The Spirit of the Work

By Darren Buford
[Editor's Note]

A few months ago, I had the good fortune to attend several weeks of leadership training at the University of Denver. The program was special because I was able to learn from several renowned professors and intimately bond with 16 like-minded professionals during the 10-day course. While there was valuable theory about approaches to work strategies and leadership, the aspects of the class that made the largest impression upon me were the lessons in self-reflection and self-awareness.
Through the class, I was able to recognize in myself several traits that were personally and professionally impeding progress. I had become a pacesetter (working faster motivates everyone, right!?) who took on other people’s monkeys (sure, add that to my pile of to-dos!), often working in a self-created environment full of distractions (I’ll just carve out those easy tasks first; those bigger projects look scary), all contributing to a poor work-life balance (vacation, what’s that?).
Coming to terms with these self-assessments could have been disempowering and debilitating; rather, I chose to shine a light on my imperfections as a chance to hit the reset button. At the conclusion of the course, I was asked two questions: What did I learn? What will I teach others?
Following are the most impactful lessons I took away from my experience; not only were they applicable to me, but I relay them here because I think you may find them pertinent to your practice, in your interaction with clients, and in your relationship with other practitioners.
• Communicate often, with transparency and vulnerability
• Be fully present
• Let go of stress, ego, and distractions
• Never stop learning
• Stretch yourself beyond what you think is possible
• Remain creative and open to possibilities
• Speak with compassion and empathy
• Listen more than you speak
• Don’t be afraid to fail
• Enjoy the freedom to play

… and most importantly …

• Embrace the spirit of the work

I hope you enjoy this issue and the spirit of the work you’ll find inside from those just as passionate about our profession as you.

Darren Buford