Gratitude And Reflections From 30,000 Feet

HikingPhotoHR

Through the whirr of the propeller, I have a gorgeous view of the California coastline. I can make out details of the land and seascapes below – Manzanita-covered mountainsides and purple-hued kelp beds as well as snow-covered peaks hundreds of miles in the distance. I’m on my way home from our annual COMPASS staff retreat in Santa Barbara. Our retreat is a chance to dig into the finer details of the landscape of our work, like sharing the innovations we’ve tried in our communications trainings this past year or the nitty gritty of how we allocate our time among different facets of our work. The retreat is also a time to look further afield at the broader landscape, capitalizing on the presence of our board. From this 30,000-foot view, the mountains that stand before us in the coming year are around long-term sustainability and growth – how to more effectively share our impact and diversify our funding portfolio. [Read more…]

COMPASS’ Energy Insights

By rerouting your day to include more energy-giving activities, you can avoid feeling drained. Photo courtesy of Ashley Burton via Flickr.

Every year, the entire COMPASS team, including our board, gathers together to reflect on the year past and brainstorm for the year ahead. Since COMPASS is a distributed organization, for many, this will be the only time of the year for us to see each other in person. It’s a time to reconnect, realign our shared goals, and re-energize the team. Our annual retreat starts tomorrow and, as always, we’ve got a lot to talk about.

A recurring theme of our retreats is how we can do better and take on increasingly transformative projects while strategically saying no. As Karen shared last week, time – and, often, institutional capacity – is inflexible, but energy is not. Fortunately, there are a number of ways to manage and align your energy to maximize happiness and productivity – from simple changes in your daily routine to a complete reorganization of priorities.

With that in mind, and heading into the retreat, I asked several of the COMPASS staff what gives them the energy to continue pushing the envelope in work and what they do to remain energized and productive. Here are some of the themes that emerged. [Read more…]

Re-Energizing Your Work (And Your Life)

What will you risk – taking on or letting go of – to renew your energy?
Photo courtesy of of Antoine Gady via Flickr.

When Brooke first invited me to participate in TREC’s Senior Leadership Program, I responded with “Maybe … but I don’t think I can’t take the time. Three weeks in Montana over nine months is a lot, especially on top of the travel I already have lined up.” Fortunately, she persisted. Now, two sessions into the program, I can’t imagine what a mistake I almost made. I simply couldn’t have afforded not to make time for this. It’s been and will continue to be a transformative experience, both professionally and personally.

My life, like yours, has been running me ragged. I love my job. I love my family. I love my life. But, I am tired. I am overwhelmed. I am perpetually behind. And whether you’re leading a business, a non-profit, or a research group, I suspect you can relate. Our culture rewards busy-ness. To be overwhelmed is the norm. For scientists, juggling the competing demands of research, publishing, grant writing, teaching, mentoring, not to mention engaging outside of academia, is exhausting.

Can we move beyond inevitable exhaustion? I do my job because I love it. It feeds me, and I suspect (or at least I hope) this is also true for you. How can we find a way for our jobs to feed us without devouring us?   [Read more…]

Know Thy Role (And Thy Bias)

Be clear about your role your bias when ytalk with a decision-maker

Last week, Erica shared a quotation by Stephen Schneider that lays out three simple guidelines for scientists who want to share their knowledge and perspectives with the wider world: Know thy audience. Know thyself. Know thy stuff. As Erica explained, we use this quote during our policy and communications workshops to start discussions about roles scientists can or should play in policy dialogues. We teach that knowing your audience – the first point – is fundamental to effective communication. I want to delve into the second point: Know thyself. One facet of this is knowing what role you play when you’re talking to decision-makers, and how that shapes your own bias.

Since I naively showed up in D.C. with my freshly-minted PhD, I often find myself dispensing this advice: Before you sit down at the table with decision-makers, be clear with yourself about your role in this world. You don’t have to start from scratch – check out some of the many insights and frameworks already out there to help you think through what your own role is. Otherwise, you could find yourself wasting a lot time in unproductive conversations, or worse, putting yourself in a very uncomfortable position. [Read more…]