A New Challenge

*Featured photo by Joel Muniz on Unsplash.

It’s the last day of school in my area, and I was thinking about all of the activities the kids have done this year (remotely and in person). It got me thinking about the activities I had to complete throughout the various leadership programs in which I’ve participated. I noticed something about those moments:  as soon as the programs ended and I went back to my work, I stopped those activities. The activities were fun and they taught me a lot, but I seemed to not have time (or made time) for them when the program was over. Has that ever happened to you? 

Those activities were made to get my mind going, consider alternatives ways to lead, and challenge myself and others to get out of our comfort zone. However I, like many others, went back to my comfort zone (way of leading and communicating) soon after receiving the completion certificate. Well last year I tried something different, and I’m going to do the same thing this year. I went back to those activities that strengthened my way of leading and completed them all over again.  It was fun, time-consuming, and beneficial. I discovered new ways of doing things, picked up new hobbies, and learned more about myself (like I’m too impatient to wait for bread to rise). This is my challenge to you leaders out in the world: do some activities to continually strengthen the way in which you lead. It doesn’t matter if you lead at home, at work, or in the community. We all need to keep developing our strategies in order to be better and do better. Here are some things that can be done over the summer, or over the course of a year:

Summer reading challenge: We all know that reading is fundamental, but when was the last time you challenged yourself to read regularly (and I don’t mean work related items)? Set a goal of the number of books you plan to read over the summer or year and commit to it. After reading, share that book with another person (or at least tell someone about the book). Even consider giving yourself a prize when you complete the list!

Fix something: I remember when I taught a first-year seminar course with a group of faculty members. Instead of simply reading books and articles related to a subject with a general project at the end, we started the semester discussing a world problem. By the end of the semester, the students had to solve the problem from their major of interest.  Now, I don’t expect myself or anyone to solve a major world problem, but consider examining a problem in your community or at your place of work. Can you solve it?  Try and find out.

Test out a new meeting method: As adults, we fall into the trap of running meetings the same way and never changing. Instead, research a new way to have effective and fun meetings, and test it out. See how others respond. *I apologize to my team for the things I’ll test out next year.

Join a new committee: This can be linked to the “solving a problem” scenario. There are many local and statewide committees that need new members. Learn about them and join one where you can tribute.

Pick up a hobby: Too often, our calendars get packed with so many responsibilities and we forget about ourselves. Make time for yourself by picking up a hobby. Go back to a hobby you once had, or try a new one and think of involving others.

Take a class: Whether it’s face to face, online, fee based, or free, it’s so important to keep learning. I remember a colleague auditing an Arabic language class. It was a challenge for him, but he enjoyed it. Learning opens us up to new adventures and concepts. Are there classes near you to take advantage of?

Volunteer:  This is a no brainer. Many people choose to volunteer during the holidays, but consider choosing a time when organizations lack help. Also, make it continuous act.

Whatever you choose, be sure to have fun with it!

Keep leading and stay safe,

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