Monday, September 16, 2013

The Value of One...Day

Those of you who have attended The LeaderShape Institute are aware of the theme for Day Two...The Value of One, The Power of All.  We speak often of the importance of one conversation, one person, one vision and how that can make all the difference.  In fact, participants to The LeaderShape Institute receive a pebble as part of our commencement activity that signifies that one pebble (or action) can be the start of something that creates a wave (or movement) bringing one's vision to reality.

We believe that small actions can make a difference because it creates momentum and, perhaps more importantly, does something...anything.  Far too often, we sit on the sidelines waiting for others to do what needs to be done and when that doesn't happen, we blames those same "others" for not doing what we ourselves won't do.

We got tired of this situation and decided to do something about it back in 2005.  We created the one-day program, Catalyst.

Catalyst also came about because we would be asked by a number of people who experienced the Institute if we could "make people cry" in less than six days.  Seriously.  We laughed, but also got that people were hungry for an experience that was as powerful as the Institute as long as it didn't take as long and didn't cost as much.  We knew that you can't replicate the space and time that helps make the six-day experience what it is, but we could ask questions and infuse LeaderShape philosophy into a one-day experience that could be beneficial and meet a lot of needs.

So we did.

This year, we passed 10,000 participants who attended a Catalyst session since 2005.  Many of our Institute partners have held sessions of Catalyst and we are so excited to have been introduced to many other organizations wanting to "start something extraordinary" and get a taste of LeaderShape.  We held 51 sessions of Catalyst this year and should hold a little more than that in 2014.  We seem to have met an important need while also providing another option for those wanting to be a part of creating a just, caring, thriving world.

One day.  One question.  One conversation.  One possibility.  Catalyst.

Here's to valuing the simplicity and power of "one."

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

2013 Palmer Award Recipients!

This year produced another batch of awe-inspiring applications for the LeaderShape Palmer Award. Please help us congratulate our 2013 recipients, Meghan Grodon, Meghan Higgins, and Atul Menon!

Meghan Gordon
Session: National Session: LeaderShape Tahoe 2012

About the Vision:
“…a theatre for social change organization that serves artistic, educational, and philanthropic interests.”

About the Work:
Meghan and the “Parity Players” created a production that advocated for marriage equality and had the opportunity to perform it six times for over 200 audience members. They partnered with organizations such as GLAD, PLFAGG, Human Rights Campaign, and more, through which the players were able to gain a deeper understanding of the cause they were working to support. The cast and crew also participated in over 800 hours of community service hours! Meghan has filed for 501-c status so that the organization can become a nonprofit, allowing the “Parity Players” reach to go beyond Rollins College and the Winter Park, FL community.

About the Institute:
“The beauty of the LeaderShape program is that no on is going to ever tell you “no”, and when you realize that strangers you may never see again will not you “no”, you’re less inclined to preemptively tell yourself your limitations. The entire production was an exercise in me running towards fear, and embracing the idea that I may fail – and very publicly”

Meghan Higgins
Session: Temple University 2012

About the Vision:
“…a world where those who are disabled can comfortably live in an environment where they are respected as individuals and treated as equals.”

About the Work:
As a way to connect her passion for architecture and her drive for equality, Meghan is driven to build spaces that will provide access to those who are denied it. She joined Freedom by Design, an organization at Temple that uses the design and construction talents of students to impact the lives of people in the Philadelphia area. Through her involvement and leadership within this organization, Meghan initiated a project to provide a wheel chair ramp and deck for a single mother. With the installation of this ramp, the woman will no longer need to carry her twelve-year-old daughter in and out of their house every day. She has hopes of someday creating playgrounds that are adapted for everyone to enjoy.

About the Institute:
“All the exercises and days of self-reflection at LeaderShape opened my mind to the limitless possibilities I could achieve by doing something I am passionate about. It was here that I recognized architecture, nonprofit organizations, and equality are all important to me.”

“To me though, there is something that has been more rewarding than passing each benchmark with satisfaction – it has been our ability to learn and grow with one another as a compatible team of individuals who have a similar drive.”

Atul Menon
Session: Qatar LeaderShape 2012

About the Vision:
“…a Qatar where all employers paid their workers on time, gave them decent accommodations, provided them with valid IDs and let them rightly keep their passports. In other words, my vision was to see that the labor laws were enforced and strictly followed to ensure no worker’s rights were compromised.”

About the Work:
Atul spent time learning more about the lives of migrant workers and working to create change by visiting labor camps, speaking with workers, and volunteering. Through Atul’s academic pursuits, he helped to secure a research grant for a project he is working on now to create a financial curriculum that will educate migrant workers about saving-investment opportunities in Qatar and in their home countries.

About the Institute:
“The week-long LeaderShape experience was the first time I was required to think through and write what I wanted to do with my life. I was asked for the first time, “What do you care about?” Did I care about anything? I realized I did.”

The Palmer Award began as an endowment gift donated to the Alpha Tau Omega Foundation by Dr. Edmund T. Palmer, Junior. Together the Foundation and LeaderShape provided three monetary awards to Meghan, Meghan, and Atul in recognition of the steps they have taken toward implementing their vision. 

Friday, June 7, 2013

Day 7: Interns and Possibility

LeaderShape has two new members on staff!

This summer, there are two interns working in the office. Two graduate students who believe in LeaderShape enough to pick up and move to central Illinois for the summer. They live in an apartment they didn’t select with someone they don’t know in a town they have never been to. Their first day was at an office they had never seen with people they had never met.

When we think about Day 7, sometimes we become hyper-focused on moving forward with the vision work that was done at The LeaderShape Institute. And working towards one’s vision is an amazing way to make a difference in the world and to the causes that are most important to us. Your vision is important, so keep at it!

It’s also important to recognize that there are many other ways that we see Day 7 take life.

Like taking a risk that may bring you to an unknown town for a new job working alongside strangers, all of which can offer a different experience, perspective, and serve as an additional way to embrace what we learn during our LeaderShape experience.

Building community, embracing change, believing in possibility.

Stephanie and Joe

Friday, May 17, 2013

One Thousand and One

It seems that everything these days is quantifiable and I'm not sure that is such a great thing.
Because we have so many numbers, statistics, and benchmarks thrown at us in most everything we do, we become blind to those numbers that really do mean something and that are important in our world.  I know I struggle with this as I try to sift through the information that really connects to me and my vision, and the information that really is just white noise in the background.

I would really like you to think about the number 1,000 as I try to put some meaning behind a number we refer to often as "a grand."  This week LeaderShape held the one thousandth session of The LeaderShape Institute.  That is in no way close to how many billion hamburgers McDonald's has served, our national debt, or any other large numbers we deal with from time to time.
It is just a thousand.

A thousand learning communities created from scratch each with the ideal of being better to each other.  A thousand versions of Star Power held to simulate the all too real possibility of abusing power in defense of our own power no matter how little we have.  A thousand Guest Leader Forums where individuals who tell us they have achieved some measure of success in the world and still wish that they had something like LeaderShape to attend to when they were "your age."  A thousand commencement circles holding hands and looking to each others eyes.  Seeing our best selves.  Seeing a new friend.  Seeing a soul awakened for perhaps the first time.
It is just a thousand though. 

In those sessions are the memories, conversations, tears, and hugs that tell me, and hopefully all of you, that we DO have the ability to change the world.  We have that ability because we do for six days.  We have done it a THOUSAND times for six days. 

I hope you will share in our celebration of a thousand.  Perhaps it doesn't seem like much on the surface, but it means everything to those that are proud to call themselves LeaderShape graduates.

One thousand and one begins now.


this post is shared by Paul Pyrz, LeaderShape President

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Must Reads

Each year, LeaderShape hosts a retreat and training event that brings together the Co-Lead Facilitators for The LeaderShape Institute. It's a time to reconnect with each other and with LeaderShape, to engage in meaningful dialogue, and to continue to grow as facilitators, teachers, and learners.

The Co-Lead community is a great resource. And this year we asked them to share with each other, and with us, what it is they are reading and paying attention to. We'd like to share that list with you, too! And we are curious...what would you add?

Blogs and On-line Articles

Kid President
Brene Brown
Idea Architects (Jeffrey Cufaude)
The Color Lines
Dan Pallota


Dan Pallotta: The way we think about charity is dead wrong
Chimamanda Adichie: The danger of a single story
Brene Brown: The power of vulnerability and Listening to shame


Start Something That Matters by Blake Mycoskie
Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead by Sheryl Sandburg
Toy Box Leadership: Leadership Lessons from the Toys You Loved as a Child by Ron Hunter, Jr. and Michael E. Waddell
You Don't Have to Have a Title to be a Leader: How Anyone, Anywhere, Can Make a Positive Difference by Mark Sanborn
Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking by Susan Cain
The Way of Transition: Embracing Life's Most Difficult Moments by William Bridges
My Beloved World by Sonia Sotomayor
Leadership and Self Deception: Getting Out of the Box  from the Arbinger Institute
This Thing of Darkness by Harry Thompson
Endurance: Shackleton's Incredible Voyage by Alfred Lansing

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

One Thousand

On May 14, 2013 the 1,000th session of The LeaderShape Institute will begin at North Carolina State University.

The 1,000th session!!

What a remarkable milestone demonstrating progress towards the LeaderShape vision of a just, caring, and thriving world where all lead with integrity and a healthy disregard for the impossible.

As we all continue working on #Day7, we hope you are reaching milestones in your own work and life. And when you do hit a milestone, take some time to celebrate! It’s important to recognize and validate all of the thinking, writing, talking, meeting, and time that you have put into the process. 

Included in this celebration are the people who mentored, supported, cheered, and helped you towards your milestone. They deserve appreciation and to rejoice along with you.

This community and celebratory spirit can also help you to keep the momentum going. The last thing we would want for you (and for us) as we each reach a milestone is to allow it to justify an extended break from making progress on our big, audacious (and maybe even scary) goals. Take the excitement and satisfaction from your achievement and channel it into energy to keep moving forward.

Day #7: Celebrate, appreciate, and keep the momentum going!

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

#Day7 at The Lead Retreat

The LeaderShape Staff just spent #Day7 with 130 people who are dedicated to LeaderShape, to leading with integrity, and to a healthy disregard for the impossible; we were with our Lead Facilitators wrapping up our annual retreat.

The Lead Facilitators are a community of people who travel to sessions of The LeaderShape Institute on behalf of our organization and in service to the Cluster Facilitators, On Site Coordinators, and Participants who come together for six days of discovery. They give of their time and of themselves to help us work towards the LeaderShape vision and mission.

What does this have to do with #Day7?

We wanted you to know that if you ever question whether or not anyone even cares about you and the work you are doing to make the world, your community, and your campus stronger through your own #Day7 work, that there are people who care. Our Lead Facilitators care. They care a lot.

Lead Retreat 2013

Lead Retreat 2013

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Elements of Leadership

Positive Change

These are the 7 elements of leadership that are part of the LeaderShape definition of leadership. They are introduced on Day 1, are the inspiration for the Family Cluster skits on Day 5, and tie to lessons of the curriculum throughout the week.

But what are they to you after the Institute?

As you live out Day 7, perhaps these elements can inspire you to stay true to the lessons that resonated with you from the week. If you feel disconnected from these or from The LeaderShape Institute, take some time to focus each element.  Maybe you'll want to think about one of them each month, diving deep into how each one can inform your daily work and life. You can spend an afternoon evaluating them all at once. Or you can have a talk over coffee with a family cluster member or mentor.

One thing we hope is that no matter how or how often you reflect back on the elements of leadership from the Institute that you remember what you left those six days wanting to do. And do it.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Keep Going

We learned about Kid President when he shared his #AwesomeYear challenge. We liked Kid President's attitude and campaign so much, we had to share it. You may have seen it on our Facebook page, Twitter feed, or Live It! email. 

Recently Kid President shared another video: A Pep Talk from Kid President to You. Maybe you need a Day 7 pep talk. Maybe you know someone else who could use a little inspiration or motivation. Perhaps this can help:

Day 7.
Keep Going.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

2012 Favorites

We've had some wonderful contributors to the LeaderShape blog this year. We hope that you enjoy revisiting a few of our favorites:

Litsa Orbin reflects on her experience as a Cluster Facilitator.

Jessica Ekstrom, LeaderShape graduate from North Carolina State University, started Headbands of Hope to benefit young girls with cancer. 

One Word 2012
LeaderShape facilitator Julie Larson shares the word she focused on in 2012.

Central Michigan University's Vincent Thurman gives out Free Hugs to share encouragement and kindness.

Some of our LeaderShape graduates have participated in the planning of TEDx events around the country. Here are some entries on those experiences:

Monday, January 7, 2013

Goals Separate Leaders from Dreamers

By Rob Sheehan. For more detailed ideas on Goals that are included in this blog, please check out my new, free e-book entitled The Power of Goals.

Dreams are very important!  Any time we set out to make a difference we need to begin with looking deep inside ourselves and asking what we care about, what are our aspirations, what are our visions for the future?

But in order to bring our dreams and our visions into reality, we need to set goals.  Without goals, you run the risk of dreaming the day away and never really making a difference.

There has been a ton of research done on goals (for example, “A Theory of Goal Setting & Task Performance,” by Edwin Locke and Gary Latham).  Here are some of the most important guidelines for setting goals:
  • Set goals as outcomes – on what you really want, not the activities that may lead toward them.
  • Make sure that all your goals are SMRT:  Specific, Measurable, Relevant, Time-Bound
  • Use the right “A” in your SMART goal formula.  All goals need to be SMRT.  But to be SMART you need to pick the “A” that is right for your situation. Here are your options:
    • Attainable Goals, which you have an 80+% chance of accomplishing, are good if failing will have many negative consequences.  Attainable goals are good to build some momentum with easy wins, or to learn more about new environments, or if you are concerned about getting discouraged.
    • Aggressive Goals, which you have a 35% chance of accomplishing, will improve your performance.  Research shows that the more difficult the goal, the higher the level of performance.*  If you feel like you have a good system and you want to maximize performance of it, then this method will help you do it.
    • Almost Impossible Stretch Goals, which you have a 1% chance of accomplishing, will require you to design innovative ways of going about accomplishing your goal.  “Working harder” on the same process won’t do it.  You have an opportunity for breakthrough performance with Almost Impossible Stretch Goals.
  • Celebrate Noble Failure.  If you are inspired to pursue a goal and you go for it, but you don’t make it all the way, then appreciate the progress you have made and appreciate that you worked hard at something you really cared about.  This mind-set will bring you more long-term success than letting the fear of failure keep you from doing what truly inspires you.
Again, you can see more detail on all of this in The Power of Goals e-book.  If you use these principles and apply them to your personal and work life then I promise you much higher levels of performance, fulfillment, and satisfaction.   Good luck with all of your dreams and your goals!

Robert  M. Sheehan, Jr., Ph.D., is the academic director of the executive MBA program at the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business. He provides consulting services in strategic planning, board development, and leadership and teamwork development for nonprofits. He has more than 30 years of executive management experience, including 18 years as the CEO of two different national nonprofits – including LeaderShape, Inc. from 1992 – 2001.  He currently serves as Past Chair of The Board of Trustees of LeaderShape.