Enjoy the Journey

Recently I reached a seminal moment in my professional and personal journey. After three and a half years of study, research, and writing, I completed my dissertation requirements and earned my PsyD in Human and Organizational Psychology (I/O). The moment that I received formal notification that I was done brought great relief. There had been quite a few hurdles along the way and I was happy to know that it was all over and I had finally earned the title “doctor”.

After I had a chance to celebrate, however, some nagging thoughts started to enter my mind. I began to ask myself what’s next. All of this effort. All of the papers and research. For three and a half years. And now, nothing but a few congratulations and “mazal tov”s and an updated LinkedIn profile. It was almost as if others seemed happier about my accomplishments than I was. How could that be?   

I think that my mistake was that I may have focused too heavily on the end goal and assumed that by finishing the journey I would suddenly feel this rush of happiness or fulfillment, as if there was this pot of gold awaiting me on the other side of the finish line. What I soon realized was that In order to feel real satisfaction and joy, it is important to try to find it from the entire process that has led you to this point.

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Reflective Thoughts on the 15th Anniversary of 9/11

I was living in Chicago at the time, employed as a teacher in an independent high school. I will never forget the moment that an administrator told me, with a seriousness and fear that I had never seen from him either before or since – that the World Trade Center had been hit and that he was “not f**king kidding!”

Down in the school gym we listened to a live conversation on NPR between a reporter and someone inside one of the towers who was describing the tower-rattling boom, the stifling smoke and the NYPD’s initial orders to stay put. Little did either party know what would soon become of that man on the phone. He almost assuredly did not make it down in time to save his life.

We all have our 9/11 memories, seared into our minds much the way that Kennedy’s assassination lies forever in the minds and hearts of our parents or grandparents. But this time was different. We were now at war. We just didn’t know with who. Or how the war would unfold. Or how long it would last. Or its long-term implications, including our protracted struggles with Radical Islam and ISIS. At that moment we simply knew that we had been dealt a devastating blow, one from which we now know that we would never fully recover.

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Leaders as teachers

Leadership may not be the first word that comes to mind when describing teachers. In fact, some exhaustive lists of teacher descriptors, such as this one, include such predictable terms as prepared, enthusiastic, and supportive, but mention nothing specific about leadership. Nevertheless, as a former classroom educator who now coaches executives, I strongly believe that there are many things that leaders of all stripes can learn from teachers.

Teachers mold us from our youngest years and give us a foundation for life, regardless of the particular paths that we eventually choose. They are, outside of our parents, the first true leaders in our lives and those that we turn to for knowledge, guidance and direction. Many of us emulated our teachers and wanted to grow up to be like one or more of them.

While there are many qualities that make teachers natural leaders, there are a few attributes and mindsets that seem particularly apropos for leaders in the workplace to reflect upon and learn from.

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