A month or so go I saw an announcement for KATALYST 2014, an adult adoptee leadership conference. I am totally into leadership training and personal development. Naturally, when I saw this conference I was interested, and when I saw it advertised as geared towards teaching Korean adoptees how to use their adoptee story in their leadership I was intrigued. This year a recurring theme has been using your background and your ‘brokenness’ to positively impact others.

I immediately registered for the daylong event. I knew if I didn’t register then, the closer the conference date became the less likely I’d be to want to give up an entire day that I could be using to work on final papers and presentations.

I was right. By the time Saturday rolled around I was thinking – With only a few weeks left in the semester, I could really use this day to put in some work. On the other hand, a quieter thought was – The work is better, insights flourish, and I’m better when there’s a variety of experiences to draw from.

Of course, I went to the conference, and it was amazing. There was so much practical, motivating, and searing information my mind was on overload. Sunday I had to give myself a couple hours to decompress, and I’m still thinking through the ideas.

Overall, the key points of the conference were:

1. Identify your passion and your talents. Be aware of what you’re not.
“There’s no such thing as a well-rounded individual, but teams and partnerships should be well-rounded.”

2. Judiciously apply your talents to your passion.
“Know your genius but know your moment.”

3. Engage your life experiences (significant impacts) into your leadership.

4. Do it now.

One of the activities we did was to make a timeline of significant and positive events. It could be any timeframe – birth to now, the last few years, this year, etc. The point was to see how our talents were developed or utilized in those moments. I think it’s a good activity to get some perspective on your personal development – where you’ve been, how far you’ve come, and what you have now that you should utilize. Like Steve Jobs said, “You can’t connect the dots looking forward you can only connect them looking backwards.” I definitely encourage you to make your timeline.

I think the most important aspect of the conference was the emphasis on engaging your strengths now. We frequently get sidetracked by ‘the when.’ However, as the oft-cited quote from the children’s book The Ersatz Elevation says, “If we wait until we’re ready, we’ll be waiting for the rest of our lives.”

There were numerous valuable points, but one thing Michael Dauphinee, the conference speaker, said that resonated with me especially right now was, “If you want to change your life, change your calendar.

In a world where the emails and texts are non-stop and you’re expected to be ‘on’ all the time, it’s easy to confuse the have to-s with the need to-s. Have to-s are the external obligations – linked to other people, organizations, and position. Need to-s are the internal commitments – these are linked to values, passion, and purpose. These two aren’t necessarily at odds with one another, but sometimes they’re not aligned. The extent and magnitude of their alignment or misalignment impacts your quality of life. Make sure the need to-s are represented on your calendar. Don’t let the have to-s edge them out.

The other piece of managing your calendar is balancing energy draining and energy giving activities. “Your product will never be healthier than you are.” You have to take care of you. This is especially important for me as the semester comes to an end. I have to consciously and confidently create time to attend to myself and my health and in all aspects (mentally, physically, emotionally, spiritually)

KATALYST 2014 was an incredible experience. Not only was it information-rich, I’m sure you’ll see more mentions of it in subsequent blog posts, but I also made some great contacts with other Korean adoptees. I’m glad I had the foresight to put this on the calendar.

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