This -> I want this – >

I am fascinated by the Olympics and this year is no exception. I wish had more time to watch but when I do, I’m sucked into the stories, accomplishments, beauty and pure mastery of these athletes and Wednesday night was no exception but it was a bit different. I watched pairs free skaters, Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford from Canada and I all could think was … I want this –>

Watching Meagan skate was so inspiring, not just because she’s an amazing Olympic athlete but because of her presence and energy. Go back and watch. She was pure joy, despite a few minor errors.

Her performance was….


And, she enjoyed every minute.

She wasn’t worried about the mistakes. You can tell she worked her butt off to get to where she is at and, rather than become overwhelmed with the pressure … was absolutely present and in that moment. She enjoyed EVERY moment of her time on the ice. As she should! Its the OLYMPICS for g-d sake!! Her smile said it all and was contagious.

I want that. I want to work hard and enjoy the results. In the moment. Without fear of failure. Knowing I am performing to the best of my ability. Having fun. Creating beauty. Celebrating my strength. Owning my expertise. Being contagious to those around me.

Don’t we ALL want that?!

Congratulations Meagan and Eric on your bronze medal. You inspire me!!

Word of the Year …

January at MORA is all about reconciling the last year and planning for the next year.  We reconcile our books, write reviews, plan our workload … you know, the same thing that everyone else does personally and professionally in January.

This year, a few people have declared a ‘Word of the Year’ that they are going to strive for, live by and use as a mantra. Its started with “Slay” and has expanded to …. Productive, Super Bowl Skol, Bigley, Change, Relax, Groovy and… the 2 I added – Yet and Enough.  However, we could put a dozen more words on this list – Believe, Change, Health, Fitness, Peace, Forgiveness, Support, Happiness … you get the idea.

I’m having a hard time deciding on my word.  On one hand, I LOVE enough, especially in 2018.  As in … I’ve had enough. I’m good enough. Is there enough? What is enough?  Thats enough! So many ways to use this word.

On the other hand, considering the changes we are going through at MORA and my learning curve, I thought we should bring in a growth mindset, hence the word – yet.  Can we do it? Not yet.  Are we finished? Not yet.  Putting yet on the end of almost any statement gives hope and the potential for more.  LOVE that too!

So, I decided to do what everyone else does and look back at last year for clues.  At this time last year, I wrote a blog about my goals for 2017. (Work In Progress)

The gist was, I was going to focus on…

  • Listening
  • Being vs Doing
  • Being Present
  • Saying Yes

I was going to do this specifically by…

  1. Giving myself permission to watch stupid (but fun) TV
  2. Putting down my phone to really listen and be with Tom and the kids
  3. Find times to say Yes to the kids (ice cream runs, quick stops at Starbucks, Pho for Kay …)

So, how’d I do?  If I had to grade myself, I’d say…

  1. A – I am TOTALLY caught up on The Middle and Modern Family. Have never watched an episode of Game of Thrones or This Is Us and I’m cool with that.
  2. B – We do eat dinner as a family 6 nights a week and it’s a no phone zone, so that feels good but we were doing that before this blog. Now, its hard to get THEM off their phones and paying attention to us other times of the day. The tables have turned!  Teenagers….
  3. C – I have managed a few date nights with Kay for Thai food and Pho.  Billy and I have had some great weekend trips with his Taekwondo plus he/I went to see Star Wars.  And we splurged on a MacBook Pro for Jimmy for Christmas (it was his only gift and he’s been on it none stop since he got it).  However, every day I miss moments for the little “yes-es”; 15 more minutes before bed time, etc.

Given all this, I think I’ve made my decision. I’m going with Enough. I’m trying, making progress and its good enough.

But then again, maybe it should be YET.  I haven’t seen This Is Us – yet.  I haven’t gotten them to pay attention and put down their phones in the car, before bed, when they wake up – yet.  I haven’t said Yes – yet.

Dang, this is hard.  Weigh in … which is it? The year of “Enough” or the year of “Yet” ?

Know Thyself

A good friend and I were recently reflecting on the last year and they crazy amount of change and learning we both experienced. He (Jim Fellows) has been a key supporter, cheerleader, mentor and sounding board for me through this major career change and he said ... "I just dont get it, you haven't experienced any of the typical loss, grieving or malaise that normally comes with leaving an organization after 26 years. You are either a psychopath or pretty self actualized".

He got me thinking (again).  While its possible that I am a psychopath, and while there is the potential to be both a psychopath and self actualized, I am leaning towards his observation that I am fairly self actualized.  I think thats true, but why and how?

I know that it hasn't always been the case. I struggled with "finding" myself in high school, college and the 1st half of my career; trying new sports, classes, careers and fashions.  In grade school, I wanted to be "That Girl" (Margo Thomas), live in a big city, have a cute boyfriend and an exciting job.  In high school I thought - Fashion Designer, yeah.... that's it (for those of you know that know me well know that this is WAY off track).  In college, I thought ... sports medicine, math professor, art historian ...  In actuality, my grade school vision of myself was pretty darn close for the 1st 10 years of my career. I did live in a big city, had a cute boyfriend and an exciting job.

Unfortunately, I also spent those 1st 10 years trying to figure out who I "should" be.  Should I ... "get promoted", "be a Director", "get married", "have kids", "buy a house" ... on and on.  I really didn't spend any time thinking about what I wanted until... that exciting job in the big city wasn't so exciting any more.  I was in my early 30's and realized ... I don't like shopping, I'm not a consumer and I don't like product.  None of that fit with working at Target.  And, while I had married that cute boyfriend, we were having a hard time having kids (biologically), promotions at work weren't coming as fast as my peers and I didn't feel like I was doing anything well.  I was having a mid life crisis and I wasn't even 35.

I took a huge step back and asked myself...who AM I?!   What do I like, who do I like to spend time with, what give me joy, what frustrates me, what motivate me, what makes me sad, nervous, excited, etc.... I would love to be able to say... it was hard work for a year and I figured it out but the truth is ... that was the start of the journey and I'm still figuring it out.  But, what I DO know and what I HAVE learned is....

~ I LOVE being part of a team - IN a team, not above or below or next to a team. Truly, up to my elbows in team work

~ I like to be prepared - I can't think unless I am organized, have time to think through and get ready for what is coming however...

~ I thrive on surprises - while this sounds like an oxymoron, in reality, being prepared allows me to be aware of and take advantage of surprises

~ I have a strong need to learn new things, always - am easily bored with routine and need that adrenaline that comes with being outside your comfort zone

~ I have an equally strong need for closure - bordering on compulsive, I can't leave anything left undone, ever

~ I need to work out, every day - in large part this is because I have more energy than I can handle and its important to wear myself out before I drive people around me crazy

~ I am enough - once I figured out that I have a unique perspective, skill set and experience set that NO ONE else has, I was freed.  Freed of worrying about if I was good enough, smart enough, polished enough, eloquent enough ... I'm not.  Not at any given single moment in time, but thats ok. I am me.

~ I am not my job or the company I work for - I have loved every job I had, and I adored Target, but not because of the role, title, company or responsibility. I have loved them because of the problems I get to solve, the people I get to work with, the experiences I get to have, the learnings I gain, the failures I create ...

So, no, I didn't really mourn leaving Target. Instead, I celebrated that journey and felt extreme gratitude for the experiences, people and growth I had during my 26 years. AND, I bring all that with me, to all of my experiences now and in the future.  What a blessing!

I think this is an extremely important message to everyone (especially young women) that doesn't feel like they are "enough", Believe me ... you are, it just might not match up to what you have been told you "should" be. I think Tracee Ellis Ross       says it best ...

I wish for you what I wish for myself .... Peace and self actualization in 2018 and beyond!

This I Believe

I wrote this for a leadership offsite in the style and manner of Jay Allison and Dan Gediman’s popular book….

This, or something better, for all involved.

My mantra, my daily walking meditation, my north star, my saving grace, my morning prayer ….

I must say this to myself a hundred times a day. As context, I start each morning with an intentional introspective walk with my dog. By myself, without earbuds or friends and before the sun rises. I use this time to hold the light for people in my life that are going through or have gone through a hard time.  Death of a child, major health challenges, anorexia, divorce, homelessness, job loss, death of a parent, challenges with aging, family estrangement, anxiety, …. The list goes on and on.  I visualize and say this mantra for each and every person. Every day.  It’s my reminder to myself that we can’t know what’s best but we can hope for it, believe in it, trust in it and recognize it when it presents itself.

This believe was born gradually over my life but really solidified in 3 significant moments in time.  These are the moments that I hold up when I need a reminder that everything will work out and that every situation happens for a reason, even if that reason is blind to us in the moment.

When Tom and I were excited and anxious to start a family, we ran into major fertility issues.  Not only was it physically exhausting, it was emotionally and mentally draining. We were one of the 5% where they don’t have a diagnosis or any “reason” for the infertility.  We did everything. I did everything.  I took medicine, shots, changed my diet, changed my routines, changed my activities … Not having answers to our questions, not being in control of my own body and not knowing “why or when” took a huge toll on my psyche.  It wasn’t until I realized that let it all go when I finally realized – do I want to be pregnant or do I want to parent? – that it all fell away.  We gave it one last try (invitro) but filled out our adoption application at the same time.  Jimmy came home 9 months later.

During the height of my “upwardly mobile” portion of my career at Target, my mentor and friend tapped me on the shoulder to come work for her. I was thrilled! She was well respected, and I was being asked to start up a new team that would help set the direction for Target.  I eagerly joined her team and immediately hated it. I hated the work. I hated my job. I was miserable, and I was only 30 days into the job. At Target, you were expected to stay in a job for at least 18 months and I had no idea how I was going to live through that.  About 3 months into my 18 month “sentence”, she came back from a trip to India raving about the team, the potential, the need for leadership and retail expertise.  I literally felt called and was immediately supported by my leader.  We moved to Bangalore 60 days later, sight unseen.  It changed the course of my marriage, my parenting, my career and my life.

In 2015 Target went through major restructuring. They laid off 2,000+ people and as a leader I personally had to deliver 4 different rounds of lay off/restructuring messages. This included being part of the decision-making cycle of who stays/who goes and what new roles would be. I don’t think I slept at all in 2015 and had a constant stomach ache. It sucked to see smart, capable, valuable people (that I had been close friends with) walk out the door on almost a weekly basis. It also caused me to dive deep into – what’s after Target?  I explored my passions, my hobbies, my skills and created a plan for my “next” career. Then, I went after it. 2 years and lots of mileage, coffees, lunches, resume rewrites and interviews I landed at Mount Olivet Rolling Acres. I’m beyond thrilled.

We are currently struggling with our daughter. She’s 14, going through puberty, diagnosed with anxiety and stubborn. She hates asking for help and has a big volatile personality. Plus… she’s a terrible sleeper. Every day I wonder what I’m walking into when I head home.  I adore her. I want to help her. I’m at a total loss for why we are where we are at with her. I have no idea what to do, when to do it, how to do it and worry constantly about her health and wellbeing.

This, or something better, for all involved – is my life raft.  My head knows it’ll get better, but my mom heart wants it fixed now.  I can’t wait until I can add this time in my life as another example of the wisdom and beauty in my mantra.

“I didn’t have time to write a short letter, so I wrote a long one instead.” – Mark Twain

Praying about praying. Thinking about thinking. Meditating on meditating. Writing about writing.

Seems counterproductive or an oxymoron but I’ve been doing a lot of reflecting lately on my writing and thought it might make a good blog (writing about writing). In part, it’s because I have been asked to write a LOT lately.  An opening letter in our annual newsletter for Bellis.  The Presidents Update in the quarterly newsletter for Mount Olivet Rolling Acres.  A blog about international and domestic adoption trends for a friends new adoption website in India. Our family blog (which I will NOT share on this site for fear of grammar, spelling and syntax judgement) This blog….

I do like to write but as a math major it hasn’t always been natural or easy and…getting asked to write a specific article is nerve wracking!

So, its caused me to reflect on my process and progress over the years.

In college, being a good liberal arts student, I had to do a lot of writing. And, also being famous for having a very small vocabulary, I thought that big words and long sentences were impressive and sure fire way to the “A”.  I would struggle, write and rewrite and produce something borderline un-understandable. One day I asked my RA (an English major) “Why is this so hard?! Help me!”  His response was brilliant … “Tell me what you want to say…” I did.  He replied  “Write that.”  Seriously, could it be that easy?  Just write what you want to actually say?  I started doing that and it’s been my secret weapon ever since.

With the start of this website, I was looking for insight, advice and counsel on how to make it meaningful, compelling and unique.  I turned to two dear friends, Jim Fellows and Michael Sunnarborg. They both gave amazing advice.

I follow Jim’s advice every time I write.  He said two important things…

  1. Own your point of view – don’t use general pronouns like “you, they, we…” be specific.  Use “I, me”. Own your thoughts, learnings and insight. After all, we can only speak for ourselves.
  2. Have a trusted and honest friend read your work before you hit Publish –  Jim has been this friend to me. He reads EVERYTHING before I make it public, finds my spelling errors, fixes my grammar and makes sure what I’m writing actually makes sense.

Michael gave different but just as valuable advice.  Be inspired. It’s not about writing on a schedule, or publishing on a regular, calendar basis, it’s about being aware of your surroundings and present enough in the moment to capture them on paper.  Simple but not easy.  How do I get inspired?

An important part of my day is my morning walk, in the weather, with my dog. We go for an hour as the sun rises. Just us. No music. No friends. No kids. No distractions. I use it as my time to prep for the day, think about what’s happening in my life and be aware of my surroundings.  In fact, my best writing happens in my head during those walks. I think about what I want to say, how I want to say it, how to tee it up with quotes, photos, references, etc…  I actually don’t even put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) until I’ve thought about it for 2 walks in a row.

But, the most brilliant insight came from a St John’s math major that I was having a career conversation with last fall. He said “I think math majors get a bad rap. We HAVE to be good writers. We are explaining really complex solutions to hard problems and need to communicate our answers in a simple manner”.  Brilliant! He’s right!! (now, go hire a math major!!)

Finally, keep it short. Make your point and move on. I am learning this lesson in a big way as I need to communicate progress, encouragement, good news, bad news and basic daily updates to over 400 team members in my role at Mount Olivet Rolling Acres.  Our team has limited computer time, busy jobs and hard responsibilities. I need to be short, to the point and clear.  If I can also be encouraging and positive, that’s a bonus.

So, that’s my process and my progress. I’m proud of my writing but it’s not without internal effort and external help.

What’s your process?

A pep talk and a Space Jam – A letter to my team….

I was at the local and national disability services conferences (ARRM and ANCOR) over the last two weeks and was overwhelmed by the work ahead of us in our sector.  We have staffing challenges, legislative changes, Medicaid is under attack, housing is sparse, transportation is lacking, our clients need us more than ever as they age… the space we work in seems endlessly challenging and exhausting.   On top of that, we are inundated by all the bad news in the world; Las Vegas, Houston, Puerto Rico, Charlottesville …  it seems never ending.

But, I was also reminded of how important our work is and how many truly good people are making a difference every day.  Leaders of other organizations shared their issues, their ideas and their passion.  We heard amazing speakers who inspired us to think broadly, creatively and without limits and challenged us to be a part of the solution.  We saw examples of people self-advocating and bringing along their peers.  And, I was struck by some really insightful quotes…

For our employees “we want heart throbs, not heart beats”  and “our clients don’t live in our workplace, we work in their homes”

For our clients “ with people, not for people” and “assist, don’t serve”

And…best of all, I was reminded of Kid President. For those of you who don’t know him, he’s an internet sensation out to spread awesomeness and remind us that we are each amazing but that we also need to get going….  He has Osteogenesis Imperfecta (brittle bone condition) and had 75 bone breaks before he was 9 yrs old.  And, he loves to dance.

Take 5 minutes today to get a pep talk …

And then tell me….

What will be your Space Jam?

YOU are the goodness in the world.  I am grateful for each of you.

Make it an awesome day.

Go Royals!

This week ushered in the 2017-2018 school year and with it came excitement, anxiety and some big changes in schedules. Jimmy started at Hopkins High School (10th grade), Billy started at North Jr High (7th grade) and Kay is now part of the ruling class (9th grade at North).  For the 1st time in 4 years they are all on the same bus at the same time. Hallelujah! They came home from the 1st day excited about their classes and friends. Once again we were reminded why we love Hopkins and why we feel so fortunate to be a part of the community.

As I drove to school the 1st day, I literally got choked up. Welcoming all the students were signs.  Signs in multiple languages. Signs for all genders (male, female and nonconforming). Signs declaring that ALL are welcome here. Image you are a new 7th grader, a new parent, a transfer student…. How amazing would it be for you to be welcomed this way?! Especially given all the uncertainty in the world around immigration, dreamers, Islam, etc… what a welcome sight to know that school will be a safe and inclusive place for everyone.  What is best about this, it’s not just lip service. They mean it. We have been a part of the Hopkins School District for 10 years and they have always worked to reduce bullying and all types of ‘isms’ (racism, sexism, anti-Semitism…)  We aren’t perfect but the intent and effort is there and we are making progress!  I think Principal Becky said it best in her new school year blog …

Our mission statement says it all…

Hopkins Public Schools serves the community by welcoming all learners, honoring culture, and inspiring remarkable growth and achievement.

Our District is a special place and unique in many ways. We are academically focused, but also human-focused. There is no typical Hopkins student, and we value that diversity. We are a blend of faiths, cultures, and backgrounds, forming a district of individuals with rich stories.

You are welcome at Hopkins. You belong in Hopkins.

Some really amazing facts about our school district…

9% have another language other than English as their 1st language with 46 different language groups represented

45% of students are students of color

37% of students are on free or reduced lunch

90% graduation rate

The Washington Post named us “The Best High School that Challenges their Students to Excellence” in 2017

We have Chinese Immersion, International Baccalaureate schools and a really deep STEM program

Our basketball and cross country teams has a legacy of state championships

Our music program is the best in the state

I could go on and on.  Hopkins lives its values.  They are bold and brave and wiling to tackle hard subjects. They love and support all the kids and staff. The embrace growth mindset and are constantly modeling the way in their classes, sports and after school activities. They celebrate successes. They are a beacon of hope.

Imagine the future for the students that are growing and learning in this environment.

I am so grateful to be a part of this community. They give me so much hope for our future….

(Now tell me that this doesn’t choke you up…..)

One month down….

Wow. Thats really all I can say as I think back over the last month in my new role at Mt Olivet Rolling Acres. So much has happened and no 2 days were the same. I have learned a ton and am just beginning to realize how much I really have to learn.  It energizing and exhausting at the same time.

The best way I can describe the time has been interesting* with a building appreciation for how many different hats you have to wear in a  nonprofit leadership role.  It’s really fun and makes for great stories at the dinner table!

A few examples:

~ We have a bear. Yep. A bear.  We have some property that was gifted to us 15+ years ago that we use as a summer cabin experience for our residents and veterans.  Late last week we found bear sign (i.e.: poop) and the garbage torn apart. It happened again the next day.  What to do?  1st call the DNR and then my husband who was an avid bear hunter to figure out a plan of action. Turns out this is a pretty big issue and we have to put protocol in place for food, garbage and bleach the outside of any outdoor trash containers.  Who knew?!  Talk about commuting with nature….

~ Sign your name on the dotted line.  I think I have signed my name over 1,000 times in the last month. Not only for all our licensing, but for each of our homes, and bank accounts for clients.  Turns out, as vulnerable adults they need a co-signer.  Guess who that is?!  Plus, for the auditors, I need to sign each and every receipt that comes through accounts payable on a monthly basis.  Get the coffee and start signing!

~ Behaviors. I’m learning new language around people centered care and behaviors and I LOVE it!  Instead of talking about someone as “X did this”, “Y said that” we speak in behaviors and then try to figure out what could be the cause of the behavior and address that root cause.  So instead you hear “we are having an elevated behavior day”  “we have some behaviors that we need to redirect”.  And, the redirection techniques are really creative; paper shredding, rocking, quiet time, bean bag chairs, etc.  I mean really, who DOESN’T want to just shred paper when you get angry?!  It is a release and it does help.

~ Mandatory Reporting.  Since we are working with vulnerable adults we are all mandatory reporters. This means that we need to notify the county if we think there is any maltreatment of our clients either financial, emotional or physical by our staff, their guardians, outside caregivers, peers…anyone.  Anyone can report at any time and we then need to open an investigation and have our investigation team mobilized.  The bad news, its part of our reality. The good news, our team is SO responsive and moves very quickly to figure out whats going on to keep our clients safe.

~ Incident Reporting. In addition to the above, we need to make sure we have a safe environment for all clients, this means that I get daily incident reports when people bump their elbow, scrape their knee or get into a disagreement with a roommate. The staff describes the incident, the resolution and plans to prevent in the future.  My favorite last week had to do with a long horn plastic cow, roommates and personal space.  Everyone is ok but the way the team described the incident gave me a really strong visualization of what happened given the level of detail and how many times the term “long horn plastic cow” was used.

~ Visitors.  My office truly embraces the open door policy. I have had numerous guardian/parent visits; even a visit from a former MORA president! These have been so great. They want to connect, share what they love about MORA and have an open ear to the suggestions for improvement. MANY of these are long time guardians so they also come with great stories and history of the organization.  It’s a real privilege to be a part of an organization that has meant so much to so many families for such a long time. My favorite story, which has now been related by 3 different sets of parents, is what used to happen when the parents came to “baby sit” so that the caregivers could go out for a dinner together or have a holiday celebration.  Let’s just say … it was a great idea in theory but the actuality of it was challenging.  The saying “when the cats away, the mice will play” comes to mind.

~ Operations.  I had my 1st board meeting last night and it went well! We discussed current challenges (staffing) and reviewed the financials through the end of the year. The team has worked so hard to be transparent, predictable, responsive and proactive and …it’s starting to show in our operations.  Our forecasts are within 1% of actual, the board is confident in our decisions and they really want to help us thrive. This work started LONG before I arrived, I was just lucky enough to hear/share the messages with the board.  I am so proud of our team!

~ Picnics!  ‘Tis the season for summer picnics and our staff and clients love them.  Last week we had a neighborhood picnic at one of our homes, it was really nice to meet all the caregivers and residents along with their families. This week we have a picnic out at our campus location (pray for good weather on Sunday) and next Wednesday is the annual staff/resident softball game/picnic. (Although this year instead of softball it’ll be yard games and fried chicken).  It’s so heartening to see the staff and clients celebrate and have fun together.  Care giving is hard physical work without much daily recognition. These are chances to celebrate the relationships the caregivers have created with the residents.

~ My Peers.  I have an amazing group of peers that lead similar organizations (LivingWell, Hammer, LifeWorks, Opportunity Partners, Fraser, LSS). They have welcomed me with open arms, made time for all my questions, shared their experiences and ideas and are sending me information that will help me onboard more quickly.  Its nice to know that I have a “tribe” that I can turn to as we head into conference season and as/when we see changes with legislation and medicare. They truly have each others backs and I can’t wait to become a valued partner!

Finally, my team. Every day I am impressed with their level of care, attention to detail, knowledge of regulations/licensing, responsiveness to issues,  willingness to try new things with a new leader and basically bring me along their journeys.  Its hard and risky to onboard a new leader and they are doing it with grace, honesty and positivity.

I am humbled.

*not in the Minnesota passive aggressive definition of “interesting”

Launching vs Landing

When you are in job search, the ultimate goal is to “land a job”. But, as I think about that, how dull.  Landing implies that you are “done”.  That you have a set path, are settling in and are stationary.  I am not good at ANY of those!!  I’ve decided to think about it differently and I’m calling it “launching a career”.  Launching implies momentum, going places, stretching yourself and new experiences.  THAT is a much more comfortable place for me.

In that vein, I am officially announcing that I have launched a new career in the disabilities services sector as President of Mt Olivet Rolling Acres. I couldn’t be more humbled, excited or more scared.  It’s been 2 weeks (hence the time gap between blogs), and every day is a mix of emotions; alternating between pinching myself and waiting for the other shoe to drop (either finding something that wasn’t disclosed in the interview process or – and much more likely – they find out I really don’t know what I’m doing:)).

Mt Olivet Rolling Acres (MORA) is a 50 year old disability services organization that has group homes, day programs, an autism summer camp, case management, respite care, crisis care and run the MCCP (a crisis hotline for the 7 metro counties for people with disabilities). We have ~ 500 employees with the vast majority being care givers.  Our offices are in Chanhassen (Hwy 5 & Dell Rd, stop by!). Most of our homes are in Hennepin, Scott and Carver counties (think anything west of 169). The team is extremely caring and talented.  This is their life work and you can tell that it feeds their souls. I have never been in an organization that cares so deeply about people. They know all of our clients by name, and referred to them by 1st name in staff meetings, etc.  They have long and rich histories with the families that we support and MANY of our staff have been with us a number of times, leaving and coming back for the culture of care thats been created.

In the 1st 2 weeks I’ve gotten the chance to have a few remarkable experiences.

  • Sadly I attended a memorial service for a long time resident. Andi had been with MORA for over 30 years and was very sick. In May she went into the hospital and her care givers were concerned she wouldn’t be coming out. She was placed into hospice in her (our) home and the last few weeks of her life was care for deeply and gracefully by our caregivers, her family, the hospice nurses and her roommates.  We held a memorial service for her so that her family, roommates and caregivers could celebrate her life.  Wow. It was an amazing experience. Pastor Don (Don Don to her)  presided and it was all about Andi’s favorite music.  Her roommates, sang and moved.  Her caregivers shared their stories.  Her family thanked her caregivers for making sure she had a happy and joyous life. It was beyond touching to know how important she was to so many people.  The moment that hit home for me was when her brother read the scripture Matthew 25:40 And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Since you have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, you have done it unto me.  If you know me, you know I am not a religious person but I am a spiritual person.  This passage settled into my soul. This is why MORA is here. This is why I am excited to be a part of this organization. To serve.
  • As part of my on boarding, I’ve been touring our homes and day program. I’ve met some of our residents, talked to a few families and am hoping they will become friends.  Jackie loves to bake. Every holiday she bakes a new cake. But, she’s also very shy.  The 2nd time I met her, I showed her the crazy cake that Kay had made for herself for her birthday. Jackie’s eyes perked up and her caregiver asked if I’d send her the picture. I have no doubt they’ll be baking a similar cake soon.  Debby’s sisters and I have been chatting about the recent move of homes for Debby. She’s adjusting well and we’ve been discussing the best way to support her as she’s starting to experience age related issues as well.  Tracy greats EVERYONE that comes to Adult Day Services (ADS) with a big hug.  She was kind enough to have her picture taken with me and her hug made my day, it was a big long strong hug.  I think I might go every day just to get one.
  • We invited the board and new Senior Pastor (Pastor Lose) to celebrate 2 big milestones – hitting 400 referrals for our new case management work and serving 10,000 people through the MCCP crisis line.  Case Management was launching a year ago while MCCP is a 20+ year old program. It was fun to see the team interacting and encouraging each other. The Case Managers were in awe of MCCP’s accomplishments and the credibility they have developed for themselves. And the MCCP team was really proud that our case management work had a perfect audit by the state in their 1st year. The board introduced themselves to our staff and shared why they were passionate about MORA. Our board chair thanked Pam Miller for all our work as interim President and Pastor Lose expressed his excitement to learn more about our great work.

This is just the very beginning and we have a lot to do but, keeping the care of our clients at the center of all our work will be the inspiration and motivation we need as we move forward. I hope the team will be gracious with me as I learn this really complicated space. And, of course, I’m excited to apply my unique skills to make a difference in our operations and financial so that we can serve even more people.



The Job Search and Growth Mindset

You might wonder why I have a photo my son at his Taekwondo tournament as the featured image on a blog about the job search and growth mindset…. Hang with me!

During a particularly intense training session last month, his coach (Mr Lee) talked to the kids about growth mindset and how it impacts how he designs their training in preparation for nationals.  He uses the following framework and it really stuck with me…

Train to Learn – We all need to learn the game that we want to participate in; the rules, the strategy, the norms, the expectations, the equipment, the schedule …

Train to Train – We need to get in shape; building muscle, creating flexibility, developing endurance ….

Train to Compete – We need to know what it feels like to win AND lose; how do our emotions react, our mind, or bodies?  How do we treat ourselves and others when we make mistakes or master a skill? When do we celebrate and when do we double down and work harder?

Train to Win – ONLY after we … know the game, are in shape, have experiences winning AND losing can we apply all of our learnings and really start to win on a consistent basis.

These stages are not linear processes, they require moving back and forth between each stage as you are learning new skills, patterns and facing increasingly challenging competitors. BUT … mastering the previous stage is necessary and essential in order to master the next stage.   You don’t go from train to learn right into a national competition, you need years of train to train and train to compete in order to make it that far.

How does this apply to the job search?!  As I reflect on my search of the last year, there are eery similarities…

Train to Learn – I spent almost a full year learning all I could about the nonprofit space, before I even left Target.  I went to networking events, tracked websites, read job descriptions, researched search firms, met with people that had made the move from corporate to nonprofit, increased my volunteering and found boards that I was passionate about that I could be on to see, 1st hand, what happened behind the scenes in a nonprofit. I wasn’t actively looking for a job, I was learning if I’d be a good fit in this space and trying to understand the rules of the game and the other players.  This time also allowed me to really understand what I was looking for in my career move; what type of organization, role and impact did I want to make? What was my passion? My strengths? My gaps?

Train to Train – Once I realized that we live in an incredibility rich community of innovative nonprofit leadership, I knew there was no way I was going to be able to really perform in this space until I made a commitment to it. I needed to get my game on and … I couldn’t do that while working full time; regardless of how much I loved my team or my company.  I needed to start training, building muscle and put my learning into action.  I left Target and spent the last 9 months going deep on my board work, using my skills in probono projects and networking with key leaders in the space to learn the biggest barriers, challenges and opportunities facing nonprofits in todays world.  I got sore muscles, my brain hurt and I was exhausted at the end of every day but … I also expanded my network, created partnerships and found muscles I never knew I had.  This was also a great time to practice telling my story; what were my career goals, what motivated me, how did I plan on making a difference, what did I want to be sure to learn?

Train to Compete – I’ve had the opportunity to be a part of a number of interview/search processes which is an interesting form of competition. While these didn’t ALL turn into job offers, there were amazing life experiences that taught me … I can compete in this space, I have transferable skills, I have a network of people willing to help me learn/prepare for interviews and, sometimes, not getting the job is a blessing in disguise.  I’ve had good days and bad days/weeks. In fact, in April, I was training to compete and there wasn’t anything to compete for!! I was doing all the hard work and not an interview or open job in sight. That was hard …to keep getting up, everyday, go out and meet new people, learn, tell my story and put myself out there when there wasn’t a single open position that I would be qualified for as a candidate.  There were days I doubted myself and started to look at roles that weren’t my ideal job or even a good fit.  But, I have a great coach and she helped me remember how much I was learning, the incredible people I was meeting and that this was time to stay positive, persevere and do the hard work.

Train to Win – I feel like I’m getting there…there are things I’m realizing that I couldn’t have seen/understood 9 months ago because I didn’t have the life experience/perspective.  Some examples?  The networking I’m building is not just a network to help me find my next role, it’s also the network that will help me onboard, support me as I learn and become my new peer group. These people will be my life line when I start a new role!  While this website is a great tool for helping share my career change goals, it’s also going to be a great on boarding tool when I DO start a new role.  It will give my new organization/team a sneak peek into who I am and (hopefully) help reduce any anxiety about a new leader coming on board. Finally, my coach is not only a great resource for the job search process, but because she’s been on this journey with me for the last year, she’s also going to be a phenomenal resource as I plan my on boarding approach and will help me stay grounded as I become a nonprofit leader.

If you are in transition, how are you approaching your search? Are you training? What are you learning? Are you stuck in one stage? How can you double down and work through it?

I promise, all your training will pay off!