How to be the Smartest Person in the Room

Caption: Photo by Timothy Dykes on Unsplash

“When Mordecai learned of all that had been done, he tore his clothes, put on sackcloth and ashes and went out into the city, wailing loudly and bitterly….When Esther’s maids and eunuchs came and told her about Mordecai, she was in great distress. She sent clothes for him to put on instead of his sackcloth, but he would not accept them. Then Esther summoned Hathach, one of the kings’ eunuchs assigned to attend her, and ordered him to find out what was troubling Mordecai and why.” Esther 4:1, 4-5

Being the new person on the team is hard and uncomfortable. You don’t know the “norms” and what is acceptable. You want to appear to be smart and successful, so you may choose to cover embarrassing characteristics or history.

I’m experiencing that again as I join a new team. I was listening to a webinar from Dr. Ivan Misner, who said, “If you’re ‘always’ the most successful person in a room – you’re hanging out in the wrong rooms!” That convinced me I am in the “right” room with this new team. Even in my short time on the team, I’ve already said embarrassing things that had people laugh nervously. I’ve already tried to cover up, when instead I needed a new perspective and a new tactic on how to discover the “norms” of this team.

This desire to cover up what could be embarrassing or unwanted is seen in the book of Esther. When Queen Esther’s cousin, Mordecai, heard that everyone from his religious background was to die as part of a genocide, he put on quite a show. Esther heard about it and sent him clothes. She wanted to hide what she thought was wrong.

And then when Mordecai refused, Esther did something very wise. She asked a question. Instead of continuing to push Mordecai to cover up, she upped her curiosity.

To deploy this wisdom and become the smartest and most successful person in the room, do these things:

  • Get into rooms and circles where you are not the most successful or smartest.
  • Resist the initial desire to cover up or ignore the undesirable. Be honest in who you are and what you bring to the group.
  • Most importantly, ask questions.

Here is the challenge that I pass along to you: Spend a full day asking questions only. It’s harder than it may seem, but the growth and understanding will be infinitely more valuable than proving you are the most successful and smartest in the room.

And after you’ve spent a day asking questions, come back and tell me how it went on Facebook @HopelesslyHopefulBooks.

© 2020, Mollie Bond. All rights reserved. Originally published at www.molliebond.wordpress.com/how-to-be-the-smartest-person-in-the-room

How to Start a Nonprofit PART 1

Photo by Danielle MacInnes on Unsplash

“So we fasted and petitioned our God about this, and he answered our prayer.” Ezra 8:23

As a nonprofit coach, many people ask about starting a new nonprofit. The passion they have for creating an organization that produces change has many steps. The eighth chapter of Ezra lays out a blueprint for the basic first few steps.

  • Ezra had a team of like-minded individuals (8:1-14). If you are looking at people standing next to you and find that they have the same passion, walk the journey together. On the other hand, if you are passionate about a particular cause and it feels like you are doing it all alone, it’s because you are. The best nonprofits I’ve seen start with people who were already walking the same road and decided to do it together. In modern nonprofits, these are the members of the founding board.
  • Ezra had the authorities approve the plan (7:13-26). Even though this happens first in the previous chapter, it’s important to make sure that you have thought about the ripples and impact on the community. Being in touch with local leaders as well as understanding the filing process is important. (And please contact an attorney for questions about filing, I’m not an expert on the law!) For Ezra to have approval on the plan means he had to have a plan first. As my friend @Christine Soule says frequently, “Be stubborn about the mission, be flexible about the plan.”
  • Ezra paused and reflected on the mission (8:15). Worship required Levites once they arrived in Jerusalem. Ezra paused for three days and during that time, he found this key in being ready to tackle the work to fulfill the mission. Keeping the mission the focus of what you and your team will do is critical in the beginning stages—and for the lifetime of the nonprofit.

What I find interesting is that this pause to reflect happened while the Jews were already on the road. In other words, they were already on a journey and stopped to double-check they were equipped for the mission. Many nonprofits plan and never do the service, or serve without a plan. Make sure you “start the journey” by serving your target population of clients or members right away and have a path of success for them already laid out in part.

  • Ezra hired specialists (8:16-20). When the gap in expertise was evident, Ezra found people who could help. They were already into the journey—already on a mission—when the need became evident. Be careful about hiring too early, but make sure you are aware of the weaknesses of the team.

Many more steps make up the journey, and not all of them were in chapter 8 of Ezra. However, the keys to building the right team, collecting community support, and building a plan kickstarted the journey. Of course, there are moments to pray throughout all these steps.

When have you reflected on your mission, as a nonprofit leader or as an individual? What was the key takeaway from that experience? Tell me on Facebook @HopelesslyHopefulBooks.

© 2020, Mollie Bond. All rights reserved. Originally published at www.molliebond.wordpress.com.

Older hand and a younger hand holding a rose

Remember Timeless Truths

Photo above by Jake Thacker on Unsplash

“Hear this, you elders; listen, all who live in the land. Has anything like this ever happened in your days or in the days of your forefathers? Tell it to your children, and let your children tell it to their children, and their children to the next generation.” Joel 1:2-3

One of my favorite memories is talking to my grandma about what she remembers as a child. For example, she’ll tell the story of the flood when she lived along the river. Or she’ll tell the story about the table that was the last purchase her father made before he died in his 40’s. Or she’ll giggle about the story of her first driving lesson on the expressway in the city. She may not have been laughing that day, but it is certainly a funny story now. Through these stories, I’ve learned not to worry about possessions, how to value family relationships, and laugh about the stressful moments. Her storytelling reveals lessons that are timeless.

The book of Joel in the Bible shows a leader who included the context of the day and related it to God’s work in the middle of that context (see Maxwell Leadership Bible). God gave Joel a purpose to describe what he saw and tell how God was going to use the terrible to bring forth the miraculous—and encouraged the people to tell their children and their children’s children for generations to come. Those stories of what was happening in the moment became timeless truths.

Jesus might have done the same. In the Bible, he talks about a current event and highlight God’s fingerprints. He’ll use a story to reveal the timeless truth. Pastor Kevin of Magnolia Lutheran Church mentioned in a sermon that in Matthew 22:1-14, that it is possible (according to some scholars) Jesus referenced a real situation when sharing the parable of the wedding feast. It is possible Herod’s son was getting married, and those that didn’t show lost their lives (see Matthew 22:1-3). Jesus turns the story in an unexpected direction when he uses that launching pad to show what grace may do in that context. Jesus uses a story to reveal a timeless truth.

What stories do you share that reveal a timeless truth? What is happening now that you’ll want to tell future generations?

© 2020, Mollie Bond

What is Your Purpose?

Author note: A special thank you and shout out to Dr. Joseph Castleberry of Northwest University for allowing me to base this blog on his thoughts about determination. Photo by Michael Heuser on Unsplash 

I was recently in a meeting where Dr. Joe Castleberry, president of Northwest University, explained that determination in the Bible is knowing and understanding the purpose, then planning and following through with persistence. It is certainly a bit of wisdom I want to noodle on, and I hope you do as well.

I remember many plans I’ve made that lacked purpose—the passion that motivates a person into action. I also remember many of those plans dying away. I remember the underwhelming desire to persist. Perhaps you have a few plans that have fallen away without the underlying purpose.

As I restarted this blog, I realized that I needed a purpose. A plan. A motivator to persist. Then I read 2 Corinthians 3:5, which says, “Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God.”

The renewed purpose of this blog is to help you get closer to Jesus. To be comforted by him, refreshed by him, purposed by him. God must come first. If you are encouraged to spend more time in the word or thinking about or praying to God, then I have done my job. The blog is not proof of my competency (which comes from God anyway), or hot pursuit of persistence (which can’t occur without the purpose anyway).

I will also state that this is where I’ll give updates on other things going on that may draw you closer to God. One of those is an upcoming devotional for people separated by their spouse by me and being published by Ambassador International. As I work with the publisher to narrow down a launch date, I’ll release it via this blog and on social media channels. There will be fun giveaways, special opportunities, and much more to announce in due time.

In the end, it is all about determination to show God off. Albert Tate said, “The battleship is designed to fulfill the mission of the banner it flies.” I am designed–purposed, even–to fulfill the mission of encouraging people to come closer to God.

The battleship is designed to fulfill the mission of the banner it flies. --Albert Tate

What is your purpose? Are you in the planning or persistent stage? Leave your thought below.

© 2020, Mollie Bond

The Rebel

Author notes: Strolling through a shopping mall (masked, of course) two weeks ago, I saw the Christmas section. Already. It was the end of September. It reminded me of a short fictional story I wrote and thought I would share with you, based on John 7:32-49. Enjoy!

Photo by Jakayla Toney on Unsplash
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He stood up. Oh no, I thought, this is going to be a disaster.

A Christmas Eve service is my favorite moment during the Christmas season. It’s the one time that it feels like Christ’s birth is recognized before I am once again covered in consumerism. The feeling is like being wrapped with a hastily bought pre-made bow meant to rouse the receiver to believing a greater value of a re-gift. In other words, the season, apart from the Christmas Eve service, feels like smoke-and-mirrors to me: a bad white elephant gift.

So when the man stood up in the middle of the calm, candle-lit serenade of “Silent Night,” I feared the Christmas magic of a treasured memory would vaporize into another smoke-and-mirrors illusion.

He was the rebel. We all knew it. My small group leader whispered to me earlier that he was from the south side. Someone else asked during last week’s prayer session that we pray for him because she thought he was possessed. I can’t blame them in that assumption. After all, he was socially uncouth, loud, and almost heretical in the claims he randomly declared “truths.” I had not verbalized my own concerns—that he was here to stay in our small congregation, showing up each week with a new odd question that would take too long to answer during Sunday School, veering us from the carefully crafted lesson plan.

When I saw him at the Christmas Eve service, I guided my family to the other side of the sanctuary. No one was going to destroy this one moment. I deserved a holy night.

He stood up. And loudly, over the sound of the piano, bright as the candle that was dripping wax on my cardboard protector, yelled, “I am the light of the world!”

The piano stopped. We all looked at the far corner. We looked at his face that wasn’t anything like the others around us. We looked at his unkempt manners, at his rebellion. We looked. And we stared.

He stood up, interrupted our Christmas Eve service, and now commanded that we acknowledge him as the light of the world. How dare he.

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This fictional scene draws parallel to John 7:32-49. The Scripture tells us Jesus was at the Feast of Tabernacles. Each year, around October, the Jewish community gathered to watch the priest pour water on the altar, while the people chanted a prayer for God to send rains for the winter harvest. On the last day—“the greatest day”—the people walked around the temple seven times (like Jericho). It is this day that “Jesus stood and said in a loud voice ‘If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him’” (John 7:37-38). It would be similar to someone standing up in the middle of “Silent Night” at a Christmas Eve service and proclaim themselves as the light of the world. Which, in fact, Jesus did in John 8:12. He declared himself as light of the world.

Meanwhile, “the Pharisees heard the crowd whispering such things about him” (John 7:32) and were determining how to kick Jesus out of their club. Their conspiracies and overheard mumblings occurs before and after the feast.

And all the while, I wonder, how would I respond to such a rebel? If someone were to go against my traditions that were part of my religious routines, would I lay down those habits and follow his example, or would I shush him and ask him to sit? Am I a Pharisee or a Follower? When have I stood up?

I follow a rebel. Do you?

© 2020, Mollie Bond

Broken Road

Author’s Note: This blog, originally posted in September of 2020, reflects on the pandemic.

The highways are deserted, no travelers are on the roads.

Isaiah 33:8a

One of my favorite wines is called “Ten Mile Broken Road.” It’s a nice red blend. I’ve sipped it these past few months, looking out the patio window at the bridge.

The bridge is empty. Generally, the bridge has plenty of traffic. But, as the pandemic gained traction and the executive order to stay at home began, the bridge emptied. The sounds of airplanes were less frequent. The toot of a boat asking the bridge to raise became an anomaly.

Isaiah reminds us that this is not the first time that a road was empty. God often had to bring justice on a people that produced an empty route, a deserted highway, a broken road.

It is also an opportunity to assess where you are going. Perhaps not physically, but also in your personal and professional life. What values do you hold? How do they show up in your daily life? What broken roads or relationships need repair?

Let’s come out of the pandemic stronger and excited to hit the road.

Do you feel stronger since the pandemic began? Share with me on Facebook @HopelesslyHopefulBooks. https://www.facebook.com/HopelesslyHopefulBooks

Photo by Zane Lee on Unsplash

© 2020, Mollie Bond. All rights reserved. Originally published at www.molliebond.org.

Leader Traits and Cultural Background

Traits can help or hinder a leader, just as culture can help or hinder a leader. Different characteristics can come from “gender, race, ethnicity, intelligence, sexual orientation, culture, nationality, religion, marital or parental status, position, department, union/nonunion” (Begeç, 2013, p. 64). A leader’s traits, like national culture, can impact how a leader guides the followers. Each person has different tendencies, which means not every leadership trait cannot be universal (Sanchez-Runde et al., 2011). Traits can vary based on the experiences and perceptions of a leader.

A minority leader may have a different experience or perception if the followers are of the majority group (Waters, 1992). The perceptions of a leader, whether the leader is part of the majority group or the minority group, could be from observing the actions and culture of another person (McGregor, 1994). The leader sees another’s behavior, weighs it against his or her previous experience, and then behaves accordingly (McGregor, 1944).

The leader’s behavior is exhibiting the leader’s traits or characteristics, which stems from the leader’s beliefs and values. Other influences such as the situation could modify the behaviors of a leader. The situation is a reflection of the behaviors of other people (McGregor, 1944). Therefore, recognizing diversity in another person can enhance the leader’s “inclusion of all individuals” (Gilbert et al., 1999, p. 61) and thus promote diversity. The leader needs to understand his or her characteristics and having such self-knowledge will enhance the leader’s inclusion of all individuals. The leader is self-aware of potential biases and notice other’s diversity.

Leadership in times of cultural diversity requires respect for another’s culture, but not losing the leader’s own culture in the process (Bueno et al., 2004). Based on experiences, being a self-aware leader can help the leader better respect different national cultures of those around the leader. For example, leadership in the west is a positive advantage, but in the east, leadership is correlated with cruel dictatorships (Sanchez-Runde, et al., 2011). Valued leaders in western cultures (Europe and the Americas) are “visible, and assertive” (Sanchez-Runde, et al., 2011, p. 207). In comparison, in Asian and far-eastern cultures, those characteristics offend followers.

A minority cultural background can differ from majority backgrounds (Ragins, 1997; Waters, 1992). Gilbert, Stead, and Ivancevich (1999) note even if organizations recruit minorities as followers, most likely those groups will assimilate into the majority culture because of the situation. A leader, as part of the majority, may conduct themselves in a way that is normal for their national culture. Sanchez-Runde et al. (2011) provide the example of an agenda for a meeting. Americans set agendas for meetings, and meeting participants leave the meeting with clear actions to perform. Meanwhile, Chinese do not set agendas, and instead allow objectives to naturally come out within “the flow” (Sanchez-Runde et al., 2011, p. 210) of the situation. If the American is the minority leader in China, the response from the followers may be different than at home. With knowledge of a diverse national culture, the American would quickly understand the need to wait, be passive in giving direction, and allow the “natural evolution of events” (Sanchez-Runde et al., 2011, p. 210). Determining if the characteristics and cultural background of a leader in a context unlike the leader’s own culture can move the person from being a manager to being a leader.

Conclusion

By understanding their own characteristics, cultural background, and the situation, a leader can raise a team that is ready to be successful. Leaders can promote diversity as a key element to any team success because the diversity creates new thoughts and solutions to complex issues.

References

Begeç, S. (2013). Effective diversity management initiatives.International Review of Management and Marketing, 3(2), 63.

Bueno, C. M., Antolin, G., & Tubbs, S. I. (2004). Identifying global leadership competencies: An exploratory study. Journal of American Academy of Business, 5(1/2), 80-85.

McGregor, D. (1944). Conditions of effective leadership in the industrial organization. Journal of Consulting Psychology, 8(2), 55-63. doi: 10.1037:h0056439

Ragins, B.R. (1997). Diversified mentoring relationships in organizations: A power perspective.Academy of Management The Academy of Management Review, 22(2), 482-521.

Sanchez-Runde, C., Nardon, L., & Steers, R. M. (2011). Looking beyond western leadership models: Implications for global managers. Organizational Dynamics, 40, 207-213.

Waters Jr., H. (1992). Minority leadership problems. Journal of Education for Business, 68(1), 15.

© 2020, Mollie Bond

How Can I Be a Better Mentor in the Grants Profession? Best Practices for Mentors

From the abstract: “Mentoring is a relationship that can bring grant professionals to a greater level of success. . . .This strategy paper presents some best practices mentors can apply when engaging in a mentoring relationship.” For the full article, see page 43 of this .pdf: https://www.informz.net/GPASSOC/data/images/Journal/2019GPAJournalWeb.pdf

Dreams and Callings

A college buddy and I were on her couch, talking about the plateau that a mid-career woman can feel. With our feet tucked underneath us like we were those college kids from decades ago, we discussed the next steps in our dreams as if we had just graduated. What struck me is that neither one of us was talking about the same dreams that we had right after graduation. At one point, I asked, “If my dreams aren’t the same, did I lose my way? Did I miss my calling?”

Want to read the rest? Click on http://www.kelliworrall.com/2019/05/23/dreams-and-callings/

Thank you, to author and friend, Kelli Worrall, for posting this guest blog.

You Are Already a Mentor

Thanks to the Grant Professionals Association for publishing this blog about mentoring.

“Katie was more than a great grants professional, she was my mentor. She pushed me to seek something bigger than myself. She asked how I had moved my vision forward. Katie connected me with other grant professionals, suggested tools to incorporate into my work habits, and provided a listening ear when a proposal got derailed.

Who in your life sounds like Katie? We are all mentored in life, whether it is a brief encounter that sticks with us or someone who intentionally asks us the questions that compel us to action. Mentors hold us accountable, challenge us, and bring us greater clarity on our values and purpose. Transformation occurs through the inspiration of another person. Are you ready to be that person?…”

Click here to read the entire article.