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A Simple Gut Check Can Save You Millions

by Tiffany Crosby on 10/02/16

We live in a world obsessed with information. We spend countless hours and dollars trying to turn information into useful data upon which we can make sound decisions. In that search for that perfect performance indicator or that magical measure or trend, we can forget to something as simple as a gut check. 


There really are two types of gut checks. 

Unconscious gut check

The first type of gut check is that immediate, visceral response where you just feel like there's something more. I call that the unconscious gut check. You can't necessarily explain it or immediately identify what it is but you just know is not what it seems. In slang terms, we'd say that it just doesn't smell right or sit right with me. I've learned to listen to this unconscious gut check as it has never steered me wrong. The few times I've proceeded despite a gut check, I've regretted it. My Hades Project, as I affectionately call it, arose because I ignored my gut. I persuaded myself because of the company name associated with it. I was still relatively new in business and it would look good on my portfolio listing. I convinced myself to move forward despite my misgivings. Though years have passed, I can still feel myself trying to break out in hives when I think about that project. 

The Conscious Gut Check

Then there's the intentional gut check when you pause for a few minutes to ask:

- This all looks good on the surface but if I pull a string or two does it still make sense?
- Am I too emotionally invested in this to be objective?
- Would I care if my decision was blasted over social media? 

This conscious gut check slows you down so that your critical thinking processes can kick into gear. It's a habit that you have to intentionally cultivate. You have to know yourself well enough to know when you're liking to make a quick, emotional decision and pre-determine that you're going to put the brakes on that decision. 

So how do you cultivate the gut-check habit? 

1) Listen to testimonies of those who have acted in haste. The saying "act in haste, repent in leisure" was coined because it reflects the dire consequences experienced by many who have moved ahead blindly, without stopping to count the cost. Businesses have gone bankrupt because of deals that were executed despite misgivings. Individuals have accept job positions in other states, uprooted their family, and separated from their community despite misgivings. They were attracted by the title and the promises. Only to then find themselves out of work or in a desperate ethical situation at this new company. 

2) Recognize sales tactics for what they are -- pressure to get you to buy (or act) without thinking. Whenever you feel pressured to make a decision so you don't miss that deal that is too good to be true -- stop. Ask yourself, what's the worst that could happen if I don't move forward. Perhaps you decide the purchase makes sense after all -- then move forward and negotiate a deal. Maybe that job is a good position -- then move forward. But, if after thinking about it, you realize that it was the wrong choice -- think of the money or heartache you just saved.

3) Slow down. Just because we live in a twitter-obsessed society, doesn't mean that you have to live at that pace. Take time for prayer. Check out God's Word and see what it has to say. Ask for more information (data) if necessary. Seek out counsel and advice of respected leaders and mentors. Use the resources you have available to do your homework. 

Gut-checks are a gift. They're our friend. Embrace them. Understand their source. Whatever you do, don't discount them, they could save you millions.

Three Reasons You Can't Afford Not To!

by Tiffany Crosby on 05/21/16


I get so tired of hearing non-profit leaders say they can't afford to train their people. Either they don't have the budget for training or they can't afford for their people to take the time away need to train. I sometimes wonder though, if they realize what they're actually saying.  

By saying that you can't afford to train your people, you're actually saying that it's okay:

  • For your people to work inefficiently. Technology changes. Less costly and less time intensive methods of functioning emerge. Often, these new methods also improve the customer experience. By not taking the time to learn these new methods, you're depriving your customers of better service. Can you really afford that in light of your mission?

  • For your people to become stale. Changes in the socioeconomic, business, and legal environment are occurring on a regular basis. How do your people not only stay abreast of them but also determine how best to modify their services in light of them without adequate training? Ultimately, you run the risk of providing services that no longer meet the needs of the community or people you serve because you're working from an outdated frame of reference. Can you really afford that?

  • For your organization to have gaps in succession. Far too many non-profit organizations have a gap in leadership. We're riding on a tidal wave of looming retirements and people haven't been groomed to step into the shoes of those that are vacating. There's only so much poaching that can occur, ultimately the buck has to stop somewhere. Someone is left with a critical gap. Can you really afford to be that organization left with a critical leadership gap? Aren't the people you serve with more than that?
I don't know of any non-profit mission statement that says that they plan to do good for the constituent group they serve by neglecting to invest in their own people. But that's exactly the message that you send when you feel to set aside a portion of your annual budget and calendar for staff training and development. 

The reality is not only can you afford to but you can't afford not to. The people you serve depend on it. You may need to get creative on how you raise the funds necessary to cover staff training costs but your people are worth it. And, there is money available for training if you know where to look. So, put your creative wheels to work and figure out how to make it happen. You won't regret it.

Sustaining Motivation and Drive Over the Longhaul

by Tiffany Crosby on 04/17/16


Burnout is a very real issue whether in a for profit or not-for-profit organization. I see it all the time. People start that new job so much energy and drive. They are gung-ho. They are on fire. They eat, sleep, and breathe the mission and vision. They fully embrace their roles and responsibilities. But somewhere along the way, they fizzle out. 

How do you prevent this from happening to you or your team? I'm going to suggest something completely counter cultural. It may even sound rogue. I'm going to suggest that you step away. That you slow down or even stop to reflect, to organize and to plan. Stepping away forces you to reevaluate your priorities. What's important? What do I value? What's consuming my time? What can I or should I let go of? Stepping away forces you to focus on where you're actually focusing your time. It's your time to think about how your thinking and behaving.

Stepping away is not something you can do once. Stepping away is something you need to make a habit so that you can make better decisions on a regular basis. You don't want to just make good decisions today, but over the course of your life. Stepping away is not just critical for maintaining margin in your life. It's not just important for your health - mental, physical, emotional, relational, and spiritual, but it's also necessary for you to have vision, to be productive, and to be able innovate. It's necessary for you to be able to do all the things you need to do to accelerate your performance, and the performance of your team and organization.

If you're experiencing burnout or
If you have no time for anything else on your calendar or
If you have no time for reflecting and planning

Then this is for you. You may not think you can afford to set aside time to reflect and plan, but I'm telling you that you can't afford not too set aside time. So, start small. 

  • Set aside 15 minutes at the end of each day to reflect on the day and prepare for the next day. It takes longer than that to read up on the latest Facebook updates. 

  • After three weeks of daily reflection and planning, add a weekly reflection and planning time. Set aside an uninterrupted hour each week to reflect on the previous week and plan for the upcoming week. Protect this time like you protect the time for anything else that matters to you. And by the way, 1 hour is far less than the time spent watching a football game or other sporting event. It's also less than the time required to watch you're favorite television shows even if you fast forward through the commercials.
  •  After 1 month (i.e., you're about 8 weeks in), add a quarterly reflection and planning time. Plan to set aside a 2-4 hour chunk of time where you can reflect on the previous quarter and upcoming quarter. While this seems like a lot of time, it's really not much different than going to a movie once a quarter.
  • By the end of the year, you'll be ready to do the same for the year.
If you do this, you'll be amazed at how much time you suddenly find to do that which matters. Yes, you'll be forced to delegate some work. And yes, you'll be forced to let go of some commitments. But in the end, you'll find yourself reconnected to the mission and vision and to the passion and energy that fueled you in the beginning. The sacrifice of disciplined focus will be worth it. I promise you.

To read more about establishing a pattern of rest, check out "The Power of Rest". You can purchase this book on Amazon.com.

Learning to Say No! A Non-Profit Primer (Innovation Within Non-Profits Part III)

by Tiffany Crosby on 01/22/16

don't say yes when the answer should be no

Have you drifted from your mission or values: check your funding?

Do you want to guarantee that you will drift away from your mission? Chase indiscriminately after funds and people. Funds come with strings attached; so do people. That marquee foundation that you must get in your portfolio of funders may have their own idea about your mission, programs, and operations. That person that you must have as a champion or board member may have their own idea about your mission, programs, and operations. 

Before you go chasing after funds and people make sure that their vision and values match yours. Make sure that their release of funds, time, or energy is a result of their passion for the cause and not because they plan to exert control over what you do (or don't do) or how you operate. 

Needing money or people is not an excuse.

Now, you may be saying, "but we need money". Trust me, I understand the plight of non-profit funding. I know what it's like to wonder whether there will be enough funds to stay in operations six months from now. I understand how tempting a large grant may seem. However, I also understand the dire consequences of drifting away from your mission and/or comprising your values in the pursuit of that mission. I've seen non-profits lose their way far too many times and it pains me. 

Spare your people and protect the good work they do: Say NO

It pains me to see non-profits suffer from an identity crisis. It pains me to see people stressed out and frustrated because the demands on them are not realistic. They're trying to meet expectations set upon them by others that don't understand the true underlying issues or the programs that will be effective in dealing with those issues. These are good people. They're there because they care. And there's nothing more frustrating when you care then to be rendered ineffective regardless of how well-meaning the intentions. That's why it's dependent on your, the non-profit leader, to learn to say no.

Say No In Love But Without Apology

If you believe in the mission and believe in the organization's culture and values, then learn to say no in love but without apology. Say no to ideas that pull you away from your mission. Say no to programs that will cause your focus to drift regardless of how well-funded the program. Say no to people that want to come in and change your values. Say no to grants that require you to operate in a way that's inconsistent with your organizational values. Embracing innovation, which non-profits need to do in this dynamic environment, shouldn't change the essence of who you are. Your mission remains. Your values remain. Your programs may come and go, but you must stay grounded in your primary reason for existence or cease existing. So learn to say no!

Innovation Within Non-Profits (Part II): 5 Cultural Misfit Cues

by Tiffany Crosby on 10/27/15

Innovation has become the business buzz world. Every one wants it but no one wants the risks and costs associated with it. Innovation, by it's very nature, breeds failure. You will have many more failed attempts than successful attempts. Is the culture of your non-profit organization ready for that? If you're not sure, answer these 5 questions to see where you at on the innovative culture spectrum.


 1. Are you prepared to start programs on a pilot basis AND end them if they are not successful?

2. Are you ready to give employees permission to experiment with a critical process?

3. Are you willing to act as a catalyst to change including handling vocal naysayers and resistant board members?

4. Do your systems allow you to rapidly redeploy resources to different programs or services?

5. Are you willing to lay everything on the table (i.e., no sacred cows) AND do an honest assessment of effectiveness?

If you can answer yes to all five of these questions, then you have a solid foundation on which to build an innovative culture. However, if you've answered no to anyone one of the five, then you have some additional work to do before you can fully embrace innovation.

Why is this important you may ask. Just take a look at the economic realities surrounding non-profits. There are less overall resources and increasing needs. Non-profits can get any leaner than they already are; in fact, many need to make additional investments in people and infrastructure. So, if you can't cut costs -- what are you to do? Innovate, innovate, innovate.

Are you ready?