“IF YOU KNOW THE WHY, THE HOW IS EASY”
“Simplify, Simplify, Simplify”
GENERAL THOUGHTS ABOUT BOARDS AND RELATED TOPICS
WHY BOARDS MATTER
If a board’s primary responsibility for the spirit of the nonprofit is attended to with care and mindfulness as an expression of each trustees own highest values; the responsibilities of governance, guidance and fiduciary oversight will be easily served. Too often; however, over time the responsibilities of operations, finance, staff, plant, development, etc, occupy the majority of the boards time and become their first concern; taking much of the magic and joy out of trusteeship.
FOUNDATIONS OF TRUSTEE JOY
What Matters is the inspiration that each trustee has at the core of their being and the opportunity that being a board member gives them to actualize their own highest aspiration.
What Matters is that each board activity (especially each board meeting) strengthens each trustee’s own humanity, the humanity of their fellow trustees, and the continued evolution of the nonprofit they serve—toward kindness, compassion, and excellence.
What Matters is the board’s dedication to the pursuit of excellence in every aspect (large and small, sacred and mundane) of the nonprofit they serve with respect, humility and humor.
HUMILITY and HUMOR
What Matters is a sense of humility and humor grounded in an awareness of the truth of the impermanence of our own efforts, as board members; an appreciation for the efforts of the trustees who have preceded us and those who will follow in support of the organization / institution and its ideals.
KEEP IT SIMPLE
BOARD SOURCE is a nonprofit whose mission is Empowering Boards and Inspiring Leadership. Their online Bookstore offers 127 titles about Boards, Trusteeship, etc. Is it really that complicated? Do you really have to / have time to read 127 books? Being a good trustee is no different than being a good human, and the awareness of what entails is hardwired in us at birth, and reinforced by all of the Wisdom Traditions on the planet.
EVERYTHING CHANGES, INCLUDING BOARDS
Everything is Connected
Some trustees have been on a board for 30 years, some 3 years, some 3 months. Some boards have existed for 200 years, some for 100, 50, 10, 5, and some are start-ups. Boards over 100 years old dealt with WWI, the 1929 stock market crash, WWII, The Depression, Civil Rights. Current boards deal with technology, climate change, gender equality, equal rights, racism, terrorism, mass shootings, et al.
Everything Changes, even on boards. Trustees rotate off, others are elected, leadership changes at the board level and staff level. Those changes may impact vision, inspiration, direction, and lead to a board environment of optimism, and opportunity, or pessimism and constriction.
Everything Changes, yet boards are often seen as (or see themselves as) sober, solid, entities carrying the weight of the institution on their backs.
Everything Changes, however, whether a century ago or a year ago, boards are formed around an inspiration, vision, and mission that fires the trustees with faith, idealism, enthusiasm, dedication, and diligence to make the world better.
Everything Changes, but a board’s commitment to charitable good works and the commitment of each individual trustee to aspire to be of service and inspire others to do so as well remains, or should remain constant no matter the era they live in.
Everything Changes, but this idealistic commitment is “WHY YOU ARE ALL HERE.” There is great good in regularly recommitting to the WHYS of idealism, especially when the HOWS of operations, finance, plant, staff development, etc, and the seemingly inevitable interpersonal issues that arise when people, with all their varied personalities, philosophies, preferences, prejudices, get together to achieve a goal, can overwhelm the WHYS of Why We Are All Here.
Everything Changes, and with a larger perspective, working together (today) with compassion, tolerance, courtesy, and courage, allows for understanding and with understanding, growth, and with growth, positive change within ourselves, our boards and our shared focus on the institution with which we are entrusted.
GANDHI’S SEVEN SINS
Wealth without work
Pleasure without conscience
Knowledge without character
Commerce without morality
Science without humanity
Worship without sacrifice
Politics without principle
Peace and Harmony based on mutual acceptance and respect among Trustees is essential on the board. If there is to be peace and harmony within the nonprofit then the nonprofit makes an important contribution to peace and harmony in the world.
EIGHT STANZAS FOR TRAINING THE MIND
Written by Geshe Langri Tangba (1054-1123)
With a determination to accomplish
The highest welfare for all sentient beings
I will learn to hold them supremely dear.
Whenever I associate with others I will learn
To put their needs before my own and to dedicate
myself to their happiness and well being.
In all of my actions I will learn to search into my mind
And as soon as an afflictive emotion or thought arises
Endangering myself or others, I will firmly face and avert it.
I will learn to cherish beings of ill nature and
Those oppressed by strong sins and suffering
As a precious treasure very difficult to find.
When others out of jealousy treat me badly
With abuse and slander, and so on, I will
Learn to take all loss, and offer them victory.
When one I have benefited, with great hope
Unreasonably hurts me very badly, I will
Learn to view that person as a spiritual guide.
In short I will learn to offer everyone
All help and happiness directly and indirectly
And take one myself all harm and suffering.
I will learn to keep these practices undefiled by
The stains of the eight worldly conceptions **
And understanding all phenomena as illusions
Be released from bondage of attachment.
The Dalai Lama recites these stanzas every morning
** PLEASURE/PAIN; LOSS/GAIN; PRAISE/BLAME; FAME/DISREPUTE
THICH NHAT HANH Quotes:
Thich Nhat Hanh is a revered 94 year-old Vietnamese Buddhist Teacher
“The energies of mindfulness, concentration and insight can liberate us from our anxiety and worries. We let go of the past and the future, and come in touch with the wonders of the present.”
“For things to reveal themselves to us, we need to be ready to abandon our views about them.”
“When you plant lettuce, if it does not grow well, you don’t blame the lettuce. You look for reasons it is not doing well. It may need fertilizer, or more water, or less sun. You never blame the lettuce. Yet if we have problems with our friends or family, we blame the other person. But if we know how to take care of them, they will grow well, like the lettuce. Blaming has no positive effect at all, nor does trying to persuade using reason and argument. That is my experience. No blame, no reasoning, no argument, just understanding. If you understand, and you show that you understand, you can love, and the situation will change.”
“Usually when we hear or read something new, we just compare it to our own ideas. If it is the same, we accept it and say that it is correct. If it is not, we say it is incorrect. In either case, we learn nothing.”
“It never helps to draw a line and dismiss some people as enemies, even those who act violently. We have to approach them with love in our hearts and do our best to help them move in a direction of nonviolence. If we work for peace out of anger, we will never succeed. Peace can never come about through non-peaceful means.”
This link is for an inspiring 8 minute video by Buddhist Teacher Joanna Macy: https://vimeo.com/191169785