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Management and Leadership in Nonprofits

Management and Leadership in Nonprofits


Professional development: Tales from a life-long learner

Jul 08, 2020
By: Tammy T. Jelinek

As leaders, we are life-long learners whether we want to be or not. Some lessons are positive and expected, other lessons knock us on our … and are not so pleasant. We learn (hopefully) something from all of them.

I often tease my team that I only like surprises with cake — well, cupcakes to be precise because of the frosting to cake ratio. Therefore, learnings by surprise — specifically unpleasant surprises — are not my preference. No surprise there (yep, pun intended).

When it comes to learning, I like to be thoughtful about it. When I am feeling stuck, unfulfilled with my career results or just feeling the need to grow, I turn to learning. Some thoughtful planned learning includes:

  • Attend a conference
  • Attend a seminar
  • Read a book
  • Reread a book or notes from the past
  • Brainstorm
  • Meditate

Some of it is more reactionary — however, I need to be open to react. Here are examples. Maybe a colleague:

  • Shares a book suggestion
  • Forwards an article
  • Requests to brainstorm an idea
  • Stops by my office (and right now that means IMing me in chat) and asks about something

If we are so busy that we are not open to the reaction options, what could we be missing? When someone you trust suggests something, check it out. You never know what you will learn.


Tammy T. Jelinek, MBA
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