Inspiring The Future By Reflecting On The Past

Sometimes you need to look back on things to better prepare yourself for what’s on the horizon.  For instance, back in 2016, my mentor gave me and everyone on our team a handful of marbles. We were to walk around the room and place a marble in front of someone else, each marble recognizing a senior and something gratifying about them, and then share it with everyone.

Now, you may be asking, “Sami, what does this have to do with the future and the past?” The answer is simple; through this memory, one of my fellow staff members told me, “Sami, this marble is given to you out of love and passion for your future. This marble indicates that you will succeed with any university you work at. This marble will remind you that you are understanding, passionate, loving, and care for anyone you meet. This marble is your past and your future. This marble is you, forever.” Did I cry? OF COURSE I DID!  The love and sincerity that I received that night helped shape me into the professional I am today.

Later, I reflected on myself and my future after hearing what my friends had to say that night. Was I good enough to be a Resident Director? Should I pursue my Master’s? What do I want to do next? Where did I see myself three years from now? What about five or ten years from now? What is my future?

Every year since that reflection, I take a handful of those marbles I keep in my living room, and I reflect on the past year. I then write a note to myself for the future me on how to better myself in the upcoming year. The beauty of this reflection is that no one sees these notes but me. I can be completely honest with myself. There is no judgment from anyone but me. This process helps me pass along the knowledge that I have learned through the past year and hope to gain from it in the upcoming year.

Reflecting on 2021

After joining Swift Kick back in February, I thought it would be a great idea to ask the team to reflect on their past year. So, I gave them a few prompted questions to answer in hopes of sharing the results with all of you, our beloved Swift Kick Family.

What did you find most challenging this past year?

Tom – The hardest part for me this year was balancing my personal and professional lives. We made a big family move that required a ton of my time. Finding the right balance between these two is always difficult. I decided on time allocation each week based on what I was okay with letting go of and not getting done. I also thought about how I’d feel if I looked back on that time. 

Jay – The most difficult challenge for me this past year was working while Tom traveled. August and September is our busiest season. Not only was Tom traveling, however, he was also in the process of moving into a new home.

Sami – This has been a whirlwind of a year for me. Not only was I recovering from surgery, however, I also started a new job here at Swift Kick AND moved twice. So it was challenging yet exciting to begin my new chapter(s).

What was one of your most powerful memories from this past year?

Tom – The first time I boarded a flight in over 18 months was both comfortable and surreal at the same time. I was flying weekly in my pre-covid years, and in-flight was a second home. I was excited to “come back home,” but at the same time, it didn’t excite me the same as in the past. Covid shifted my priorities, and flying weekly doesn’t fit the same way it did in the past. 

Jay – During a virtual retreat we had a few months ago, one of our activities was learning to communicate with sign language. It was very nice to learn about a whole new community and have the ability to ask any questions we had. Also, it was my first time talking to someone with a hearing disability. It was wonderful getting to know them and learning about their community.

Sami – My most powerful memory from 2021 was feeding my butterflies and doing something for myself. It was an emotional and challenging decision to make a leap of faith and move jobs. It was difficult to leave my staff, however, I knew Swift Kick was for me. When I interned here years ago, I always knew I wanted it to be my forever professional home. 

What was the most important thing you learned this past year personally?

Tom – I learned that making sure someone is being heard can almost be more powerful than actually solving the issue at hand. As humans, we spend far too much time waiting to talk vs. actually listening to the other person. 

Jay – Using sign language and learning the different techniques with this language was very touching for me.  

Sami – Sometimes, it’s important to put yourself first.

What Swift Kick core value resonated with you the most this past year?

Tom – I often thought about Play To Win (PTW) this past year, but probably not for the reasons you might think. Because of the significant life shifts I had this past year, I knew I wasn’t going to be able to give it my all for some projects. That meant I wasn’t going to be “Playing To Win” material and I was conscious about that reality. So while I strive to PTW, I found some comfort in consciously deciding when I was able to and when I wasn’t. 

Jay – Raise The Tide is my go-to this past year. In 2021, we welcomed Sami back to the Swift Kick Family, Tom’s travel season flourished again, and he moved into a new home! With him being gone a lot, I was able to pick up some projects to help him and help Sami feel welcome, connected, and engaged with the team. 

Sami – Feed Your Butterflies is a huge core value for me this past year. I took a leap of faith and began a new career. I left (for the most part) higher education and joined the Swift Kick team. While we still work closely with Higher Ed. folk, It was still a vast shift with responsibilities and tasks.

Our Predictions for 2022

Tom – I believe 2022 will bring a sense of sustainable growth for Swift Kick and me. For the most part, there shouldn’t be any significant life shifts like we had in 2021. That means I can focus on growing Swift Kick and serving our community without having to make tough decisions on how to best use my time. I also love each new year because there tends to be some sort of surprise that pushes Swift Kick forward beyond what we were expecting. So I’m looking forward to seeing what that surprise will be!

Jay – Getting back on track with everything is my goal in 2022. With all the changes that happened this past year, from Sami joining the team and Tom moving, I predict in 2022 we will move forward and grow. I’m not saying that things won’t get in the way, but what I am saying is that I am hopeful for an even better year to come. 

Sami – I predict that 2022 will bring joyful challenges and a year of Big Wins for the Swift Kick Team. I am an optimist, which means I am hoping for the best, however, I understand things get in the way. Therefore, predictions are hard for me to make because you never know what will happen 365 days from now.

Three Ways YOU Can Inspire The Future:

  • Insight/Knowledge – Pass it down! Let your team know what you know. To be a great leader is to share what you know about your company and projects with your team. This way, not only are you growing your team and putting trust in them by teaching them how you run things – whereas you are also lightening your work responsibilities by trusting your team to do the right thing.
  • Patience – We all know the famous saying, “Patience is key.” When going into 2022, remember that you never know what is going on in someone else’s life. Your team is not made of robots, they are humans. If you don’t know by now, one of our favorite sayings is  #HumansNeedHumans. This means we are all there for one another – helping others is something we do, helping others is something we as humans should cherish.
  • Self-Care – Self-care is one of the most important things to offer your team. If you can, maybe once a month, do something with your team that gets them out of their seats. Go for a walk outside, take a longer lunch break and bond over your favorite sushi, do anything that can relax your team. In the long run, it will help with positive vibes and self-love. 

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