By Kevin Alexander
4 Things I’ve Learned
As the saying goes: “The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” There are ways to start in the direction of your dreams without having all of the necessary resources. Though you may not have everything or all the support you need to complete your project, that doesn’t mean you can’t get started. You never know who you can meet along the way.
Be willing to get involved in organizations or events that are related to your mission. Within reason, make yourself available to opportunities to network and grow. More and more conversations and social interactions are going virtual, Provides increased opportunities to be involved in projects that you may not be physically able to participate in.
Know your relationship to your project
What is your “why?” Why are you working on this project? Why does it matter to you? Being able to articulate passionately, not just what the project is, but what the greater implications are, is integral in effectively communicating your mission.
Beware the burnout
Conduct self-assessments regularly to “check-in” with yourself. How are you feeling? Remember to set time aside to breathe and make sure you’re doing the little things to establish your sense of balance. You and your work are worth the investment in self-care.
3 Behaviors I Use to Help
I participated in various assessment tools to further understand my personality type, style of leadership, preferred management style, to name a few. Taking the time to learn about myself helped me manage situations more effectively.
Have an outlet
In this hour of divisiveness in our society, the notions of code-switching, fitting in, or representing your community have become evermore pervasive. It’s exhausting. Be able to compartmentalize your life. When you’re passionate, it’s easy to make excuses as to why you’re allowing yourself to burn out. Play an instrument, find a good book, exercise, spend time with your family. Find a way to decompress.
Model your mission:
Let your work and involvement speak more than you do. Your dedication and consistency will draw more relevant attention than your voice.
2 Challenges I’ve Faced
Entering the jaded community
Understand that other passionate people have been putting in countless time and effort to address the issues you want to work on. Some continue with the same vigor, while others lose faith in the possibility of resolving the issue. Both can be influential. Be humble enough to know that you don’t have all the answers and be confident enough to separate yourself if necessary.
To use an analogy from Chris Rock, “sometimes you’re the leader of the band, and sometimes you play the tambourine.” Don’t be discouraged about being in the background; you’re still in the band, and your sound is needed to complete the song. Whatever role you fill, know that you belong.
1 Piece of Advice I Would Share
“Progress is a slow process, but keep improving. Slow-motion is better than no motion, keep it moving,” -Cassidy
Obstacles along your path are inevitable. You will face hardships. Situations will not always go the way you planned them to. But, so what? Keep trying and explore your potential. You’re worth it.
About the Author
Kevin Alexander and I worked together as part of the Levitt Leadership Institute’s training team at Hamilton College before and after his graduation in 2013. His commitment to his hometown Utica’s community was already apparent, as were his considerable talents. As he writes, “My name is Kevin Elijah Alexander. I am a lifelong resident of Utica, New York, and I have been working in my community for more than 15 years. I am currently a Counselor in the Opportunity Programs Department of Utica College. I am a writer, musician, and the proudest father of two amazing young ladies who will one day change the world.”
This article is a part of the Marketplace of Leadership Stories series.
- What is your current project and why does it matter to you?
- What is working in your efforts to avoid burn-out?
- How are you modeling your mission?