Monday, March 27, 2017

Activate Your Brain

We all want to be able to count on our brains working at an excellent capacity every day, every week, and every year – into the future.  But it turns out that in order for that to happen, we need to take good care of our brains – to fully “activate” them.  This is the topic of Scott Halford’s book, Activate Your Brain, which is based on extensive secondary research. 

Here are my key takeaways on how to nurture our brains so they have the stamina we want:

*Physical Exercise: “Exercise is the single best thing we can do for brain health.  Extra oxygen and renewed blood cells help the brain do its job much better.”  Stanford’s Director of Longevity and Aging, Laura Carstensen, says “there is nothing known to us that can benefit our brain better than exercise.”  And you thought it was only helpful to help you keep looking good!

*Sleep: Problems from lack of sleep “include a decaying brain, decreased memory and learning ability.” It also affects “the executive function of the brain.”  “When we don’t sleep enough we lose our mental nimbleness.”

*Focus the Brain: Halford contends that “one hour of focused time is equal to about four hours of distracted time.”  We need to stop multi-tasking and consider practices like Mindfulness which help us keep the brain present and focused.

*Set Goals: “The brain is a completion machine.”  If we set clear, specific goals and then put our brain to the task we will maximize performance.  Anyone who reads my blogs knows that I set goals for everything.  Learn more about effective goal setting here.

*Hydrate:  Most of us need to drink more water every day and this helps refresh the brain – which is approximately 75 percent water.

*Brain Food: Here are some tips on good foods to eat for the brain from Halford and other sources (see this link): blueberries, fatty/oily fish (e.g., salmon), almonds, vegetables (especially tomatoes, broccoli, and other dark green veggies), whole grains.   

*Brain Exercise: One of the best ways to exercise the brain is to learn new things.  This should always be a part of our professional development planning.

This is a long blog, but it’s one less book you have to read!  Activate Your Brain so you can have the stamina to make a quality Mission Impact today and throughout your life.   


For more ideas on how you can lead breakthroughs in your organization, follow this blog and check out my web site at www.SheehanNonprofitConsulting.com   You will find free resources you can download, including a Breakthrough Strategy Workbook that you can download at no cost.  You can also check out my book, Mission Impact:  Breakthrough Strategies for Nonprofits, and buy it if you are interested.  And you can follow Sheehan Nonprofit Consulting on Facebook.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Preparing for the Storm

In church one day the Pastor said “Everyone here is either in the midst of a storm or coming out of a storm or heading into a storm.”

I thought “I’m not in any one of those – my life is pretty great right now.”  And that’s when I had my “aha” moment.  What the Pastor was telling us is that even if life is great right now – you will sooner or later be in a “storm.”

We know it is true – challenges and difficulties are just a part of life.  They come along sooner or later in sizes great and small.  And you can apply this at the individual level and the organizational level.

So the question is – especially when we are in the good times – what are we doing to prepare for the “storms” ahead?

As an individual – are we taking preventative care of our health, are we saving money, are we nurturing our relationships, are we investing in our professional development, are we taking care of our spiritual lives?

As an organization – are we investing in our staff, are we nurturing our board and volunteers, are we building reserves, are we spending time with our stakeholders, are we fostering innovation, are we networking and collaborating with like-minded organizations?

If you are in good times right now – and “good times” are relative (the Great Recession was not so long ago) – then now is the time to prepare for the stormy days that surely are ahead.  If we do this then we are going to be better prepared to make a Mission Impact – perhaps at the time when people need us most.


For more ideas on how you can lead breakthroughs in your organization, follow this blog and check out my web site at www.SheehanNonprofitConsulting.com   You will find free resources you can download, including a Breakthrough Strategy Workbook that you can download at no cost.  You can also check out my book, Mission Impact:  Breakthrough Strategies for Nonprofits, and buy it if you are interested.  And you can follow Sheehan Nonprofit Consulting on Facebook.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Your Reservoir of Trust

A problem is going to arise and your leadership will be needed.

And people are going to need to trust you.

Will they?

How deep is your reservoir of trust?

At this moment, you better hope your reservoir is very full – especially if it is a big problem you are facing.  But there is nothing you can do now to add to it.  Building your reservoir of trust takes time.

How do you build up trust between yourself and others?

You can start by being always respectful of others and honest with them. These two things go a long way and they are, unfortunately, in short supply with a lot of people.

Honesty is more than not telling blatant lies.  It is about being open, talking straight, having candor.  Don’t “spin” or speak vaguely so others can make up interpretations of what you mean.  Especially if you have bad news – give it straight without “sugar coating.” 

You want to be someone that others can count on for the truth.

Take care in making ethical decisions.  Let people know that is your intent when you face an ethical dilemma and ask for input.  Make the best decision you can and communicate openly about it.

All of these things can help build your reservoir of trust.  It’s the right thing to do and the smart thing to do.  Someday, you are going to need people to believe that they can count on you.  You can start today by giving them reasons to think that is so.



For more ideas on how you can lead breakthroughs in your organization, follow this blog and check out my web site at www.SheehanNonprofitConsulting.com   You will find free resources you can download, including a Breakthrough Strategy Workbook that you can download at no cost.  You can also check out my book, Mission Impact:  Breakthrough Strategies for Nonprofits, and buy it if you are interested.  And you can follow Sheehan Nonprofit Consulting on Facebook.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

What Change Should You Lead?

If you could change one thing in your organization that would make a REAL difference in the IMPACT you make, what would it be?

What do you have to lose by giving it a try???

Start by sharing your thoughts with a few people you trust to test your idea.  If others agree then get more people on board.  And then – when the timing is right – broaden your movement to more people.

The timing is not always right and sometimes it takes years of persistence to make a big change.  That is the story of Carmen Medina as told in the book she co-authored with Lois Kelly, Rebels at Work.  

Carmen had big ideas of changes she wanted to make at the CIA regarding the way information was shared.  But, especially as a Puerto Rican woman, her ideas were rebuffed.  She persevered over years, though, and made it happen.  She was a leader in creating Intellipedia – an “internal Wikipedia for intelligence agencies to share knowledge.”

How can you be sure your idea is a change you “should” lead?  It is hard to know.  This is why many years ago, renowned theologian Reinhold Neibuhr wrote this famous prayer:

God grant me the Serenity to accept the things that I cannot change
Courage to change things that I can
And Wisdom to know the difference

May you have Serenity, Courage, and Wisdom as you lead change for enhanced Mission Impact.


For more ideas on how you can lead breakthroughs in your organization, follow this blog and check out my web site at www.SheehanNonprofitConsulting.com   You will find free resources you can download, including a Breakthrough Strategy Workbook that you can download at no cost.  You can also check out my book, Mission Impact:  Breakthrough Strategies for Nonprofits, and buy it if you are interested.  And you can follow Sheehan Nonprofit Consulting on Facebook.

Monday, January 30, 2017

The Right Amount of Stress

What!?!  I want NO stress!

And there are a lot of good reasons that you don’t want stress.  Too much stress has been shown to cause a myriad of health problems including hypertension, heart issues, depression, and more.  And at work, too much stress can lead to bad decision making, low quality of work, burn out, strained relations with colleagues, lack of focus, and more.

Yerkes - Dodson Law
But you also don’t want NO stress.  That is, you don’t want “no stress” as long as you’re working.  More than one hundred years ago, Yerkes & Dodson identified the relationship between stress and performance.  With too little stress, we are not challenged to do our best.  With too much stress, the quality of our performance suffers.

The trick is to get yourself into a situation where you have just the right amount of stress – which is called “eustress.”

If you are feeling too much stress then address it as best you can – you are not being as productive as you think you are, even if you are very busy (BUSY does not equal HIGH PERFORMANCE).

Say no to additional assignments as best you can and/or negotiate different deadlines.  Manage expectations of yourself and others.  Don’t fall victim to the tyranny of everything being urgent.  Dial back the stress until you get to that sweet spot.

Too much stress leads to distress.  The right amount leads to high performance and enhanced Mission Impact.

*Also check out "The Mayo Clinic Guide for Stress-Free Living" by Dr. Amit Sood here.


For more ideas on how you can lead breakthroughs in your organization, follow this blog and check out my web site at www.SheehanNonprofitConsulting.com   You will find free resources you can download, including a Breakthrough Strategy Workbook that you can download at no cost.  You can also check out my book, Mission Impact:  Breakthrough Strategies for Nonprofits, and buy it if you are interested.  And you can follow Sheehan Nonprofit Consulting on Facebook.