From the Podium
Becoming a Healthier Version of Me
The theme of this Spring UPDATE Magazine is “Peak Performance Through Healthy Leadership Habits.” How could I possibly know anything about health leadership habits? Have you met me?
A few years ago, the school ID badge I was issued said “Jane Bush.” Even though I received a new badge with my correct name, as a joke, I sometimes wore the “Jane” badge on my lanyard because my story was that Jane was the “kinder, gentler Jan Bush.” But due to two years of difficult and contentious bargaining with our teacher’s union and a teachers strike, I didn’t wear it often. The strike was brutal and I took it very personally. One of my board members asked about Jane, and I said, “Jane is dead. They killed her.”
In the middle of all of this, in June 2019 at the Illinois ASBO Board Retreat, Dr. Dean Romano, incoming Illinois ASBO President for 2019-2020, challenged the group in attendance to write on a notecard something we wanted to accomplish at the end of the year and put it in a sealed envelope. He challenged us to “find our clarity.”
If you know me at all, you know that I am the job. My husband and I have had an empty nest since early 2015, and I allowed my work to consume me and I put my all into what I have described as “my dream job” and into serving on the Illinois ASBO Board.
In March of 2020, at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, my mother passed away suddenly. I was just figuring out how to deal with my grief when the pandemic hit me with fear, isolation, anger, frustration and a lot of uncertainty. Then in January 2021, I moved in with my father to care for him due to complications from COVID. One day I caught myself saying that COVID took two and a half months of my life from me because I had to live with my dad. But then it hit me like a ton of bricks. Clarity. What was in the sealed envelope when I opened it at the 2020 board retreat? “Be in the moment.”
In reality, COVID has been a blessing for me. I had the privilege of caring for both my mother and father. We spent quality time together and I realized that I had been given a gift — the gift of time. My clarity was to be in the moment. To be Jane, the kinder and gentler Jan Bush. None of the other stuff matters. Do not blink or you will miss all the good stuff. I still love my job; it is still my dream job and I still love Illinois ASBO. But I do not give my job and Illinois ASBO all I have like I used to. I now give my job and Illinois ASBO everything I have LEFT after I give my time and energy to my family.
My advice about work/life balance and healthy leadership? Be like Jane and be in the moment.