“Change the World” or “Bring Impact to One Person”

leverBigCornersLately I have been thinking a lot about the struggle many of us have because we want to “change the world.” For us we keep looking for that really long lever that Archimedes was talking about so that we can move the world. We have tried it all, social media, blogging, webinars, and the like. But what if we stopped and reflected on how change actually occurs?

What if your job isn’t to change the world, but to impact one person? What if the impact of that one person was so deep that their life influenced someone else, and that person influenced someone else, and (well you get the picture).

Too often we go in to an engagement, organization, program thinking we are going to bring about some massive shift, and leave disgruntled because we haven’t seen the outcomes we desired.

What would happen if you stepped back and recognized the impact on one single person? Would you be happy knowing that your influence has made things better for that one person?


Why so cryptic? A hashtag for a title? Ughhhh!

Ok, I feel you, I would probably be saying the same thing, except I really want to get this message out and to make sure that you know that hashtag as it could win you a pretty cool experience.

In my daily work as the Executive Director of SynerVision Leadership Foundation I get to meet some amazing people and regularly come across really awesome material. A few months back in reading a blog, I came across Maddie Grant and then later her co-author, Jamie Notter. Not only are they authors, but this dynamic duo serves as the co-founders of Culture that Works, on top of amazing work that they do as consultants, convention speakers, and general authorities on topics as exciting and varied as leadership, nonprofits, social media, new work, and the like.

Why should you care? Because I want you to join me in learning more about what they have found will occur in our organizations “When Millennials Take Over” (which just happens to be the title of their newest book). They will be appearing on an episode of The Nonprofit Exchange, the weekly nonprofit series that I host, on Tuesday, February 17th. During that episode we will be announcing the winners of a contest that they are co-sponsoring with SynerVision Leadership Foundation (you can read the details here).

Don’t miss out on your opportunity to engage with these wonderful authors and a chance to win an autographed copy of their new book, a hangout with the authors, a free copy of the upcoming magazine issue by SynerVision Leadership Foundation on Millennials in the Nonprofit World, and a 3-month premium membership to the SynerVision website.

So start tweeting – what do you think will happen when millennials take over? Be sure to use the hashtag #WMTOonTNE so that you can win!

The Nonprofit Exchange (4)

Thank you, Dr. King

As a white, suburban-born, 33 year-old whose roots were established in the upper Midwest, my perspective is not in hot demand when it typically comes to race issues. Yet forged by new relationships, new environments, and the blessings of a growing sense of discussion, I have grown in understanding and appreciation for the life and impact of Dr. King.

An African-American History class during my Sophomore year of college introduced me deeply to the realities of the lives of African-Americans throughout the years. As a sports fan, I was drawn to the work of Arthur Ashe in his 3-volume work, A Hard Road to Glory, and became enthralled with the Negro Leagues and its stars. I learned from their stories that “us” is more important than “I”. I learned my country’s history, its blemishes and outright failures to uphold justice.

Through the intervening years, I have been challenged to grow more aware and more engaged. I have been blessed to experience more of the vibrancy of African-American culture through my work in churches, schools, neighborhoods, and organizations. I have been honored to voice the spirituals of the plantation openly in choral arrangements, been blessed to engage the cadence of the pulpit that stems from black preachers of yesteryear, and been privileged to learn from professors, walk with colleagues, and teach students whose skin color would have been a separation only a half-century ago.

I, too, like Dr. King find power in the message of the Minor Prophets of Old Testament scripture. I long for justice to roll down, for eyes to be opened, and for humanity to regard one another with love and respect. But, unlike, Dr. King, I have never had to demonstrate, hold meetings, or protest in order to find my rights. I find relief that we have come so far since his horrific death, but recognize that we still have so far to go.

As a people it is important for us to respect all people. We certainly can disagree with others and still show them honor. We can live different faiths (or none at all) and still embrace our common humanity. We can wave the flags of many nations and still live in peace. If we are to truly honor the legacy of Dr. King, we must both learn and teach.

This morning, my wife and I sat down with our 5 year old to help explain to her that today wasn’t just a day off of school. Much more it was a day by which we can be thankful that courageous leaders in our nation’s history have fought against prejudice based on our outward appearance. We shared with her part of Dr. King’s iconic speech, which is 18 minutes well spent as we remember today.

I am not there yet, but I am on the journey.

Let us continue to be part of the dream…

Your Organization Won’t Change Until These 2 Things Are Embraced

Recently, I had a conversation with an old colleague who was asking me about some strategy and culture issues. The conversation centered on how an organization can find re-birth, re-development, and/or new life.

Through our discussion, I landed on two primary questions that left unanswered hold organizations back from positive change (yes, I know there are probably countless more, but these are easily codified and create a framework that allows you to deal with the others). The two questions almost seem so obvious that we should all know them yet, based on the present reality of many organizations, it either isn’t obvious or the answers are a resounding – NO!

  • Do you know who you are at your core?

This is not what you want to be, this is not what you tell people you are, this is who you are in reality…deep-down inside. The strengths and weaknesses, blessings and potholes, the history, the lost dreams, the past failures and victories, along with the present collection of individuals.

If you don’t know this, you can’t move in a positive direction. You will always continue to relive problems of the past, fight battles that don’t exist, or go in directions that don’t connect to the people within or outside of your organization.

  • Are you really ready to change?

Are you thinking, of course we want to change, we wouldn’t be talking about this unless we were? Many people talk about changing, growing, adapting, like they talk about values – they espouse this…they want to have something happen, but only mentally. The reality is in order to change, you have to deal with discomfort, you have to do something new, something outside your norm. That is often painful.

The reality for many organizations is that living in the status quo, the known, the norm, the pattern, is so much easier. It takes a lot to break out of a pattern, albeit mental or physical. Many times we like the idea of growth, newness, or change, but we are unwilling to do what it takes to get there.

There is hope. Change can occur, it is uncomfortable, it is hard, but it often means growth. Movements like Christianity, ending Slavery, Unionization, Civil Rights, etc. were painful and challenging. Organizations that have redefined themselves like IBM, 3M, Apple, etc. transformed their businesses and changed the way that their customers engaged them – and you can too! Courage, humility, and forgiveness are key ingredients to lead you on that journey!

What Kind of Culture are You Creating?

In Adam Bryant’s book Quick and Nimble, he shares the following excerpt from an interview with Mike Sheehan, CEO of Hill Holliday advertising agency:

“I think that there are two kinds of cultures and then you can subdivide after that…One is based on a foundation of insecurity, fear, and chaos, and one is based on a firm platform where people come to work and they’re worried about the work. They’re not worried about things that surround the work are not important. If leadership doesn’t provide a forum for that kind of stuff, it dies quickly. People forget about it and they just focus on doing their job.”

chaos or clarityThis statement goes to the very core of what is happening in organizations. Organizations that have positive cultures focus on and celebrate “positive deviance”. These organizations hire with their values in mind and assure that those brought into the organization not only can “deal with” the values but are in alignment with these values.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, organizations with an average to subpar organizational culture suffer from shortsighted planning. They bring in people simply to based on their skills, without an eye to culture and person-organization fit. These organizations tend to give space for personal conflict, inevitably giving credence to chaos and dissension as they believe avoidance is the key to seeing problems go away.

Positive organizational cultures don’t simply happen by accident. They are the outflow of leadership and teamwork, cultivated with discipline, built through trustworthy consistency, and demonstrated by personal example. If you are uncomfortable with the leadership being exemplified in your organization look at the pattern being established by those in positions of leadership, it is likely that what they do, celebrate, or promote (implicitly as well as explicitly) is exactly what is seen within your organization.

Don’t believe me, look no further than the mess that is the NFL!

¡Viva la (Co-Working) Revolución!

I will admit it, I have caught the bug. I didn’t get sick, or become an Apple fanatic, or start playing Candy Crush, or any of the other fads that are making the rounds today. I have become a believer in Co-working spaces.

Oh, you don’t know anything about co-working spaces? Check this video out – we will wait for you.

Yep. So that is co-working. Seems like a great fit for a website that is devoted to teamwork, right? As the video points out, these spaces are growing. Why? They are growing because as humans we were meant to be in community. With an estimated 30% of the population moving into some form of independent work (freelance, full-time, side-hustle, affiliate, etc.) situation, the co-working spaces are meeting the needs that we have for interaction, collaboration, and connection.

Beyond the value of community aspect of the co-working space, they have a lot of other advantages. If the competing framework is working from home (which can sometimes lead to isolation), or getting an expensive office space, co-working provides a better alternative for individuals looking for a place that is conducive to work, engage clients, and grow their businesses. The growth of co-working spaces will likely continue over the foreseeable future as continued recognition of the benefits of diversified and remote working flourishes.

We would love to hear from you! Are you a co-worker? Interested in this model? Want to be an investor?

Teamwork enacted: 3 Lessons I learned when I moved into a new team

5 years ago, my wife and I picked up and moved cross-country with a 6 week-old baby. We did so without a job secured on my end, but a stipend and graduate program for her. I left an organizational setting in which I was the senior staff member for the organization, based upon function and time. After bouncing around for a few months with little to nothing showing for myself, I found a home in an amazing organization.

While I had a lot of head knowledge of in regard to teamwork and had been on my share of sports teams over the year, it was this setting that taught me the true value of teamwork and collaboration in an organization.

Without going into great detail, it was on this team that I recognized the true functional blessing of the team. Following are the three primary lessons I learned.

First, a team works when people share a vision, that they are able to have a “say” in.  When people feel like they have a part in the vision they will work hard and try to be valuable to the team (and organization) – its just that easy!

Second, a team works when people share core values that serve to move the team. Contrary to a potential for group-think, when people share a core set of values that undergird the team (and the organization) they are able to work together with a shared foundation.

Third, a team works when the team members bring various talents and strengths to the table. When people bring differing experiences, insights, and functions to a team, it frees people up to live in their strengths rather than try to be all things.

So, what if you find yourself in a team where these three pieces are missing? Start out by asking questions. Find out if the team is willing to take a step back and redefine the purpose, values, and function. If not – RUN!

Things are happening!

We are in the process of growing the impact here at teamworkdoc! Yesterday we went live with our first article in the White Pages section of the site. Today our connect page went live, with other ways to connect to the teamwork family through Twitter and our new Facebook page. 

Come check out the new things that are happening and join the teamwork revolution! 

Teamwork Required: Expanding the Focus

Here at teamworkdoc.com, this has largely been a one-man show. How awkward, right? A website devoted to teamwork being run by a single individual. That is changing. Starting yesterday. Yesterday, the rollout for the change began – less of just me, more of us!

This website is all about how people work – together! The intention is to look at a part of the world that is often overlooked in our “me-centric” society and to shine the light on the strengths, shortcomings, and opportunities for the road ahead.

In order to accomplish this, new articles will be showing up targeting teamwork through the lens of sports, education, parenting, culture, military service, and a host of other avenues.

Again, this is about the “us” being more than the “me”. If you have suggestions or would like to participate as a guest writer, please contact me at todd@teamworkdoc.com.

Stay tuned as things grow!

3 Lessons I learned from packing: An exercise in the oft-overlooked portions of life.

In August of this year, my family will be making a large relocation for the second time in the last half decade. Five years ago, we made a move from the Mid-Michigan region to Richmond, VA (a place that I had never even visited prior to our move) for my wife’s PhD program at Virginia Commonwealth University. This place has become our home, our friends here have become family. Yet, the realities of crunch time have set in and packing has to occur.

I started thinking as I was filling boxes recently that packing brings about an interesting exercise in engaging some of the most overlooked portions of our lives. Packing causes us to do 3 important things.

1)      Remember – Looking through your closet, storage space, or any other location allows you to come across memories that are often hidden from the normal day-to-day activities of life. I know that every time I begin to pack the items I place into boxes carry memories with them. Some of them are joyous, funny, or even painful, but often times it takes something like packing to recall our own story.

2)      Be curious – As a child this was my issue. Every time I was told to clean up my room, it would actually lead me to play with the things that had just been lying around. As an adult, this same curiosity influences how I pack. Whether the item I see is a book I never got around to reading, a piece of technology that was packed away, or even something that had long ago fallen behind my dresser – packing affords me an opportunity to see what things are and how they function even if I don’t ever recall my original decision to purchase them.

3)      Downsize/Evaluate – Yes. This is the least enjoyable part of the lessons learned. Sometimes it takes moving a home, or even packing up after the loss of a family member to let go of the “things” in our lives. I have moved so many times over the past 15 years that I have some things that never make it out of boxes between moves. Do I really still need them? What about things that are of value to me, are they stored or on display? Packing is a great time for evaluating what is important in your life.

Image(funny, but true…)

These are great, but tough lessons that often times can only come from packing. They allow us to reflect, imagine, and evaluate how things are going in our lives!

Any interesting stories of things that you have learned through packing or moving? Any cool discoveries?