I’ve always been curious to see what goes on at the Partnership for Excellence Conference—an always sold-out annual gathering of Santa Barbara County’s nonprofit leaders organized by the Foundation Roundtable—so when the opportunity to attend the 23rd annual edition of the conference came up last month, I leaped on the invitation and was not disappointed.
First of all, the mere sight of more than 500 attendees from Santa Barbara County’s philanthropic sector in one room is rather impressive. You always hear the lore about Santa Barbara having more nonprofits per capita than any other community of its size, and the passion, energy and brain power of the folks in the main ballroom of The Fess Parker Doubletree Resort that morning was enough to fuel a third-world nation.
The opportunities for networking and cross pollinating of ideas is enough to ensure attendance, but the conference also provided a lot of food for thought on how to improve your performance, as well as that of your organization. The overall conference theme was “Mindful Leadership: Strengthening Focus and Purpose,” and the keynote speaker focused on just that. Leah Weiss Ph.D., of Stanford University, gave a lively, interaction talk as she presented her research on the benefits of mindfulness practices.
Mindfulness comes down to a handful of factors, says Weiss, intention and purpose, attention, and attitude. Neuroplasticity, the idea that our brains can be rewired, is one of the ideas that mindfulness hinges on—we can train ourselves to become more mindful. She demonstrated this through experiments with the audience, asking people to write down their distractions and throw them away, draw a sketch of how they perceive their mind, take a moment of silence, and meditate on a calming scene she described. It was fascinating to see how much easier it was to focus (in a very crowded, distracting environment) with just a few of her strategies.
I also attended an inspiring workshop on “Power of Perspective: Overcoming Overload to Optimize Performance,” with Relly Nadler, Ph.D., a psychologist who specializes in emotional intelligence. It was fascinating. Truth be told, I was planning to dip in and out of the morning presentations, but ended up being so engrossed in what Nadler had to say that I stayed for the whole thing. Check out his free iPhone App highlighting his tools with video, called Leadership Keys. http://bit.ly/TNLiPhoneApp, it’s pretty interesting. You can also get more tools, tips, assessments, podcasts and blogs to raise your emotional intelligence at www.truenorthleadership.com/ei-central.
The rest of the full day conference, which I was unfortunately not able to attend, included workshops and presentations on:
-Human Capital: Opening a Conversation