It’s been over a decade since my husband, Stephen Dinan, and I launched The Shift Network. We began with one paid employee and spent years in start-up mode, which was grueling at times. We’ve finally graduated from start-up land and are so grateful for the 90+ staff and the global network that we’ve built along the way.
When I was recently interviewed by Authority Magazine about the social impact aspect of our work, the editor asked me to reflect on what I wish I knew before starting this endeavor. I appreciated the chance to stop and think about what launching Shift had taught me, and perhaps something I learned along the way might resonate with you.
- Realize that we can be world-changers — all of us! It’s not just people with fame or fortune or who truly make a major difference on our planet. I realized that I could, too. For me, the first step involved shifting my own mindset to that of a world-changer. I shared with a mentor that our role at Shift is to create a platform for the “movers and shakers” of the consciousness space to give their gifts to large audiences with ease. But I didn’t really count myself as one of those people. “I think you vastly underestimate yourself!” she boomed at me.
At first, I was taken aback. But when I really felt into what she said, I realized she was right. I needed to shift my own inner story about my place in the world, and have a little more faith in myself and my own ability to create change. Once I made that shift, the next step was to align my mind and heart with strategic and consistent action. With those pieces all working together, I’ve been able to have a much bigger impact in the areas that matter most to me and our company.
- How we show up in the world is as important as what we achieve. Our leadership team has been focused on hitting the financial targets and other goals we set in our annual strategic plan. And of course, those things are important. But we sometimes forgot the power of just showing up for our clients and employees as loving human beings. The depth of our presence, our level of accessibility and emotional intelligence, the care and compassion we exude — these things are hugely important in how staff feel about their leaders and how much they want to support or collaborate with them.
I’m thinking about a woman that I recently hired to be a part of our Impact team. Let’s call her “Jen.” From the first minute I met Jen, I noticed her warm, calm, and soothing energy. I could feel Jen’s heart and her care in addition to her intelligence. I sensed she was someone with a long-term meditation practice, and could feel myself exhale deeply for perhaps the first time all day. Something inside me relaxed in her presence, and I instantly felt that I wanted to hire her.
Now Jen also had a stellar background with the philanthropic chops I was seeking for this position. But I had interviewed several people with impressive skills and backgrounds. It was the depth of Jen’s presence that made the difference. I’ve heard many other people at our company say similar things about her and I can sense how much they enjoy working on projects with her. So your mere presence is not to be underestimated!
- Forget perfectionism! Though it’s important to strive for excellence, 80% of the value can come from 20% of the work. And then a huge amount of time can be spent on those “cherry on top” pieces that aren’t as central to delivering on your core value proposition. Earlier this year, our Impact Team was focused on putting together our first-ever Impact Report. I felt it set an important precedent, so we went through multiple rounds of writing and rewriting and finding the most impressive statistics to put into the report. My colleague had done the layout herself, which looked nice enough, but I wanted it to look amazing — so I insisted it be put in our graphic design queue. I didn’t realize the queue was so long, and our project was a lower priority than others.
As a result, instead of this being done in January, it was completed just last week (mid-May). And now it’s almost too late to share about it, as it depicts our results from 2021. We would have been better off to just get it done and out in January, rather than this more perfect version in May.
I’ve learned to clarify what’s truly important to our customers, and focus the bulk of our time and energy there, seeing if there are ways to simplify so we can deliver the goods with less effort.
For more about these reflections, check out this video: 5 Things I Wish I Knew Before Becoming the Chief Impact Officer of Social Change.