, but in fact its a fundamental process that allows life to continue. Plants that are in relative harmony with their surroundings and weren’t already diseased will survive and thrive come spring.

The same is true for us as individuals and for the organizations we lead and are part of. Getting back to our roots, our core, focusing on the basics, and remaining in harmony with our surroundings are essential to surviving winter and preparing for new life in spring.

Late last week, I hosted a table discussion at a well-timed forum about leading in an economic downturn put on by United Way of King County. Jon Fine, the CEO of the United Way here in Puget Sound, suggested some important strategies for nonprofits to weather winter, which I thought could be applied to us as individuals as well. Here is my synopsis of his most useful points:

  • Don’t be in denial about it being winter – plan, prepare and dress warmly!
  • Remember and focus on your core – what do you do well and differently than anyone else?
  • Be transparent and honest. In winter, everything is visible to everyone else. We can more easily see your tracks, and are more attuned to each other because we need each other more.
  • Conserve your energy for what’s really important. Don’t chase or create non-essential projects or new markets right now.
  • Be efficient! Do what you need to do with as little effort and expense as you can, but do it well!
  • Let go of what isn’t working so you can focus on what is working. There’s no shame in letting go!

And finally, don’t forget to be grateful for the many blessings you do have and ENJOY what there is to enjoy about winter!

Warmth and peace to you and those you love.

Planning and inspiration: the Wonder Twins!

So often when we feel overwhelmed we’ll think “what I need is a PLAN.” And we diligently go about setting meetings, making to-do lists and re-arranging our schedules.

This isn’t bad, but it’s helpful to remember that planning alone doesn’t refuel your tank. You can have a great destination and map, but to get you there, you also need to reconnect with a sense of inspiration.

To move you forward, you need the Wonder Twins – planning AND inspiration.

There are a zillion productivity systems and gurus out there in our over-busy culture, so I won’t burden you with my own. But here are some tips to refuel your tank so you can reach that destination:

  • Take five minutes to be thankful. Even for simple things, like the fact that its over 60 degrees, your shirt is clean, and you ate a good lunch. Really let yourself wallow in gratitude!
  • Imagine what it will feel like to reach your destination. What do you feel in your body? How will you celebrate?
  • Focus your attention on someone you love, and think of three things you really appreciate about them. Then tell them.
  • Go for a walk somewhere green and quiet.
  • Think about the last time you felt inspired – what helped? Do it again!

Ps. If you’re a nonprofit leader or volunteer, you may want to come check out a workshop about strategic planning I’m co-facilitating with my talented and lovely colleague Angela Powell on October 9th in Seattle through the the United Way of King County. We’ll be covering the magic of the Wondertwins, as well as the nuts and bolts of a good planning process, and we’d love to have you there!