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Appreciation: A Key To Lasting Retention

Patrick O’Keefe from iFroggy Network writes a terrific guest post today at Problogger titled Enhance and Grow Your Online Community Through Appreciation.

It’s a little long for a blogpost, but here’s the gist:
Don’t get overly immersed in growing your community that you forget to show appreciation for the community members you already have.

This advice works elsewhere, too. Association members, customers, your employees. It’s amazing what showing just a little appreciation can do to thicken the ties in your important relationships.

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At Connection Cafe: Bring Your Staff Into Your Community

Here’s my latest blogpost over at the Connection Cafe

Yesterday, Lacey wrote about how to engage folks who are interested in volunteering for organizations. It’s a great segue into another area that I find lacking in most nonprofit websites: staff and organizational employees. What do they both have in common? Your volunteers and paid staff are part of a diverse community within your organization. However, it’s this diversity in community that is often neglected.

Frequently, staff can get left aside in the community. Why? Is it because they are paid members of the community? Are their roles separate from the community that includes folks like donors, volunteers, Board members? If you’re thinking ‘yes’ to either of these questions, I would argue that these ideas can’t work in today’s world where employee engagement is a true key to strong organizational health. It’s time to bring your staff more fully into your organization’s community.

Here are some ideas that can help you better integrate your own staff into your organization’s community:

Head on over to the cafe to Cafe to read the rest of the blogpost…

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More Things About Me – Texas-Style Edition

Irish blogger and friend, Annette Clancy, went and tagged me last week. I don’t always play infotag because I feel like I tapped so much in my original 100+ things. But it’s been a while since I put that together (way back in 2004 and it’s age shows) so…why don’t we add to it and call it the 2007 Texas-style Collection. Yeehaw!

  1. I’ve never seen a live armadillo in the wild. Seen plenty of dead ones. I’m still hopeful.
  2. I haven’t seen a tarantula, scorpion, or rattlesnake in the wild, either. Friends who live further out in the country tell me they’re around.
  3. Yes, I’m a bit weird for wanting to see crawly creatures. I get by with the lizards and frogs that inhabit our backyard.
  4. After living in Texas, I honestly don’t think I can ever live on the east coast again. There’s just a slower vibe here that agrees with me.
  5. I’ve always wanted a truck and am hoping to buy a black Honda Ridgeline in the next year or so. I might just buy a fishing boat to go with it within the next five years.
  6. I enjoy bowling (even have my own ball) and love the fact that it’s still alive and well here. There are times on the weekends when you have to wait 30 minutes for a lane to open. Great family fun.
  7. I never had eaten a kolache before arriving in Texas. Now, I can’t get enough of them.
  8. And breakfast tacos…now those are tasty eats! There’s nothing quite like eggs, tomatoes, and avocado wrapped in a tortilla first thing in the morning.
  9. Our family has a season pass to Sea World in San Antonio and it’s a pretty fun place to visit with the kids. The dolphin and orca shows are well done, there’s a neat play area that’s even adult friendly, and you can feed the seals and sea lions. Oh and did I mention they have roller coasters?
  10. Places in Texas that I really want to visit: Galveston, Fort Worth and the Cowboy Hall of Fame, and Big Bend National Park.

Now this is where I tend to get a bit shy. I hate openly asking folks for their eight things so here’s what I’m going to do. I know there are probably readers who haven’t commented (or others who haven’t commented in a while). So, here’s my request: post 1 thing that’s new about you this year. It could be something new you’ve learned, a new food you tried, a new place you visited, or anything else you’d like to share. Go ahead…run with it.

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Practicing Small Kindnesses

Think making a huge difference in someone’s life takes a herculean effort or a lot of time? Just ask Scott Hodge who not only rediscovered the power of a buck, but the power of simple generosity.

What I love about his later reflection is how this isn’t only a lesson for him, but for his kids. Scott writes:

This is going to be Elise’s bedtime
story tonight. Why?  Because I want her to be this kind of person. I
want her to understand the value in helping people – even at her own
expense. It’s easy to open a door for someone. It’s easy to help
someone carry something heavy. But it’s not always easy pulling out
the $5 dollar bill.

Think the world’s going to hell in a handbasket? Nah, that’s just overrated, cynical chatter. The chance to experience and return small kindnesses is all around us.

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The Power Of Our Common Bonds

Tammy Lenski wrote yesterday about her most recent experience as a volunteer for the Best Friends Animal Society and their efforts in the Hurricane Katrina area. The temporary sanctuary/triage unit/field hospital/reunification center just north of the Louisiana border in Tylertown, Mississippi has attracted volunteers throughout the country. In a battered place with far from optimal conditions, one might expect to see all kinds of conflict. She noted that none was to be found. In Tammy’s reflection for why this was, she writes:

It’s the power of feeling passionately about why we were there. The power of believing, first and foremost, that our mission was to help these animals, and understanding implicitly that having our own way or convincing someone else that we’re right or the righteousness of feeling tread upon were all less important than keeping these animals alive, helping them heal, and helping them find home again.

And later:

It’s surprisingly easy to set differences aside when we’re focused on what brings us together.

Sometimes it amazes me what petty and minor strife we allow into our relationships. We let the most foolish of things drive wedges between us and our loved ones…even our colleagues at work. We cling to our few competing differences like there’s no tomorrow and forsake the many heartful similarities that bind our hopes and dreams.

None of this is to say that I’m without my own problems on this issue. I have my own family squabbles to contend with. There are always workplace flare-ups. Yet, there’s something in Tammy’s post that has nudged me toward a deeper reflection. I find myself asking why its so much easier to get attached to our differences of opinion rather than the similarities.

Whatever the answers, I honestly believe the power and spirit lies in those common bonds that bring us together.

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On The Passing Of A True Heroine

This past week marked the passing of Rosa Parks, an individual who knew and embodied courage. I’ve been reflecting on what lessons Rosa left for us and how we’ve gotten off-course in our struggle for social and economic justice. I’ve also been considering the work of all who fight for our civil rights and the fact that I’ve given too much of this work to others. Left to the hands of just a few champions, working for true civil rights for all individuals is a fight and a burden. However, if each of us is dedicated to the spirit of equality and love, it ceases to be a struggle. Instead, it becomes a gift that we give to others and ourselves.

We’re nowhere close to approaching this ideal. And the small, but vocally cynical gremlin sitting on my shoulder shouts that it’s just naive, utopian thinking. That gremlin is very persuasive and I’ve believed him for a little too long. I’m realizing that he’s doing his best to keep me safe and comfortable and small like him. But this is all crap to keep me from the difficult and potentially hazardous work of initiating my own efforts to create a soulfully-connected world around me.

So, I’ve sought out spiritual mentors to serve as a counter-balance to my cynicism. Happily, I’ve found inspiration from Frances Moore Lappé. This week, she implores us to take up Rosa’s example and re-embrace our sense of humanity:

So in this historical epoch I believe we must take our cue from Rosa Parks: Our survival depends on not going along, not cooperating with assumptions that violate our deepest sensibilities. And not going along means generating conflict, or at least surfacing it.

The how-to’s of generating and surfacing conflict creatively, I realized, must become just as exalted a skill-set as is creatively resolving conflict. Rosa Parks didn’t on impulse decide one day to say “no.” She’d been training in this art for some time.

At a recent conference hosted by my association, I was blessed to meet Frances Moore Lappé who was the keynote speaker. Her first gift to us was Diet for a Small Planet in 1971…her most recent gift is Democracy’s Edge. To be honest, I had never heard of her up to a couple of months ago and I had no idea of the work she has done in her life. Yet, the experience of listening to her on stage and afterward in a more informal setting was deeply stirring. She has such an authentic and genuine soul; I hope that I am able to meet her again. Of the many things that Frances left with me, perhaps the most significant was the power that each of us has as a singular being to create change in the world. More on this in a later post…

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Remember To Water Your Network

As I get a little more distance from my recent job hunting experience, I plan to write deeply about the tactics, strategies, and emotional management issues needed for success in finding Soulful Work.

One of the best things a professional can do is do is cultivate their network. How many times do we hear that? Sorry, it’s still true. The catch is that a solid network takes time to fully cultivate and requires a farmer’s patience toward his crops. It’s not one of those things where we can just say, "Okay, I’ve planted the seed. Now grow dammit!"

Louise at Blue Sky Resumes has very good advice for how to build a professional network. Rather than begging for a handout (or a job prospect), turn it around. Give first and then seek to receive.

The easiest way to nurture your network is to focus on what you can
give, rather than what you can gain. If you make it your business to
offer help, others will be only too willing to help you in return.

Our networks are personal relationships built on trust, common interests and a patient intention to know the other person. Rosa has connected me to her growing Ho’ohana Community. Wayne and David have sparked my re-interest in LinkedIn as a networking tool (here’s my profile). The beauty of these networks is that they are rich in diverse folks from very different backgrounds, industries, perspectives…you name it.

So, look to cultivate your network not as a quick "what can I get from you?" tactic but as a way to connect deeper with other folks who can add to your life. And actively try to add to their lives. With all the violence and senselessness that surrounds us, we can never have too many caring friends and colleagues.

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Thanks, Scott

Welcome to those visiting from Scott Hodge’s blog. I’ve been blessed to have Scott offer up some really wonderful compliments about me and my writing. Ever since Weebleland, I’ve been impressed by his dedication to his own work and the beauty of taking over his father’s ministry. His post last month on the six month anniversary of his dad’s passing was a stirring and lovely tribute that made me appreciate my own father that much more. Doesn’t he also have the most adorable little girl?

So thanks Scott and someday soon we will have that cup of coffee together.

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There’s A Bit Of The Slacker In All Of Us

The absolute pleasure of being a part of this whole Ho’ohana Community that Rosa Say has put together is discovering like-minded folks from across this great country of the United States. About the same time that I found Rosa’s Talking Story, I started reading Brendon Connelly’s Slacker Manager. I remember my initial impressions well: I figured with a name like that (as well as a masthead with a guy reclining in his office chair while trying to do some work), this was going to be a goofy, farcical take on management. Oh, how wrong I was. Slacker Manager is a thought-provoking, articulate blog on how to thrive in work by focusing on working smarter rather than working harder.

To get the full, robust flavor of Brendon and his management philosophy, download his [email protected] manifesto from ChangeThis. Here’s how he goes on to define the slacker:

We slackers represent the bright side of overachievers. Slackers are as smart, educated, talented and driven as any standard-issue overachiever you’ll find. The core difference is that slackers have the gift of satisficing: we can stop at ‘good enough’ and go home unburdened by what was left undone.

The entire manifesto is brief and has some good ideas on how to be a [email protected] My personal faves are the Four Hour Rule and Mental Health Days. If you do choose to use these techniques in your own work, be very careful about sharing them with colleagues (and particularly your boss…unless you know he or she is a fellow slacker).

Back to the Slacker Manager blog, there are some fascinating finds along the left side which offer further evidence of the kind of colorful character that Brendon is. I encourage you to take a peek at some of his Hot Links like The Art of Napping at Work (an idea that really needs to catch fire in today’s workplace) and NaDa which is one of the simplest product ideas (I really wish I had thought of it first). Then, there are some of his favorite posts. I’m hoping he finds some space to include a recent smackdown series he hosted between Fred Gratzon and Steve Pavlina (check out the March archives for the full series). It was a stroke of genius to see these two guys take on the idea of productivity from very different viewpoints.

Now, seeing that Brendon currently has over 1500 subscribers, I’m hoping that I can get at least a few hundred to make the trek over to visit my blog. While we might pin different names on our concepts of work (his being slacker; mine being soulful), we’re still thinking in similar ways. Perhaps if nothing else he can teach me how to surf.

Also, if you’re not a regular at Brendon’s site, wish him safe travels and warm spirits for his new baby. He’s currently in South Korea this week to pick up Asher Myung Hee. We’re all waiting on pictures of the newest Slacker Baby.

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Guest Blogger Today At Talking Story

I talked about reinvention earlier this week. Well, today’s my day to add more to the conversation at Rosa Say’s Talking Story. The title of my post is Let’s Reinvent Professional Development in Our Organizations. Based on my experience, professional development is treated like a job perk, rather
than as a systemic part of the organization’s greater purpose of
growing its business and its people. In my post, I advocate for a new way of thinking and put out a new term to consider.

So, what are you waiting for? Go and visit Talking Story.

If you’ve never been to Talking Story, take some time to explore Rosa’s blog and discover some wonderful ways to reinvent the relationship between manager and employee. Then do yourself a big favor and buy her book, Managing with Aloha. You’ll not find a more soulful and passionate advocate for artful management out there. Mahalo nui Rosa for your friendship and mentoring.

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