I had an hour and a half long conversation with a Dukie the other day, who pushed me to answer new questions! I love those conversations as they are so real and help us become better people, teachers, and learners.
Sinclair’s question was, “You have a certain energy that inspires and drives people to action. How do you cultivate it, and how do you maintain it?”
I don’t think there’s any surefire answer here. But here’s what I said: Dear Sinclair, what a lovely question to ask, and one that is important for all of us. First, I will say that I find you equally motivating. It’s just that we have different personalities. For example, I might be more enthusiastically inspired, but you are more quietly and grounded inspired. Thus we are drawn together, as I might bring a higher energy and you bring a special stillness. Does that make sense?
Sinclair, there are many different types of leadership. Just because someone seems more extroverted and external with it, doesn’t mean that’s the only type of leadership. Leadership can be about quietness, about listening, and even about knowing when to pause. To be a great leader, you need to master all communication skills, which include when to speak, how to speak, what the tone is, and when not to speak. It also includes body language, and most importantly, it includes your inner values and soul.
“So how then do you stay authentic with who you are?”
The words authenticity and transparency comes up a lot these days, and I appreciate it. As we become more oriented around machines, computers, iPads, phones, and the social media explosion of Vine, no Vine, Instagram, Snapchat—it disappears, Pinterest—Facebook—Twitter—former Friendster; it becomes very confusing. Our identities need to be aligned. So here’s what I do, and it’s a constant quest every day. Leadership isn’t something you attain and let go. Leadership is something you believe in, live, and maintain. That’s what makes life so exciting!
Remember these tips are only from me. You might find that other people have a different view. In order to stay authentic, I keep my priorities very clear. I know that my life calling is to be the best Pamela Hawley I can be, not just to deliver the best UniversalGiving. Therefore, I have to take a higher view than just my profession, my job, or even a calling. Even with a calling, you still have to put your identity and your values first. So how do I do that? First, you need to know that UniversalGiving comes third in my life. Yes, that’s right. As much as I love it, as much as it is my calling and not a job, it comes third in my life. So I’m going to be pretty naked here, and let you know how my life works.
#1. God, Love, and/or Nature
I believe in a governing force of good for our universe. That means our universe is run based on certain principles that are loving, kind, and filled with integrity. Some people call that God, some people call it Love (it’s not just human love), and some people may relate to it as nature. The point is that there is a law of options going on in the universe that allows for the greatest good to occur. It’s our job to hook into it, work with it, and accelerate as much good as we can in our lifetimes. That will then pass onto others and reflect the true goodness that exists in this universe. Our foundation of the world and ourselves is based on goodness, and we need to pay more attention to that, rather than all of the nuisances, annoyances, negative suggestions, negative thoughts, and challenging interactions we have with personalities. You can make that a huge part of reality or you can go back to your view of a loving universe, and make that your focus. So you have to train your mind and heart, in God or Love, every day, every moment.
#2. Family (…and Friends)
Family is absolutely essential. It’s where we attain a sense of peace, grounding, and comfort. I know for myself, I grew up with a mom who baked me chocolate chip cookies, sat with me after school in second grade, and listened to me. We did workbooks together, we talked about life, and I felt she was always there for me. To this day, if I call her, ninety percent of the time she picks up the phone; she’s present. She’s family, and she’s my grounding, as are many other members of my family.
Family extends into many areas. For example, with my nephews and nieces, I was fortunate enough to take care of them many Saturday nights when they were growing up. I got them at the “meltdown” phase at around 3 o’clock and spent the night. I learned a lot! I bonded with them in ways I cannot even imagine. Today? I just called Connor, my 17-year-old nephew, to congratulate him on his soccer game. Maybe not so many teenagers would pick up their aunt’s call, but he does, and we have a conversation even if he’s in the middle of building a creative project for school. We just have that connection.
I really don’t see the point in life of being this major “success” if you don’t have that family to share it with. A family to inspire you, a family that you inspire. And with that, there’s a sense of peace. You know where you come from, you know what your values are, and when the world gets too heavy, you can go home to that values, whether that’s in a physical structure, or in your heart. It’s irreplaceable.
Equally important are friends. Those friends are absolutely a part of your family network. I have friends with whom I have standing weekly or monthly meetings. For example, my “second moms” are women who were a very important part of my life growing up. I have monthly or quarterly lunches set up with them. I don’t want to take them for granted and just see them at the holiday party. I want to know how they are, hear how they are, and support them as they have supported me. It’s a true, ongoing relationship rather than a once-a-year fond remembrance.
I don’t have a job—I have a calling! Every day I get up, I love what I do. I love being a social entrepreneur, and I love serving the world. I love volunteering, and I love helping scale the fact that thousands of other people can volunteer. So for me, it’s just a constant flow of doing good for the world, and helping my team do that, as well as reach their best. In summary, UniversalGiving helps people donate and volunteer in hundreds of countries across the world.
Within that, I also rope in my volunteer events. I’m a consistent volunteer at City Impact, helping in the Tenderloin with everything from passing out food, doing apartment visits, to preparing Thanksgiving meals. I’m also a C.A.S.A., a Court-Appointed Special Advocate, which is a legal advocate for foster care youth who are often on the street. You work with them on a weekly, and sometimes daily basis to make sure they have food, housing, a listening ear, eyeglasses, job training, and whatever they might need. Many of them have had little or no training or modeling their entire life, so a lot of what you do also works on just helping them with social skills, and teaching them how to survive in the world.
How I love improv! And you might think, “Well, how does this tie into the rest?” Improv is an incredible joy. It allows you to connect with your fellow actors on stage, and to be a true partner.
It requires great creativity and quick thinking. It equally requires great listening and taking the back seat. It’s about sharing.
It’s about building. It’s about creating a scene from nothing. And in order to do that, you have to have absolute trust with your partner.
And isn’t that what life is? Sometimes you have to respond immediately, you always have to listen, and you need to be a great friend or partner in life—whether that’s in business, a marriage, or a friendship. So it actually synergizes. But even if it doesn’t, it’s so much fun! You should have things like that in your life, that seem opposite to everything else you do. As my oma, one of the greatest flutists in our generation, and the first woman at Juilliard for flute said, “You need to get out there and kick up your heels once in awhile!” She was an extremely hard-worker and helped support her family during the depression. Her point was, get out there and dance. Get out there and have fun. Work hard and yet, live a little.
So, Sinclair, I’m not sure this fully answered your question, but this is how I try to maintain my true self and identity in life. Thank you for asking such an important question, and I hope this helps you in your journey!