It’s the time of year when we can feel excited for the coming holidays yet overwhelmed by them. We’re looking forward to a break, to visits from family members, to family and religious traditions. At the same time, there’s more to do: shopping, holiday programs, parties and of course those year-end deadlines at work. It’s a time when we can be joyously focused on others.
Yet in the midst of the busy season, I’m asking you to briefly pause to think about yourself and the impact you can make on others. I believe we all want to make an impact with our lives. We want to know that what we are doing matters…to someone.
I recently visited my parents in Iowa. Whenever I go back I reflect on the people and experiences there that made an impact on me. Two people in particular came to the forefront of my thoughts during this trip.
Mr. P. was my high school science teacher and coach. He’s retired now, but he always had passion for his work and it showed. He kept himself relevant. He didn’t become “outdated” but always had a way of staying connected with his students. I’ll always appreciate how he granted me grace on my last chemistry test. He was a man of strong character – you knew he would have your back if you needed him.
Mr. Adams was also a teacher (world history) and coach. I recall how he used short and memorable phrases to anchor a major teaching point. (“Man is basically greedy” was the underpinning of many world conflicts.) He taught us the importance of being an involved citizen and led by example. He left teaching to start a local newspaper and became a successful businessman. Mr. Adams taught me a lot about capitalism, even though it wasn’t an economics class. It was a sad day for students when he left teaching, but he was pursuing his passion for business to serve the community in a different way.
When I look at Mr. Adams and Mr. P. for what made them impactful I note three things:
They were passionate about their professions and pursued them fully;
They were authentic and of strong moral character;
They were relevant. What they taught, how they continually learned and developed and how they connected with others was always up to date and relevant.
How we develop our talent and our character, how we nurture ourselves and how we show up at home and in the workplace is a powerful demonstration to others.
I leave you with this thought for the season. In the midst of caring for the many others in your lives, remember to commit to care for and develop yourself. In doing so your impact will increase and you will be memorable to others in ways you can’t possibly anticipate today.
In 2016 I plan to spend a lot of time serving my husband, family, friends, students and the many women I meet. I will also reserve time for my personal self-care, learning and growth.
I wish you a belated Happy Hanukkah, a Merry Christmas, Happy New Year and all the best for whatever tradition you choose to celebrate this holiday season!
Susan Hodge created Women Leading Together in order to provide seminars, workshops, and coaching circles to help career women move forward to create fulfilling careers. Visit our website at www.WomenLeadingTogether.com.