Why you shouldn’t have priorities

I focus on what mattersDid you know that the word ‘priority’ was part of the English language for 500 years before it became pluralized? 500 years!

Why should you care about this little linguistic tidbit? Because it offers insight into why your mission statement may be–how shall we say?–sub-awesome.

You see, it wasn’t until 1940s that we started having priorities. Plural. That’s when the trouble started.

We got into the (nasty) habit of believing that all tasks were created equal and that all of them had to get done. We no longer had a priority, i.e. a clear idea of the “thing that was most important”. We started having priorities, i.e. things that were all important.

If everything is equally important, how can you prioritize? How can you focus? How can you convey the one thing that is most important about your organization? You can’t!

And that, I’m pretty darn sure, is contributing to the Laundry List approach to creating Mission Statements, which is leading to ~50% of nonprofits having Mission Statements that are technically incomprehensible.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again (because it warrants repetition)–if you tell someone your everything, they will remember nothing.

Listen to this week’s podcast and learn more about the power of having a priority. One.  Singular. Priority.

Is mediocre the new perfect?

mediocre1Used to be that if I just worked hard enough, I could tick all the things off my to-do box that needed to get done. “Perfect!”, I would exclaim at the end of the day.

That’s no longer the case. It doesn’t matter how long or hard I work, that to-do list is always there at the end of the day. It’s smug. Always growing. Always coming up with new things for me to do. It’s irksome. And existential. Infuriating, really.

Maybe you can relate? I find that nonprofits attract perfectionists. Makes some sense. Idealism and perfectionism are like two peas in a pod. I see this combo in many of my clients. In many ways, it serves them well. They get a lot done and make the world a whole lot better of a place!

But at what cost? The relentless pursuit of perfection is exhausting. It takes a toll. It’s not super healthy, what with the stress that goes along with it. This is why I’m a new-found advocate for mediocrity. Yes, that’s right mediocrity. Or if not mediocrity, at least a much bigger Good Enough Box.

I make my case for mediocrity in this podcast. Take a listen and see where you land. Is mediocre the new perfect?

Alert, alert: We’ve got a gratitude deficit on our hands!

thank you in metal typeIn sifting through the data from our Wordifier research (the free tool that helps you amplify your words), I came across a startling–and depressing–discovery:  Not all nonprofits are thanking their supporters!

Gasp. Sigh. Forehead slap. Yipes!

The word ‘thank’ (as in ‘Thank you’) showed up on 54.3% of the websites. ‘Thanks’ made an appearance on 34.6% of the sites.

If we’re being generous, that means that some form of gratitude shows up on 88.9% of nonprofit websites. But in perusing the raw data, it looks like organizations who use one of these words, also use the other, meaning organizations that loverize their donors double down on that love, i.e. some form of gratitude likely doesn’t show up on 88.9% of the websites, but rather a smaller number of websites.

That there are any nonprofits with gratitude-less websites hanging out on the interwebs should be a wake-up call to us all. Gratitude is free, bountiful and feels awesome to give and receive. Here’s a Language Lab podcast devoted to the amazingness that is gratitude.

When we gather the Wordifier data in future years, I want us to be living in a world free of gratitude-less websites.

Thank YOU, dear reader, for being awesome and amazing and doing the wonderful work you do to change the world!


Do you communicate as effectively as you think?


Do you communicate as effectively as you think?