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When there is no precedent...

...the stress of making decisions is greater than ever. But whether you’re a nonprofit leader, board member, business owner, manager, religious leader or, most importantly, leading your family, making decisions is EXACTLY what’s required of us right now.

Responding Well, Self-Care and Being Our Best Selves

Uncertainty breeds fear and doubt. And that’s normal. But we must act. We must lead. We must summon courage. And we must connect. This is how we get through this and get through it well. It’s called “leadership.”


You’re right, we don’t control the circumstances, but we DO control our response. And crises force us to make decisions we should have made earlier. So how do we respond as leaders?
Follow the wisdom of Admiral James Stockdale (remember him from Ross Perot’s campaign?) based on his 7 years, 5 months and 4 days as a POW:

"You must never confuse faith that you will prevail in the end — which you can never afford to lose — with the discipline to confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be."

Key “don’ts”:

  1. Don’t stick our head in the sand - Denial is a river in Egypt, not a business strategy.
  2. Don’t wring our hands - The sky is NOT falling.
  3. Don’t play not to lose - That’s a race to the bottom. You, your people and mission deserve better than that.
  4. Don’t assume the worst.
  5. Don’t give up hope.

How to Respond Well:

  1. Face facts - We are in the midst of a global pandemic and getting hit with the resulting economic impact.
  2. Schedule (everything, but especially this) time to think and plan.
  3. Have an abundance mindset - limiting beliefs guarantee loss, failure, despair. Assume donors want to help.
  4. Remember - You have a 100% track record of surviving your most difficult days (thanks to Michael Hyatt for this reminder).
  5. Do a down and dirty assessment -
    1. Be super honest about our vulnerabilities - internal and external, from customer accessibility to
      cash flow projections to ability to work remote to possible layoffs to public perception
    2. Discover the truth - which donors /clients / customers are driving the bulk of our revenue /
      funding. This is where to focus!
    3. Explore our opportunities - think outside the box, get creative. Give donors the opportunity to partner with you to make a difference like never before.
  6. Focus on donors / clients / customers - They’re a priority. We are committed to serving them. This is how we’re going to help them.
  7. All you need is a good (written) plan. As Seth Godin says - ship it! Don’t let perfection be the enemy of progress.
  8. Communicate the plan clearly and “Start with Why” (see Simon Sinek)
  9. Do it scared.

SELF-CARE - OR Step One to Caring for Others

  1. Breathe - Mindful and intentional breathing, meditation and yoga have huge ROI.
  2. Sleep - We may need a little more than normal and that’s okay
  3. Drink. Water (we own a liquor store - I had to say it!)
  4. Limit inputs - Select a couple of reliable sources (FB feeds do not qualify). Schedule 2 times, 30 minutes each, a day to check the news and social media. Most of it is regurgitated.
  5. Stay connected - Schedule (there’s that concept again) a zoom happy hour with your tribe. Call your mother! Wave at your neighbors.

No one says it better than Brene Brown:

“We can be our worst selves when we’re afraid, or our very best, bravest selves. In the context of fear and vulnerability, there is often very little in between because when we are uncertain and afraid our default is self-protection. We don't have to be scary when we're scared. Let’s choose awkward, brave, and kind. And let’s choose each other.”

…and the greatest of these is love. May you stay safe, strong, caring and careful.

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