Last summer I had a unique opportunity. I was granted a sabbatical from my post as Executive Director for three months. I had no prescribed course to follow regarding furthering my education (although I did some of that) or advancing my professional career through researching other organizations or models of service (not much happened there). I could set my own agenda, report to no one (sorry, that’s never true!) and focus my attention on very different pursuits of my own choosing.
Both in anticipation and in practice, what came to the fore were many “r” words. I suppose the first to come to mind is “rest.” Interestingly, for anyone who has been focused on something for a long time (in my case, more than thirty-eight years at Roundup), that didn’t mean stop doing everything. Instead, I found that pursuing other things – and remaining equally focused – could still be restful and rewarding at the same time. Everyone needs a sense of accomplishment, whether professionally or personally. I found out that I needed to accomplish something every day even if it was very different from what I normally did at work.
Moving out of the work environment allowed more time for reflection as well. Being too close to what one does often kept me from appropriately reflecting on where I was as a person, where we were as an organization, and how our future should rightfully be viewed. The time away gave me perspective on my role and the fact that at some future time, someone else will be seated in the Executive Director’s chair, plotting the course of Roundup Fellowship.
Much more happened during those three months that won’t be reported on now. I will mention, though, that I did return renewed. Renewal can come from various insights or experiences and I was blessed with the opportunity to travel and find myself in some new and very challenging circumstances. That caused me to understand that challenge, in many ways, is at the heart of renewal. I could renew my personal mission and continue to function in a fast-paced, people centered environment where service to others is a way of life. I still like it!