Resurrection! Less than a month to graduation…

Desertscape of the UAE

A Return to Civilization

Less than one month to graduation, and I think it’s time to finally resurrect this blog.  Back to Basics is being resurrected as “Reframing the Framework” v2 (Reframing the Framework was also the name of my blog on the USC Marshall School of Business Admissions Blog).  I’m particularly excited as I think this avenue is going to give me an outlet to express thoughts that are not necessarily related to business school or USC.  Guess I’m back to blogging about my existentialist thoughts, philosophical ramblings, random travels, and the like.  Looking forward to being back!

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Managing My Own Expectations

I need to manage expectations better.  What do I mean by that?

For this post, I’m not referring about expectations that come from work, nor am I referring to expectations that are from my community involvement.  I’m talking about expectations that I have for myself – things that I expect that I’m able to do and able to complete.

Perhaps it has to do with age, but I truly believe that if I put myself to any task, I am fully capable of completing it.  This line of thinking is starting to bite back.  I think the problem that I have is that I enjoy doing many things and staying busy.  Compound that with an unwillingness to stand on the sidelines means that you get someone that may be overcommitted.  Am I overcommitted?  No, I don’t think so – but with so many different opportunities for engagement, it’s important for me to step back and reevaluate to determine what is truly important to me.

What’s important is that whatever I do has the potential for impact, has the ability to positively affect someone’s life.  Okay, great, but everything that’s community related is like that…  Fair; then I would say that it has to have significant impact, and that I need to be able to find an opportunity to be deeply engaged in it.  I realize that I have very little interest in working with successful organizations.  Successful organizations don’t need the help – they’re already doing fine without additional support.  Seems like what’s important to me is making sure that the community groups that I care about are functioning sustainably by the time I “graduate.”

I had this discussion a while back with a good friend of mine, and we both agreed that we take much more interest in small organizations than the big established ones.  There’s always more excitement in that kind of atmosphere, never knowing what tomorrow will bring.  The key to my success will be transforming my passion and interest for that into a career.  The question now, is “How?”

Having a Clear Mission

I finished reading “Managing the Nonprofit Organization” by Peter Drucker, the book that I mentioned in my last post, and in post-reading reflection I thought that the book covered some great topics that were really relevant to running a nonprofit organization.

First and foremost, I want to reflect on the importance of having a clear mission for the organization.  Looking back at one of the organizations I’ve worked with, one significant problem that I had to deal with was the lack of clarity on the mission.  Without a clear mission, organizations fail to organize their programs and activities to support it, and end up chasing different loose ends at the whim of their respective leadership.  So what can organizations do to prevent this lack of direction from the beginning?

It’s important that the mission of the organization is focused on delivering the organization to it’s vision articulated in the vision statement.  Drawing the mission down from the vision will help the organization work towards a goal that makes sense.  Along with that, it’s important to evaluate the mission to ensure that the organization is actually serving the population appropriately.

Although I’ve only got a basic view of what a mission should be, I’ve definitely realized  the importance of it.  A lot of the time people have great ideas for programs, but they don’t think about how the program will fit with the organization as a whole.  I think having that overall picture is what separates a program director from a nonprofit executive.

Drucker emphasizes three things: opportunities; competencies; and commitment.  Does the mission take into consideration all these items?  If not, how can an organization take those three items into account?

The 21 Indispensable Qualities of a Leader – John C. Maxwell

Amazon Link

I just finished reading the 21 Indispensable Qualities of a Leader by John C. Maxwell and thought I’d take some time to reflect on the book.  For full disclosure purposes, I haven’t read his other works, and this book was meant to be a follow on to the 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership, so perhaps I’m reading it out of context.

One of the best things to be able to do is to just sit back and reflect on the work that you’re doing in life.  This book gave me some time to be able to do that, especially in the context of my professional work and my community work.  What I thought was useful was that in this book it gave some “Daily Takeaways” at the end of the chapter.  It helps to be able to think through and get examples on what the qualities mean in the day to day life.  There were definitely some qualities that I hadn’t thought of, and will keep in mind while going forward.  I’m looking forward to re-reading this book in the next month to see where I am with everything.

So what makes a good leader different from a great leader?  For me, I think it boils down to commitment.  It’s imperative to be committed to what you believe in, committed to those who you are leading, and committed to yourself.  Having commitment n those three things will enable a person to succeed in whatever they want to accomplish.  Let’s look at some of the things that people think about when they think of leadership: vision, selflessness, drive, charisma, etc.  If I’m committed towards something, I’d think that I’d have a vision of where I’d like to take it.  Likewise, if I’m committed towards something, I’d be willing to give 110% of my time to the cause, and be driven to succeed.

The questions that I make sure to ask myself are:

  • Am I doing what I care about the most?
  • What am I working on that matters most to me?
  • Why does it matter?
  • Am I giving 110% to the work that I care about?

Next on the list: Peter Ducker’s Managing the Nonprofit Organization, courtesy of my good friend Gene Kim.