Archive for January 2020

The impact of retreats

January 28, 2020

Every January, our nonprofit organization has a half-day “retreat.” We invite board and staff members to attend, and we choose a place that is relaxing, with comfortable furniture, windows, natural light, and green spaces.

During the retreat, we get to know each other. Some board and staff members have never met each other before, so we share a little bit about ourselves.

The retreat is a time to reflect on whether the organization meets our needs, whether we are good fit for the organization, and how we can help the organization grow. We talk about what we accomplished in the past year, what our goals are for the current year, and what improvements we can make.

The past three retreats have been vital and energizing for our nonprofit, and I want to share part of our journey with you.

Fine-tuning our plan for the future. Three years ago, we wanted to strengthen and reinvigorate our organization. We began by revising and simplifying our Strategic Plan, which guided us through some tough times. We identified the goals that are important to us and let go of goals that didn’t fit with our vision.

Recognizing our values. Last year, our goal was to identify and celebrate our shared core values. From a list of over 100 values, we chose the values that were important to our organization, as well as the values that resonated with us personally. Over the months, we further refined our five core values and drafted values statements that reflect our beliefs.

Making us accountable. This year, we turned our attention back to our Strategic Plan. We wanted to know how we can measure our successes and determine areas of improvement. In small groups, we selected 2-3 objectives that are SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-based) for each of our strategic goals. As a group, we discussed the objectives and added them to the Strategic Plan.

Each of the past three retreats has strengthened our purpose and reaffirmed that we are in the place where we belong.

Our nonprofit organization is Samaritan Counseling Center Hawaii.

Does your organization host annual retreats? If you have attended a retreat, have you learned anything surprising or unexpected about the organization – or about yourself? What had the biggest impact on you?

“Rebel Talent” by Francesca Gino

January 21, 2020

“It’s not rebels that make trouble, but trouble that makes rebels.” I love this opening quote by Ruth Messinger in the book “Rebel Talent: Why It Pays to Break the Rules at Work and in Life” (2018).

Researcher, consultant, and Harvard Business School professor Francesca Gino, discusses successful rebels and how we can encourage rebel talent. The key idea is that rebels are engaged, and engaged people are motivated to perform better.

The book begins with two very different, wildly successful leaders: one an Italian chef, Massimo Bottura, who went against tradition; and one a military general, Napoleon Bonaparte, who broke conventional battle strategy. Gino goes on to mention that it’s a common perception that only people with status can choose not to conform, because they don’t fear negative consequences. Through anecdotes, research, and stories, Gino discusses the qualities of rebel talent and what we can do to encourage rebel talent in ourselves and organizations.

According to Gino, there are 5 qualities of rebel talent:

1) Novelty. Novelty compels us to engage with the unfamiliar. It is even more important than stability in jobs and personal relationships!

2) Curiosity. When we ask questions, our relationships grow stronger. Curiosity makes us more likely to view a tough problem as an interesting challenge.

3) Perspective. “When we frame work around learning new goals – such as developing our competence, acquiring new skills, and mastering new situations – we perform better than if we frame work around performance goals, such as hitting target results.” Beware: decision-makers who feel a high level of expertise or power tend to be unwilling to listen to important negative information.

4) Diversity. Choose to rebel against low expectations. Focus on opportunities, rather than potential problems. “Greater diversity produces better outcomes exactly because it is harder to work among a mix of perspectives.” Beware that stereotypes can limit women – the same traits are praised in men but penalized in women.

5) Authenticity. Being vulnerable builds trust, and “sharing personal information is key to developing and maintaining strong relationships.” We find it hard to relate to people who are highly competent, but we tend to warm to people who are flawed. Similarly, we tend to learn more from failures than successes.

I was astounded by game developer Valve.org, which has a flat, boss-free hierarchy in which employees choose what projects to work on, and can start a project if they convince enough people to make a team.

Gino offers 2 mindset-altering tips to encourage our own rebel talent: encourage curiosity by asking questions and saying, “I don’t know” and encourage innovation by asking, “What could we do?” instead of “What should we do?”

How would you rate enthusiasm and motivation at your workplace? Does your company hire for and encourage rebel talent? How important is creativity and innovation in your life?

Highlights of Better Hawaii 2019

January 14, 2020

I hope that 2019 was an amazing year for you.

For me, it was a year of milestones– a 30th high school reunion and a 30th anniversary for the nonprofit where I work, and a 13th birthday for my son. I made it a priority to look for the good things in every day, say “yes” to more invitations and events, and step out of my comfort zone to meet new people.

As we surge into 2020, I’d like to share five of my favorite Better Hawaii posts in 2019.

* Spending more time in the future (January 1). Today, there seems to be a strong emphasis on living in the present, on savoring each moment. We can add meaning to our days by focusing on good things that happened, accomplishments, and kindnesses. But we also need to balance living in the present with spending time in the future.

* Kindness starts with one (February 12). We can become happier in many different ways, from encouraging empathy and nurturing friendships to fostering gratitude and cultivating a sense of awe. But one of the simplest ways to become happier and spread happiness is to be kind. Being kind makes us happy, and being happy makes us kind.

* Saying yes to more (June 25). If you’ve been reading Better Hawaii, you may remember that last year, I accepted a new position at my organization… For anyone who feels like they have to “fake it until you make it,” I want to share some of the changes I chose to make after that first “yes” – and what happens when you start saying “yes” to other things.

* Creativity and self-care (July 30). One of the ways that I relax and release stress is through art and spending time at a ceramics studio. So I was really excited to attend the breakout session on “Culture and Creative Care.” Each of the panelists shared their personal stories of trauma, anxiety, suicidal ideation, and depression, and how creative practices aid in their recovery.

* Selecting legislators like jurors (October 15). What if we created a few at-large legislative positions, from a “legislative pool” of full-time residents who are registered voters, with no criminal records? How would these at-large legislators affect the law-making and budgeting process – and the way we view our elected officials?

Which blogs and bloggers do you follow? What are you passionate about? And what are you looking forward to this year?

Celebrating 10 years of Better Hawaii

January 7, 2020

Better Hawaii is written for you.

And because of you, Better Hawaii celebrated 10 years of ideas, reflections, and commentary about making Hawaii and ourselves a little better.

In Better Hawaii, I focused more on personal wellness and education. I decided to make a few changes, like ending the monthly book reviews, because they started to feel less enjoyable and more of an obligation. And I continue to be committed to writing with optimism, respect, and a focus on solutions.

Since starting Better Hawaii in 2010, there are three values that have helped me keep blogging.

Commitment. Set a reasonable, achievable goal, and stick with it. I know you’re busy and your inbox is full, so I write one post a week, and try to keep it short – which often takes me longer to write than a longer piece.

Courage. Share your opinions confidently, and acknowledge that most people have good intentions, even when they disagree with your point of view.

Courtesy. Be positive and respectful in all of your communications, both online and in person. And be considerate of your time, keeping posts short and easy to read.

Blogger Paul Jarvis got it exactly right in his post, “I’d rather be a blogger” – “Content on the internet currently is designed for scale, for sharing, for the masses. This runs counter to blogging, which is for a specific niche, a specific group, a specific interest a few people might have.”

I don’t write Better Hawaii to grow the number of followers or gain the most “likes.” I write because I want to offer something optimistic and thoughtful in your day. If just one person makes a positive change in their life, it’s worth it.

Thank you for your encouragement, your comments, and being open to different points of view.