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Flying at 34,000ft

Jewish leaders – I’m in awe.

Over the past few years, you’ve caught curveball after curveball, showing tremendous resilience as you reinvented yourselves time and again.

You’ve shown massive strength.

Yet there’s something that can make you stronger still.

All Jewish leaders who built something significant in the past century had (at least) one trait in common: a deep, conscious connection to their core purpose.

What is your core purpose? It’s the mesh of experiences, values and beliefs that explains why you’ve taken on the specific role you fill.

Leaders strongly connected to their core purpose are unstoppable. Challenges can’t get past the armor of their sense of mission.

These leaders can also make especially compelling cases to donors. Encountering such concrete values and ideas, donors respect and trust their causes.

How does this work? And how can YOU strengthen your connection to your core purpose?

Start by breaking the concept into three key components:

  1. Your Story
  2. Your Vision
  3. Your Plan


Your Story

Why did you take on this role? What drove you into Jewish leadership? What made you choose this particular type of Klal work? What personal experiences led you down this path?

Did you watch a sibling struggle with a school system that didn’t have room for him? Did that make you promise yourself you’d build a yeshivah where uniqueness was celebrated and each boy given the space to be himself?

Did you watch your parents dedicate everything they had – and then some – to support the yungerleit in your father’s kollel? Did that spark a passion in you to follow in their footsteps?

Was your life transformed by a kiruv program back in college? To give back, have you chosen to open your own kiruv initiative?

Remembering your story arms you with more strength, more confidence, to fight for what you believe in.

Your story also makes you fascinating. When people ask, “What do you do?”, your story provides far stronger connective “glue” than a simple explanation of your job.

Sharing your story helps you come across as real. Confident in your role. 100% committed to your beliefs.

Which builds tremendous trust in would-be donors’ eyes.

Need some help clarifying your story?

Ask yourself these three questions:

  • What personal experiences led you to do what you do?
  • Why is your work important to you?
  • Why is [whatever you just answered] important to you (dig a little deeper. There’s more to discover)?


Your Vision

What’s your end goal? What are the ultimate achievements you’d like to make in your role?

Keeping your vision at the forefront of your mind benefits you in many ways. Firstly, you’ll gain a boost of chizzuk. The clearer you are on what you’re shooting towards, the more wherewithal you’ll have to fight against challenges.

Yes, the future might be unclear. But if your vision is, you have a much greater chance of achieving your goals.

And your donors? At this time, they’re prioritizing. Who deserves my support? Which organizations should I focus on?

If you can communicate your vision clearly, you move your organization’s name to become amongst their “top” list of mosdos they support.

Need some help putting your vision into words? These questions are a good starting point:

  • If failure was impossible and money not an issue, what is the boldest level of achievement you can imagine reaching?
  • What does this vision look like in more detail? Set a timer for ten minutes and write about it. Let the words flow without worrying about order or sense.


Your Plan

Your plan, of course, is your concrete map for making your vision happen.

What’s so helpful about a plan?

Plans focus you. They give you clarity on the steps you need to take to move forward. When the going gets tough, having those steps mapped out allows you to doggedly put one foot in front of the other while others are blown off course.

And, when your donors see a thorough plan, they see a thought-out leader who means business.

Now, thorough doesn’t need to mean long. Your “plan” should ideally fit on one page or less. It can be limited to the near future - say, the next six months or so. It exists simply to provide you with the clarity you need to move forward.

Some questions to help you construct your plan:

  • If your efforts were fully funded, what would you plan to achieve in the next few years?
  • What dollar amount does “fully funded” equal?
  • In bullet points, what would you need to do to “fully fund” yourself for the next six months?

There you have it - your SVP formula for increased strength and success as a leader. Which aspect of it will you work on today?

K'siva v'chasima tova.


© Avraham Lewis & Co.