Professional Reflections From My Birthday
By the time you read this, I will have attained another year of life on this planet. I usually keep birthdays quiet. While I live in Indiana, one of the nicest birthdays I ever had was in my West Virginia hometown of Charleston, where my sister hosted a surprise birthday party for me with special friends and relatives. My daughter contacted a variety of people from my past, many of whom I had not heard from in decades. Each person wrote a letter that reflected my relationship with them at a certain stage in my life. One person went to school with me in the fifth grade and moved to Arizona after that year, for example. I cherish that birthday book.
If you know me, I am always on fast speed except for one time a year; that is my birthday, when I find alone time to examine where I have been and where I am possibly going on my professional trajectory. The older I get, the deeper and more intense my reflections become as I look in the mirror. I want share my professional reflections with you from this birthday, as I believe this process is important to one’s growth and development in the nonprofit sector.
I first look at my current nonprofit job. I note how long I have worked at the position and do a personal SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) analysis. I note what has made me happy in the position and what has made me unhappy in the position over the past year. I constantly attempt to note what I can do to improve my job performance going forward and what elements I can change that will positively affect me and my team.
I next look at other nonprofit related activities. For example, I write blogs for NonProfit PRO and other entities as time allows. I serve on several nonprofit organizations to enhance the profession. I speak to nonprofit audiences from time to time. I read and critique publications written by others at their request. I serve my church and mentor young professionals. I suggest that you look at what possibilities exist for you and can expand your wings as a professional.
I also take advantage of new opportunities to assist the nonprofit profession whenever possible. The question of reflection relates to activities you want to continue doing each year. Over the years, many non-job related activities may force you to constantly run on a trend mill. You have to evaluate if you want to recharge and refresh your batteries by trying something new.
I finally look at myself from a personal point-of-view. I call this the body, mind and spirit question analysis. Am I in the best physical condition possible? I try to determine if I need to work out more, lose weight, sleep more effectively, eat correctly what steps are needed to give me more energy to improve my body. I also ask myself what I can do to enhance my memory and sharpen my mental skills that will improve my mind. Our jobs take a great deal out of us. Think about what you can do to reduce stress and be proactive instead of reactive.
I ask myself if there are ways I can refocus my spirituality that will relieve my stress and improve my view of the world. As we take our car into the shop for repairs or preventative maintenance over time, as we age all of us need to examine our total focus. We need to realize we cannot maintain the same historical speed and we have to pace ourselves.
I hope everyone enjoys their birthday. It is the only day they can own each year. Use that moment to look at your past, present and future. We are only given a finite number of trips around the sun. Enjoy every day and make the most of life. Keep a positive attitude and servant leader spirit. Trust me, the older you get the faster life will zoom by over time.
I have so enjoyed my career choice of working in the nonprofit sector. I hope I have helped other nonprofit executives along the way. I enjoyed my birthday reflection and look forward to an interesting upcoming year! Consider self-evaluation and contemplation on your birthday. It is a great positive exercise to undertake!
Duke has extensive experience as a nonprofit practitioner, author, lecturer and consultant. He has been a contributing author to NonProfit PRO for the last 11 years. He has been a long-standing member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals where he was previously named the AFP Indiana Chapter Fundraising Executive of the Year and has held the CFRE designation for many years.
He received his doctorate degree from West Virginia University with an emphasis in education administration, master's degree from Marshall University with an emphasis in public administration and a bachelor's degree from West Virginia University with an emphasis in marketing/management. He has also completed post graduate work at the University of Louisville.
He is currently executive director of development for The Salvation Army Indiana Division in Indianapolis, IN plus Adjunct Professor for Olivet Nazarene University. Contact Duke at firstname.lastname@example.org or 317-224-1029.