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You Are the Best HOPE

The best hope for reducing division and tribalism in our country right now lies in the nonprofit sector.  

You -  the people who are dedicated to the ARTS, to HEALTH, to CHILDREN and to DAILYDIGNITY - hold a  common belief that separation from one another is an illusion - we are all connected.  

Identity politics and economic class separation delivers tribalism.  We have our tribes and our common enemies.  How many people do you know well who voted for “the other side” in 2016?  The rift between tribes is very real right now.  Most of us can say that we have not seen our country more divided in our lifetimes.

But people working in nonprofit causes hold two seemingly contradictory beliefs in the same hand:
- “nobody’s perfect,” we all have challenges, and

- “we’re all perfect,”  beautiful sparkling crystals inside a rough exterior. 

And these beliefs grow stronger through action.   As behavior change precedes changes in attitude, behavior patterns build and fortify attitudes and beliefs. 

Whether you’re a volunteer, a long term professional, or just starting out –

Keep doing what you do and re-commit to it at a human-to-human level. 


John Lennon sang “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.”  

And of course what’s true for life is true for the life of an organization in spite of our wish that goals and structure and execution make it different.  What happens to the big ideas, the big goals?

The bestselling book The 4 Disciplines of Execution teaches that the “whirlwind” (otherwise known as the real-work or the day-job) is the enemy of big ideas and new activities. 

What percentage of your energy is consumed by the daily momentum, the stuff coming at you from outside, the urgent but not always important? 
Maybe 95%? 

Failing to attend to urgent things bites you quickly, not attending to important things – the big goals – has a slower corrosive impact. 
When urgency and importance clash, urgency wins every time.

We spent some time reviewing the 4 disciplines of execution in an Executive Roundtable this year and one point became quickly apparent to the group: 
Slowing down or pausing the whirlwind isn’t possible – or desirable. 
Good things and important things happen in the whirlwind, it’s the life force of the organization.  And like a river, it flows even when you’re not watching it!

But we need to understand and critically observe the whirlwind in order to know what’s actually happening – then we can become the expert in seeing the difference between urgent and important, and giving time to the important.

The goal is 20%:  spend 20% of your time, consciously and consistently, on the important-not-urgent bigger goals and you will make them happen.
Leaders know the difference between urgent and important, and pay attention to both.  Watch the whirlwind from both inside it and outside it and carefully cultivate the 20%.