The Single Most Important Asset That Nonprofit Leaders Need To Protect To Ensure Success | Beth’s Blog

The Single Most Important Asset That Nonprofit Leaders Need To Protect To Ensure Success

Leadership

Original Photo: Flickr - Flood_G

Earlier this month, I caught up with long time colleague, Vincent Stehl, Media Impact Funders in Austin, TX during the the Nonprofit Technology Conference.  One question I always like to ask colleagues, what did you read or who did hear speak at conference that inspired you or was a big ah ha.   Vince did not disappoint!  He shared an interview from PopTech with Brain Pickings’ Maria Popova who sat down with John Maeda for a brief discussion on writing, curating, caring and the importance of sleep.

The brief summary:  Be passionate  about your work and get enough sleep.  She used the term “give a sh**ness” to describe the passion you need to have to be successful.  She also debunked the myth in our society that you can get by with skimping your sleep.  Counter to what people may believe about Maria, she prioritizes getting enough sleep.

I just finished reading Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown.   The book goes beyond personal productivity techniques and shares how to create the systematic discipline for figuring out what is absolutely essential, then eliminating everything else.   It helps with making choices is a world filled with many choices because of our ability to connect.  It is about doing less with more impact in your professional life.   Chapter 6 is about Sleep, the message in a nutshell: protect the asset.

McKeown says that our best asset for changing the world is our selves.  If we under invest in ourselves – minds, bodies, and spirit -which many people who work for nonprofits and in the social change world do – we damage the very tool we need to make our best contribution to the world.  The most common way that do damage is sacrificing sleep.   According to research, sleep deprivation undermines high performance.

We have to change our mindset:

From:  One hour less of sleep equals one more hour of productivity
To: One more hour of sleep equals several more hours of much higher productivity

Getting enough sleep improves everyone’s ability to explore, make connections, and do less but better through your day.  These capacities are what leaders of high performing nonprofits possess – and they get by getting enough sleep.    But how much sleep do you need?  According to the Sleep Health Index 2014, individuals need between 7-9 hours per night.

How much sleep did you get last night?  Every night this week?    Not sure?   Many fitness trackers can track your sleep too. And, if what gets measured get done, tracking your sleep will help focus on getting enough sleep hours.   The apps and devices use motion detection, but they don’t measure the quality of sleep – you need to go to a sleep lab for that.  I use my fitbit to track my sleep, but there are also other apps like Sleep Cycle.

If you are a nonprofit or social change leader, are you protecting your most precious asset, your sleep?  Are you modeling this at your organization and encouraging others to protect the asset?  Do you monitor your sleep with a fitness device?

 

 

 

 

 

 

6 Responses

  1. When I was at Groupaya, we would do extensive debriefs throughout and after every engagement, nitpicking every detail for opportunities to improve. Over time, a pattern started to emerge, and it completely surprised us. The factor that seemed to have the highest correlation with success (and conversely, with failure when it was missing) was self-care: getting enough sleep, eating, not working while sick. It sounds so obvious, but it’s incredibly easy to overlook. Here’s a blog post I wrote about this: http://fasterthan20.com/2014/04/the-secret-to-high-performance-collaboration-slowing-down/

    When I started sharing these results, I learned that Arianna Huffington has been a huge evangelist of the get-enough-sleep movement. Here’s a piece about that: http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2014/07/arianna-huffingtons-tips-for-better-sleep/373884/

    She also has a TED Talk on the topic.

  2. […] did you read or who did hear speak at conference that inspired you or was a big ah ha. … Read More Share this:TwitterFacebookGoogleLike this:Like […]

  3. […] with John Maeda for a brief discussion on writing, curating, caring and the importance of sleep. (Beth’s Blog) Like this:Like […]

  4. […] of exhaustion is not only unsustainable, it’s downright unhealthy. This leadership-focused  post from Beth Kanter puts to rest the myth that staying awake longer makes us more […]

  5. […] recent post on Beth’s Blog discusses the most important asset you can protect in your work: your […]

  6. Beth says:

    Hi Eugene,

    Your response got routed to spam, so sorry for the delay in responding.

    Thank you for sharing your insight about the connection between self-care and performance. Wouldn’t be great if we all looked at self-care data when evaluating our own work and performance?

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