I consider myself truly grateful to do the work I do. I’m particularly lucky to get to write these posts and have people read them, respond to them - and sometimes even disagree with them (that’s when it gets really fun!!). Anyway, I typically write them based on experiences I’m having with my coaching and consulting clients - keeping specific details quite confidential of course.
This week I thought I would do something a bit different. I consider myself fortunate to get to work with some extraordinary individuals. They all work for very different nonprofits in terms of mission, size, scale. I also work with a range of individuals at all levels of leadership - managers, directors and yes, a few Executive Directors. I was recently thinking how different yet accomplished they all are and how they all have fantastic and diversified traits.
As a fun exercise, I started to jot down five things I admired most about each one of them and in no time at all, I had an impressive list of leadership traits I believe any one of us would want to cultivate. Naturally traits like commitment, integrity and authenticity came up. Chances are you’ve read or heard about the value of traits like those and other similar ones. I thought it could be more interesting to share some of the less obvious ones. I’ve created some titles for them and shared the Top 5 Below. I can’t guarantee you haven’t thought of these but see which of these might fit you and your style….
Hopefully these got you thinking - please feel free to share any other somewhat less obvious leadership traits we can shoot for.
Batman: I have one rule.
The Joker: Then that's the rule you'll have to break to know the truth.
Batman: Which is?
The Joker: The only sensible way to live in this world is without rules. And tonight, you're gonna break your one rule!
“The Dark Knight” 2008
The above exchange comes to mind because of an experience I’ve recently had participating in a training program called Creating the Impossible or CTI. It’s a virtual program hosted by Michael Neill, who runs multiple virtual and in person coaching programs. Over 90 days, he provides guidance to participants that have chosen a project with the following criteria:
When we started, I jumped in with my usual goal orientation. I was going to find the most impossible project I could! But after a week and a half of flirting - as Michael called it - with various charitable projects, nothing was making me grin, gasp or giggle. But it was the 7th (or 8th or whatever day) and according to the rules, I had to choose.
So I did. I chose to launch a chapter of a national nonprofit I’ve always admired. As was recommended, I posted to social media and told whoever I could to create accountability. Then I did what I’ve always done: I created a plan, strategy and timetable. Lots of google docs, spreadsheets, call lists, etc. I was on track. I was following the rules.
Around the same time, I had also volunteered to launch a meetup group and first event for the Adult Congenital Heart Association (ACHA). I have CHD, had open heart surgery when I was 10, and got a pacemaker two months ago. I’ve always wanted to give back to this community as I feel so grateful (to be alive that is!). I’m 54, have been blessed to lead a wonderful healthy life that even includes running marathons. Things were coming together really well. My cardiologist and friends were eager to help and I even secured a great venue. I loved this project but it didn’t seem like a CTI fit because it was coming together easily, organically and almost effortlessly for me.
Today, I realized something HUGE. My ACHA project is perfect and exactly what I want to do - 90 days and beyond. I actually felt this from the start but it just didn’t seem impossible enough - not according to the rules of the game. I had refused to listen to my own inner wisdom because it would have forced me to challenge and possibly even break the rules of the CTI game. So, that’s exactly what I’m going to do.
I’ll be launching the Fort Myers, FL Adult Congenital Heart Association Group as my CTI project!
This experience was a great example of the fact that truly do have inner guidance and wisdom that helps us towards the right path. The challenge is that so much gets in the way: rules (society’s as well as our own self-imposed), how we want to look, or a lack of confidence in our wisdom. Ultimately here are the choices when it comes to this wisdom and guidance:
But if we’re not all able to do #1 all the time (I’m not there yet know) we can create
4. We can decide To hell with the rules - I’m doing what I love.
Robert Grabel is the President of Nonprofit Now! You can find his posts here and at www.robertgrabel.com
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