work life balance

The Happy, Healthy Nonprofit is Coming!

I attended the Alliance for Nonprofit Management conference in Portland, OR at the beginning of October.  It was my first exposure to the organization, and my intentions were to make some new friends and contacts, learn something, and see some of Portland.  I'm happy to report that I was able to attain all of my goals (special shout-out to the incredible food trucks of Portland!). The highlight of the conference for me was a keynote presentation by Beth Kanter, an amazing thought leader and author of the award-winning Networked Nonprofit books.  I have seen Beth speak several times, and she never disappoints. Her stated topic was, “The Nonprofit Work Ethic Reinvented in An Age of Hyper Connectivity: Strategies for Impact Without Burnout," which included a preview of her next book, The Happy, Healthy Nonprofit, which she is writing with social media guru Aliza Sherman.  This power duo is taking on the challenges that nonprofits and the people who love them face regarding organizational culture and personal habits for sustainable impact.

Many nonprofits operate with a "scarcity mindset": everyone feels compelled to work long hours with limited resources and without encouragement or investment in self-care (sound familiar?). This work ethic is not only outdated, it's not sustainable. It leads to burnout and dissatisfaction and turnover and so many other not-great things. But what if things were different? What if nonprofits took a more people-focused approach to how they do their work? What if there was a culture of replenishment and abundance?

As social media has taken hold in the nonprofit sector, the constant need to be "connected" is contributing to the feelings of being overworked and overwhelmed that are so common. While being connected can help nonprofits engage with practically anyone to achieve their goals, there are human limits and costs to connectivity. Beth and Aliza's book promises to address these challenges and set us on a course of renewal that can lead to even more productivity and impact for all.

I'm really looking forward to it! Check out Beth's blog where you can also see the beautiful graphic illustration that was  done at the Alliance conference during her presentation.



Call Your Mother!

You've probably noticed that Mother's Day is coming up this weekend. It is difficult to overlook. I'm all for celebrating moms- I'm a mom, I have a mom, many of my friends are moms-  but I'm not always a fan of the holiday. My heart aches for the people whose mothers are no longer around and for the women who are struggling to become mothers and for the mothers who have lost children, making the day so hard to bear. My own mother is 83 and going strong (knock wood).  When I was growing up in the 70's, she was an emerging feminist, marching in Washington and holding consciousness-raising groups in our living room. She enabled me to view the world with a feminist perspective (she wanted me to go to a women's college, but I drew the line at that) and to embark on my journey merging my personal and professional needs and skills. Although we never called it that, she was a huge proponent of work/life balance. I'm certain it was because she was able to work only until she gave birth to me, though she would have liked to have continued.

I feel grateful to have had my mother guide me along my path all these years, and that I get to continue to share my accomplishments and challenges with her is a true blessing. I'm all too aware that this will not always be possible. So, this Mother's Day, I encourage you to call your mother- whether she is still with you, or just in your memory- and spend some time with her.