Continuing Ed

Four Timeless Lessons from NVI’s New PsychArmor Courses

In a collaborative, partners tend not to have authority over each other, resources are often limited (and shared, at that), the issues at hand are varied and complex, and each partner’s motivation can be different. The challenges of collaborative leadership are unique, Often, traditional leadership skills aren’t enough. Collaborators need proven strategies for organizing their efforts, building engagement, fostering learning, and planning for sustainability, in ways that are unique to this work. 

That’s why NVI has invested in building “Communities Serving Veterans,” our own school on the PsychArmor platform. Over the past year, we’ve launched eight courses to help empower leaders to hone the unique leadership skills demanded by this environment. We’re honored that luminaries such as General Martin Dempsey, our own Bob Woodruff, and several other esteemed and engaging leaders have lent their voices and expertise as course narrators. 

Together with PsychArmor Institute, the social impact experts at the Collective Impact Forum, and multiple subject matter experts from across the public, private, and independent sectors, we’ve distilled principles of collective impact and real-world lessons learned by community leaders, in service to collaboration for impact in the lives of veterans. 

Our two most recent releases include: 

“Documenting Best Practices” 

Former Navy SEAL Jon Sanchez—a noted speaker on team and leadership development—discusses how organizations can define, identify, document, use, and share best practices in their work serving veterans, service members, and military families. 

“Sustaining Momentum” 

Narrated by Bob Woodruff, award-winning ABC News correspondent and co-founder of the Bob Woodruff Foundation, this course examines how the eco-cycle model of collaboration can help partners understand the collaborative process and plan for sustainability together.

I wish I’d had these courses four years ago before venturing into the veterans’ space or attempting collaborative work. I’ve pulled my four favorite nuggets of wisdom from our latest courses to share with you here (along with the reasons they resonate with me).

“In a culture of continuous learning, leaders are willing to examine what isn’t working with a constructive mindset instead of shame, blame or avoidance.”

I’ve worked in environments where the predominant way is thinking was fixed-mindset, and I’ve worked places where the mindset was growth-oriented. Teams that embraced the latter paradigm have always felt more productive and primed for success. When employees, or in this case, partners, fear failure, they’re less happy, healthy and productive. In all of the growth-mindset jobs I’ve had, the pace was set by the leadership. When leaders model this mindset by asking for help, learning from mistakes, finding what can be fixed or improved, and growing, they give others permission to do the same. Watch “Documenting Best Practices” here.

“It’s vital that we don’t waste either time or resources ‘reinventing the wheel’…Create a template for sharing best practices, and host them digitally, accessible to all collaborative members.”

Reinventing the wheel is a massive pain and waste of resources, and yet we often insist on doing so anyway. Some might guess that it’s pride. I think that most of the time, the decision comes down to awareness of best practices and accessibility, and ease of use. I’m all for best practices, but if I’m going to use them, it needs to be easier than starting from scratch. That’s why hosting your best practices in a sortable, filter-able, searchable library is the way to go. If users can find, read, and employ them more easily than starting at square one, they’ll use them. Watch “Documenting Best Practices” here.

“The next phase is Creative Destruction...By letting go of tasks that no longer serve their goals, the collaborative creates the conditions for new ideas to spring up and take root.”

The ecocycle model, which comes from the world of biology research, gives us a handy metaphor to understand this crucial, if painful, part of the collaborative process. The “Creative Destruction” phase can be likened to a forest fire that destroys some parts of the ecosystem but results in the deposit of nutrients to make the next generation of growth possible. Using a “controlled burn” approach to Creative Destruction can unburden your collaborative of the work that no longer serves your collective goals, and create space for innovation. Watch “Sustaining Momentum” here.

“…It’s important to view collaboration as a marathon and not a sprint. Realistically, it won’t always be full speed ahead, and I’m here to tell you: That’s normal.”

Again, for the people in the back: When you mix your personal passion for serving veterans with the urgency of the unmet needs in your community, it’s a recipe for burnout. Just like your body isn’t made to sprint 26.2 miles, your mind, heart, and community resources aren’t able to solve every problem in the next 12 months. Pace yourself. Prioritize. Keep your eyes on the prize, but appreciate small wins along the way. Watch “Sustaining Momentum” here.

What lessons do you wish you could’ve learned from a PsychArmor course, instead of from the school of hard knocks?