I love to work. I’ve had jobs since I was 16, working almost every day of my life since then. I’ve never felt burned out…until recently when I got overwhelmed talking about a minor issue. I’m not even sure that was “burnout,” but what I am sure about is that leading the Digital NEST for the past nine years has taken a toll. Then it hit me – maybe now would be a good time to take a break.
I’m deeply honored to have been selected as one of seven executive directors for a grant from the nonprofit All Stars Helping Kids to participate in a much-needed sabbatical program. The program, the first of its kind, will give me a rare opportunity to take seven weeks, from July to late-August, with the orders that I’m not permitted to work, including writing, participating on Boards, or communicating with anyone at Digital NEST. The experience will include an executive coach for me and an organizational coach to support the NEST team during the period leading up to my sabbatical, during and as I transition back to work. I’ll get to build relationships with and learn from my sabbatical colleagues who are doing great work in communities across the Bay Area while the NEST team is coached to grow.
This will be the longest period of my life that I won’t have worked, and I’ll feel like I’m missing out. But I strongly believe in the value of learning and am fortunate that I’ll gain knowledge from expert executive coaches and the sabbatical program management team. The program is also designed to benefit the entire NEST team – giving staffers the opportunity to expand their own leadership. They’re already amazing, but this program will allow them to spread their wings. They’ll receive support from the sabbatical coaches and our Board of Directors during my absence.
While I’m out, I’ll get to experience life outside the NEST, which will be a big change for me. For the past nine years, I’ve started my days at 5:30 a.m. plugging away at emails and being productive, with my family alongside and supporting me the entire time. I’ll get to spend more time with my wife who has been a major force in developing and growing the NEST, including coming up with the name, and to celebrate our 20th anniversary together. I’ll see my middle of three kids head off to CalFire in San Diego and take my youngest, and the last at home, to her softball games without the rush to get there on time. We’ll finish repairing our house from the floods earlier this year. I’ll exercise. And maybe I’ll read some non-leadership books, which have been the only content I’ve consumed for over a decade.
While I’ll miss the good stuff always buzzing about at the NEST like new projects, new hires, talking to colleagues, seeing youth excel, checking out new NEST sites, and talking with donors – I’ll have time to re-energize for what feels like what will be NEST 2.0: the launch of our new program model in the fall, the opening of two more NEST centers, our new leadership team, planning our 10-year celebration for 2024 (Can you believe it will be 10 years?), and strategizing how we’ll reach communities beyond the Bay.
This sabbatical makes good business, and personal sense, making this a perfect time to take a break, to reflect on how I show up at the NEST and how my priorities and leadership need to evolve, and what I’ve been holding where others can lead. The NEST is now bigger than I am and has a long, sustainable road ahead..
See you in a few weeks, energized and more committed than ever to help more young people realize their dreams.