Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Evergreen Leaders Drill Down 5

I'm still trying to drill deep enough to find simple words to describe what EGL is trying to achieve. Every business and nonprofit exists to make life better for somebody. Whose lives is EGL trying to make better? What will happen when lives are been touched by EGL?

I'm looking for a way to describe EGL's mission so that excitement flows like an artesian well for all connected with EGL.

Here's another version:

EGL helps
• companies (nonprofit and for profit) that employ service people for $12 an hour or less
• to be great workplaces and to transform the lives of service recipients
• at a cost comparable to national firms providing management seminars to small businesses and nonprofits.

Now I think I am really close to pay dirt.

Talents and laughter

Among Rick Reha's talents is eclectic reading--science fiction, theology, art history, music instrument making publications, and much more.

Talent, according to the Gallup Organization research, is "a recurring pattern of thought, feeling or behavior that can be productively applied."

Here's how Rick recently applied his talent for reading. He recently read Holy Humor by Cal Samra. He passed the book along to Jim Fitz.

Jim, when he's not traveling as part of his peace-making ministry stays three night's a week with Jim and Donna Harnish, Plow Creek's most senior members. He brought ''Holy Humor'' with him to Harnishes'. He leaves the book there and each evening he stays with the Harnishes he reads to Jim.

Fitz has a talent for connecting with people. "It's more fun reading a humor book with someone. When I read the book to Jim he often has funny stories to tell," he says.

Getting old gracefully is not for the faint of heart. Donna had a stroke seven or eight years ago and has not been able to speak or walk since. Jim and others at Plow Creek have faithfully cared for her since her stroke. Now Jim H.'s health has deteriorated to the point where he can no longer drive and he mostly uses a wheelchair to get around their apartment.

Still he's a great conversationalist. He enjoys discussing the politics of hope for the poor, telling stories, and laughing at the occasional absurdity of life.

When I'm old and can't get out and about I'm looking forward to people sharing talents, moments of absurdity, and laughter with me.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

A better way than "guilty victim"

Even though pastors and leaders have power they sometimes feel powerless. Watch out when leaders feel powerless because they tend to notch up the power of their actions to overcome their feelings of powerlessness and people get hurt.

But there's a better way to deal with feelings of powerlessness.

Take me. On Saturday I was part of an all day retreat of the communal group I belong to--Plow Creek Fellowship. Late in the day I said something and another person disagreed with me. Of course, I thought my idea was great and would benefit the group. That's what leaders tend to think about their thinking (:lol:).

It wasn't the time or the place for us to work out the disagreement. Later I found myself still fretting about the exchange. "No matter what I say," I thought, "he's going to disagree with me."

Even as I thought that I knew it made no sense. After all, earlier in the day I had said something and the same person had strongly agreed with me.

When I start making mental blanket negative statements about another person I know it's usually a carry over from another experience, often a childhood experience.

On Sunday morning in my quiet time I said, "Okay, Lord, where did this idea that no matter what I say I'm going to be opposed come from"

I immediately thought of an incident with my younger sister. We were out playing or working and I did something that upset her. I don't remember what it was but I remember her response. "I'm going to call the sheriff on you," she screamed, "because you are the guilty victim."

Ah yes, I thought, my little sister was feeling powerless and she wanted to get the sheriff on her side to to overpower me.

Since I've been a pastor and leader for most of my adult life I've often had people "yell" at me because I have so much power and they feel they have so little that they need to "yell" to be heard.

Then I end up feeling like the "guilty victim." I feel guilty because the person was hurt or frightened by my leadership. When I have wronged a person in my pastoral role, it actually makes it easier because I can apologize and take responsibility.

But I feel like a guilty victim when I offer my best as a leader and someone feels threatened and in fear of being overpowered "yells" at me and looks for a "sheriff" to overpower me.

Okay, Jesus, you must have a better way of seeing the situation with my sister and similar situations.

Immediately I sensed Jesus says, "Richard, you are an innocent equal and you should lay down your life for others."

That's given me something to ponder for several days.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Evergreen Leaders Drill Down 4

Again using Caver's approach for nonprofit boards, here's an end statement for Evergreen Leaders:

EGL helps
• nonprofits employing direct service professionals for under $12 an hour
• to be great workplaces and to transform the lives of service recipients
• at a cost comparable to national firms providing management seminars to nonprofits.

I'm still contemplating the third bullet. It's an attempt to answer the question, "At what cost will EGL provide the services?" It's easy to compare the cost of our workshops to companies like CareerTrack and Skillpath but it's not so easy to compare board training and consulting, two other services EGL provides to nonprofits. I'll have to do more research.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Evergreen Leaders drill down 3

I continue to ponder Evergreen Leaders function and form--thanks for raising the issue, Tutuk. Here's another drill down:

'EGL gives

• nonprofit organizations that employ direct service professionals for under $10 an hour
• the tools to be a great workplace and to transform the lives of service recipients
• at a cost comparable to national firms that provide management seminars to small businesses and nonprofits.''

Thanks to John Carver who says nonprofit boards ought to set expectations for success by defining the purpose of the organizations in three areas:
• results
• for which recipients
• at what worth.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Evergreen Leaders drill down 2

Since yesterday I've continued to ponder who is Evergreen Leaders audience and what changes do we offer them. Let's try this one on:

EGL gives nonprofit organizations that employ direct service professionals for under $10 an hour the tools to be a great workplace that transforms the lives of service recipients.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Evergreen Leaders drill down 1

Hmmm. It's been three weeks since I did a post.

I've been thinking about using my blog to drill down deep to the core of Evergreen Leaders. In my December 13 entry I told the story of EGL board member Tutuk Horning holding up a flower at the November EGL board meeting and saying, "I do not know how to describe the form and function of Evergreen Leaders."

Evergreen Leaders has a mission, "To give ordinary people the tools to help their groups thrive." But that's too vague. It doesn't describe the form and the function. Ordinary people is a little too broad. There are a lot of ordinary people in the world. Groups is a little too broad. There are a lot of groups in this world.

So let's drill down and see if we can discover gold--the form and function of Evergreen Leaders.

Let's start drilling by looking at who we are helping--ordinary people. I'm thinking about the people who are the lowest on the rung in businesses and nonprofits.

That's too broad also. Let's talk about the people who are on the lowest rung in nonprofits that provide services to the elderly and people with developmental services.

That's too broad too because that means we are aiming at two fields--the industry that cares for people with developmental disabilities and the eldercare field. In business terms that two industries.

It's so hard for me to choose one of those fields. Since I have the most experience with field that provides services to people with developmental disabilities, it makes most sense that we focus there. Also, we have two board membes who work in that field.

For the time being, let's assume we are going to focus on nonprofits who provide services to adults with developmental disabilities.

The next question: What function will we provide to the developmental disabilities field? What do they need that we can provide?

Okay, let me do a first draft: Our function will be to provide educatioanl tools that will make it possible for front line managers and workers to thrive on the job.

Ok. That's enough for tonight. It's a start. Now I need to get people to make comments and help with this Evergreen Leaders drill down.