Sunday, January 15, 2017

Pete's Persistence

Most days I go to the campus gym first thing in the morning.  Pete is usually never far behind me.

Pete looks to be in his 80s.  He walks with a very pronounced limp.  It’s not easy for him to get around.  Yet, there he is most every day.  He lifts weights.  He does walking laps in the shallow end of the pool.  None of this is easy for him.

One very cold morning last week it was a dark day with freezing rain.  It was one of those days when anyone who had a choice might just decide to stay in bed, eat popcorn, and watch reruns of NCIS in a warm house.  But not Pete – he was at the gym.

Anytime I think about being a slug and not starting the day at the gym, I think of Pete.  In fact, recently, every time I hit some kind of a roadblock and think about quitting, I think of Pete.  Because Pete knows that persistence is one of the things that separates the good from the great.

Former President Calvin Coolidge said it well:

“Nothing in the world will take the place of Persistence.  Talent will not: nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent.  Genius will not: unrewarded genius is almost a proverb.  Education will not: the world is full of educated derelicts.  Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.  The slogan “Press On” has solved and will always solve the problems of the human race.”  

“Press On” with your 2017 Goals for more of a 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 2, 2017

Set Your 2017 Goals Now!

Happy 2017!

As is my annual tradition, I will start the new year out with a reminder of my advice from an article I wrote in The Washington Post a few years back: “Set Goals, Not Resolutions.”  And also see my full article on The Power of Goals at this link.

If it’s time for you to set those once-a-year resolutions that you know will fade by March, then this article is not for you.

But if you are ready to make a long-term commitment to achieving higher levels of performance and having more satisfaction in life, then consider getting serious about goal-setting:

*Set goals as outcomes – on what you really want, not the activities that may lead toward them.

*Make sure that all your goals are SMRT:  Specific, Measurable, Relevant, Time-Bound

*Use the right “A” in your SMART goal formula.  All goals need to be SMRT.  But to be SMART you need to pick the “A” that is right for your situation. Here are your options:

1.  Attainable Goals, which you have an 80+% chance of accomplishing, are good if failing will have many negative consequences.  Attainable goals are good to build some momentum with easy wins, or to learn more about new environments, or if you are concerned about getting discouraged.

2.  Aggressive Goals, which you have a 35% chance of accomplishing, will improve your performance.  Research shows that the more difficult the goal, the higher the level of performance.*  If you feel like you have a good system and you want to maximize performance of it, then this method will help you do it.

3.  Almost Impossible Stretch Goals, which you have a 1% chance of accomplishing, will require you to design innovative ways of going about accomplishing your goal.  “Working harder” on the same process won’t do it.  You have an opportunity for breakthrough performance with Almost Impossible Stretch Goals.

*Celebrate Noble Failure.  If you are inspired to pursue a goal and you go for it, but you don’t make it all the way, then appreciate the progress you have made and appreciate that you worked hard at something you really cared about.  This mind-set will bring you more long-term success than letting the fear of failure keep you from doing what truly inspires you.

I provide more extensive detail on goal setting in this article, The Power of Goals.  If you use these principles and apply them to your personal and work life then I promise you much higher levels of performance, fulfillment, and satisfaction.   But it only works if you take it on as a true, committed discipline – not a once a year fad.  Good luck with all of your goals!


*A Theory of Goal Setting & Task Performance, by Edwin Locke and Gary Latham



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, December 19, 2016

Process & Impact Milestones

Once you set a goal and you make a plan, then you should set two types of milestones – Process Milestones and Impact Milestones.  I notice that most people do not set milestones and when they do they only set Process Milestones.

Process Milestones are periodic check-in dates in which you look at your Action Plan to see if all of the action steps are being followed.  You can track these in various ways and even use a tool like Microsoft Project if you have a complicated Action Plan with lots of moving parts.

Impact Milestones are periodic check-ins in which you look at the results that your Action Plan is producing to see if you are on track with what you are expecting the plan to produce.  So, it is important to ask yourself – once you set a plan – “what kinds of results should we be seeing x, y, and z weeks/months out if the plan is working as we want it to?”

When you do a Process Milestone check-in and discover that someone has not completed their tasks properly then you need to investigate and put in a fix.  Maybe it was a simple oversight and can be corrected or maybe someone is overwhelmed and you need to reassign duties.  Regardless, you may need to alter your plan slightly to get back on track.  FYI – it is important to schedule these check-ins regularly so your plan does go way off track without realizing it.

However, if you are following your plan just as you had scheduled and you are missing your Impact Milestones – not producing the results you want – THEN you have a problem of a different kind.  When people do not set Impact Measures they are often surprised that everyone followed the plan but – in the end – the results they wanted were not produced.  You should know this much sooner!

What do you do when you miss an Impact Milestone?  You need to investigate carefully.  You made certain assumptions about your plan when you set these milestones.   Are, perhaps, some of your assumptions incorrect?  If so, then maybe you need to call a “timeout” and make a totally new plan.

So often, leaders live in denial after crafting a wonderful plan (mostly their ideas) and it is not working.  Without Impact Milestones, you will not know until it is too late.  If you want to make a Mission Impact then you need Process and Impact Milestones to stay on track.  



For more ideas on how you can lead breakthroughs in your organization, follow this blog and check out my web site.  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, November 28, 2016

Instant Gratification vs. Innovation

If I told you that if you reduced your nonprofits services by 10% this coming year, you could be back to where you are the next year along with a 20% improvement that would carry on in future years, would you make the reduction?

I hope that you would say “yes” – the math works.

But if I said you had a “chance” to get the 20% improvement – not a guarantee – then it becomes tricky.  And that is the problem that a lot of organizations – for profit and nonprofit – have with innovation.  They are unwilling to take the chance that investing money and time in innovation will pay off in the future.  It is a short term focus.  And it is not unlike the problem of instant gratification.

You have probably heard about the Stanford Marshmallow Study in the 1970s.  Children – four and five year-olds – were given a marshmallow and told that if they would wait to eat it until the adult comes back into the room in fifteen minutes they would be given a second marshmallow.  But if they eat it before the adult comes back, that’s all they get.  (Click here for fun video example.) When these children were tracked through their adult years, the ones who exercised delayed gratification had much higher quality of life in a wide variety of measures.  Having the self-control to focus on the future and delay gratification paid off in a big way for these children.

Can we learn delayed gratification from these children and forgo some of today’s services for the hope of more in the future?

It is admittedly challenging.  Most nonprofits are dealing with real people who have real challenges right now.  But it is likely that you will continue to have people with these needs into the future – probably more than you can serve.  Therefore, investing in the future makes sense if we want a long term Mission Impact.



For more ideas on how you can lead breakthroughs in your organization, follow this blog and check out my web site.  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.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

CEO of Your Health

You cannot make much of a Mission Impact if you do not have good, quality health.  And whose job is that?  You are the CEO of Your Health.  How would you evaluate your performance in that CEO role?  Here are some suggestions for improvement:

*Create A Health Vision.  What do you want your health to look like, feel like, and be like all through the decades as you age?  Create a picture of this for yourself along with a description.

*Set Health Goals.  Set some short term achievable goals – especially if you are re-committing to your health, along with longer term stretch goals that will take you toward your vision.  See here for more on effective goal setting.

*Design a Health Strategy.  Now that you know what kind of health you want, how will you get there?  Who are your Docs and how often will you see them?  What are your sleeping and eating habits?  What vitamins (if any) do you take?  What kind of exercise will you do and how often (FYI: “I don’t have time for exercise” is not a good health strategy.)

*Health Strategy Implementation.  Create specific action plans for your goals and strategy.  As a CEO or supervisor, you know that strategy often breaks down at the implementation stage.  Don’t let this happen to you!  Get a coach if you need one or some accountability partners.  Don’t be discouraged if you have ignored your health for years.  While it is best to start early with implementing your strategy, you can catch up.  Check out the book “Younger Next Year.”

Remember that you “hire” your Docs and they are like consultants.  I fired a cardiologist a few years ago and got a new referral.  When the new Doc asked me why I changed I said “I fired him because he was not paying close enough attention to my situation.”  I have been getting very good service from the new guy.  Also, get second opinions if you question a diagnosis.

[NOTE: Being the CEO of Your Health does NOT mean that you pretend to be an MD! Don’t self-diagnose unless you stubbed your toe and don’t self-medicate unless it’s a beer after your favorite team lost.]

You are the CEO of your Health.  As one of my mentors used to say, we don’t have a “health care system in the USA,” we have a “sick care system.” We need to take control of our health future so that we have good quality of life through the years, can enjoy life more over time, and make a Mission Impact while we can.



For more ideas on how you can lead breakthroughs in your organization, follow this blog and check out my web site.  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.