I’m stoked to have another great friend Jerry Kaufman joining us on the blog. He and his wife Amber are larger than life examples of generosity and vision. I’m so happy he’s writing a part of this series.
I am also thankful that we attended a class together our freshman year in college (the one where we learned that “fake it until you make it” could be a real thing if you’re writing papers about books that you didn’t read). Oh but we’ve grown so much since then! And we now read 100% of every book we read and never lie. Ever.
But seriously, Jerry is someone my husband and I respect, together with his wife Amber. I know you’re going to like hearing his perspective. Here are 3 great insights to leadership for you today (the last one is my favorite). Have a good one!
The three things I have learned from leaders focus on the regular practices that I believe can build a foundation for personal sustainability, growth, and long-term success. The first comes from my college baseball coach, someone who served as an important mentor for me during some important formative years. The second is from my sister, Julia, who is changing lives in the world of health and fitness. I’m not sure that the third one came from anyone in particular. It’s just something that I started doing a couple years ago in an effort to face my own fears.
- Have a plan, be intentional, and evaluate. My college baseball coach would tell us that we needed to be honest about our strengths and weaknesses, have a goal for improvement, develop a plan each week for what to work on, and try to get one half of one percent better each day based on that plan. Such small improvements don’t seem like much, but they accumulate over time. What has this meant for me years later? Each new year, instead of doing a resolution, I write out specific goals for the year for the following areas of life: professional (developing skills), financial (savings, retirement, paying off student loans), physical (new ways of being active, exercise goals, eating healthy), mental (reading, hobbies, etc.), relational (maintain relationships, building new ones), and spiritual (growth, personal transformation, character development). Then every 3 months, I evaluate where I’m at and where I want to be in the next three months. I use weekly and daily goals/planning to keep myself on track. And most importantly, I reflect on the successes and failures. Having a plan gives you something firm to hold onto during stressful and chaotic times – and because you developed the plan during a time of intentionality, reflection, and clarity, it’s almost always more trustworthy than the plan you come up with while you’re stressed and anxious as you go through each week!
- Take care of your body. Eat healthy, exercise, get good sleep. My sister is a trainer, strength and conditioning coach, national record power lifter, and speaker (julialadewski.com). She works with people across the life stage – from young people to single working moms with several kids to people in retirement. I’ve learned from her that no matter what you do for a living, you can make manageable changes to your lifestyle that will have exponential effects on emotional, mental, and physical health. And there are no shortcuts. It requires having a plan and being prepared.
- Do something uncomfortable each week. You don’t like talking to strangers? Strike up a conversation with someone you don’t know. Busy all the time? Sit in complete quiet for 10 minutes at the end of the day. Always a planner who has to have everything figured out? Just once, go into a meeting at work and wing it. In a hurry for no real reason while driving? Get in the busiest lane of traffic. In conquering fear and discomfort in small things, we will be better able to do it with big things. We will also learn to understand our own emotions and thought processes in times of fear and awkwardness…and possibly develop patience or courage or compassion in the process. Some of these will be one-time events that appear to have no real implications for our life but some of these will become moments of revelation about who we are or a new direction we need to take. And this doesn’t require any planning, though it surely can. (In addition, doing this can add small moments of excitement to your day or week!)
Jerry is a Ph.D. student at the University of Chicago. He studies sociology and is interested in social inequality and nonprofit organizations. He is also the co-founder of Health Gives Hope, a nonprofit organization that works in rural Ethiopian communities to improve health by providing access to clean water, sanitation, and medical care.