As some of you know, I’ve taken on a big new (but temporary) responsibility. I was asked to be the director of a local children’s center. I agreed thinking I could give them 8-10 hours a week of technical assistance/consulting and all would be well.
How wrong I was!!! Turns out the organization has been failing in every single way except educating and caring for the children. That, and a dedicated and competent staff and new Board of Directors, meant there was a small glimmer of hope, despite running an enormous deficit every year for 5 years completely depleting its reserves.
I enlisted the help of a colleague, so I am the “co” director and not alone in the enormous task of righting this foundering ship.
I’ve been here before — taking over a dysfunctional organization — but never one in this condition. It is an enormous undertaking. And I am not as young as I used to be!
One of the characteristics of a very dysfunctional organization is the chaos. A culture in which there is no team work, everything is personalized, things are done as if they have never been done before (no process or procedure) and a general atmosphere of distrust verging on paranoia.
So first thing is to calm everything down. As my co-director says, “Remember to speak in your calm voice.” Get people to focus on their own job and responsibilities and start to bring down the “hysteria.”
We’ve largely succeeded; you can actually feel the difference when you walk in the door. But the work — now almost 30 hours a week — has taken a toll on me.
So, I am trying to remember to speak to myself in my calm voice. To think about the things that help me stay calm. I made a list (and making lists helps me stay calm):
- Manual Canovas’ Palais d”Ete scented candles that I first encountered in the Manual Canovas shop in Paris in 1985 and have had in my bathroom every since.
- The smell of Lilacs which are blooming on the four bushes in our front yard
- The Princess Pose, a yoga pose, that my trainer sets up for me at the end of our vigorous weekly workouts.
- Imagining our time in our new house in Mirabel aux Baronnies, France which we will visit for the first time in October.
Here’s some inspirational photos to keep us all CALM . . . . .