1) What do they bring to the table?

I shed a lot of unnecessary people from my life this year. I realized some of my friendships and relationships were out of habit rather than intent. At first, it seemed more painful to let them go than to let them stay. But now, I am at a point where my work-life balance is increasingly oxymoronic, and the spare time I have is seldom. With that lifestyle change, I wanted to make sure I was spending my free time with people who helped me become a better person. So I started to ask myself, what do the people I surround myself with bring to the table? What do I gain and learn from them?

The more I reflected on it, the more I realized we outgrew each other. The relationships and friendships I found myself in this year were seasonal, and as the saying goes…


2) Are you treating people how they want to be treated?

The golden rule with a twist – it is a conversation I have had with my students countless times:

Me: How would you feel in that situation? 

Student: I wouldn’t care. 

And then I found myself having the same conversation with adults, with my friends, and with myself. I found my empathy at an all-time low because I was asking the wrong question.

It doesn’t matter how I would feel in their situation because it is their situation. My focus should be on how they feel about it. Switch the framework. Switch perspectives.

Instead of putting yourself in their shoes, put themselves in their shoes. Not everyone wants to be treated the same way as you. People have the right to tell you how they want to be treated.


3) What kind of leader do you want to be?

This year I moved into a leadership position at my job, and it challenged me to think about the kind of leader I want to be. I have struggled through this leadership role because it has not come naturally to me. I have always been thought of as a natural leader, but I did not feel that way in this role.

I realized I was used to leading by example – I preferred to act independently and have others follow suit. However, this new job pushes me beyond what feels comfortable. This role challenges me to inspire others with encouragement, communication, and coaching. I learned to stop telling people what I would do in their position. I  started asking more questions that could help others understand how best to address their situation.

4) Are you making great mistakes?

This has been a mantra of mine for a while now – make great mistakes. If you’re not making mistakes, you are not challenging yourself. If you are not challenging yourself, you are not growing. If  you are not growing, what’s the point?

One of the greatest mistakes I made this year was deferring my TFA acceptance and working in Seattle another year. In hindsight I was ready to leave back in June, but staying has challenged me to grow through intention rather than necessity. I have never grown/adapted by choice as much as I have in these last 6 months.

Make great mistakes that move you from your comfort zone to your challenge zone. Make great mistakes that have you totally out of your element. Make great mistakes that propel you forward.

5) Are you filling or draining the glass?

Plain and simple: If the glass is half empty , it must also be half full. If it is half full, it must also be half empty. Frankly, that discussion is circular and pointless. Your perception of the glass doesn’t matter, but here is what does: Are you filling or draining the glass?

This question was sparked by a podcast I listened to in which Bill Clinton talks about how not voting is still a vote. If a bill passes that you don’t like and you didn’t vote, you are just as much to blame as the people who voted for it. In this case, you drained the cup of opportunity, input, and change.

I became more politically active this year than I have ever been in my life, and I intend to build on my activism each year. You might be thinking to yourself, voting doesn’t even matter. The public does not decide on the president –  it is up to the Electoral College. Which, to an extent, is correct. If you find this to be your mentality – I challenge you to dive deeper into the belly of the beast. Affect change at the highest level you can. If you hate politics, become a politician and make it better.

Do not be a victim in your own life story. 

 To put it bluntly – if you don’t vote, you don’t matter. It is that passive mindset that perpetually drains a glass. Instead, fill the glass in whatever ways you can. Turning a blind eye to politics is ignoring your civic duty as a citizen of democracy. More than anything, ignoring the political state of our country and our world is a system of white privilege. You are affected. Your voice matters – if not for yourself, then for those who don’t have one.

In summary, Hill – I love you. Let’s get a marg sometime.


 2016, Thnks fr th Mmrs