With two toddlers and a recent promotion, Sara Koch’s life as a good leader is sometimes overwhelming.
Sara brings her sons to luncheons with members of the LSS volunteer corps as a way of blending important elements of her life.
At Lutheran Social Service, Sara oversees seniors who volunteer to support other seniors and children around the Twin Cities. One day, Sara asked one of those volunteers, an elderly woman from the Soviet Union, what motivates her. The woman looked at Sara and said, “You are my motivation. You are our heart, you are our stimulus.”
Top 100 Moments
Moments like that keep Sara focused on her mission of making people’s lives better. She’s a recent graduate of Good Leadership Training, and she shared a strategy that she learned in the program. “Since Training, I’ve started recording my ‘Top 100’ moments. Silly things my sons say, meaningful experiences at work, or great family time.” She hadn’t practiced much deep, self-reflection before completing Training exercises like the Personal Visioning Worksheet, or the Seven Fs Wheel, a tool to measure satisfaction in Faith, Family, Finances, Fitness, Friends, Fun, and Future. Keeping a record of her Top 100 helps her incorporate small doses of self-reflection into every day.
One of the LSS volunteers, Grandma Catherine Lombel (right), recently celebrated her 20th anniversary with the LSS Foster Grandparent Program – and Sara was there to help honor her.
Many moments on Sara’s list are from working with volunteers at Lutheran Social Service. “One member of our Volunteer Corps had nearly-fatal medical issues, and I stayed close to her through all of it. She told me, ‘Your concern was the medicine for my pain.’” Sara sees her professional mission as being generous with time and effort in the community, and Training affirmed those goals. “Recording the amazing interactions I have with volunteers reminds me that I had a hand in facilitating those moments.”
When Life Gets Overwhelming
Her recent promotion has been both exciting and overwhelming. The role requires more involvement with legislative programs, working with federal grant oversight, and managing four staff – all new responsibilities for Sara. She’s tackling the stress with tools from Training: “Our Training facilitator encouraged us to plan out each minute of our day – I’ve only gotten to each day of the week, but it’s helped me prioritize. It’s easy for me to try to do too much.”
Sara, her husband, and her boys spend family time at Afton Alps as a way of blending Family, Fitness, and Fun.
At home, Sara and her husband are raising a one-year-old and a three-year-old, and her sons are her most pure joy. Recently, she came back after a work trip, and her three-year-old said, “I’m so happy to see you mama, I missed you those two days.” Planning out her weeks and days helps her ensure that she prioritizes family time, even as she gets settled in her new position. Her mission of being generous with her time and energy applies to her family as well as her work.
Good leaders work to live their mission both personally and professionally. And they schedule their time in ways that shine the light on their priorities.