I didn’t come up with the idea for the three words. But I know a good idea when I see one. This one comes from consultant Chris Brogan, who has been coming up with his Three Words for over ten years now. The three words frame the “big story” for the year. They simply and powerfully provide a framework for prioritizing decisions and approaches to work and vision in the New Year.
When in doubt, I can turn to my three words and say, does this activity align with my three words? Does it help me grow in this area?
Here are my three words, and what they remind me about my purpose.
Passion and Creativity
Passion and Creativity are intertwined for me. It is a passion to help others that drives me, but the creativity to develop solutions is what gives real life, practical applications that have allowed me to help my family and my community.
When I was seventeen I worked in the Chicago Boys Club Resident Camp as a counselor. I experienced such joy in helping children from the inner city of Chicago learn new skills, make friends and enjoy the camp setting. It gave me great happiness when I was helpful with problem solving, listening to them talk about their life back home.
After serving in the U.S. Army for 16 months upon graduation from high school, I went to George William College to get a BA in group work and a Master’s Degree in Social Work from the University of Illinois.
All of these life experiences helping children and serious academic learning enabled me to grow a great passion to want to do this as a way of life. As my passion deepened I also found that I became very skillful in understanding personal problems and creating solutions to work toward solving the underlying problems that get in the way of people truly connecting with one another.
I then found that I could create ideas and programs to circumvent or even avoid problems in life experiences. I could put this skill into action when I was the General Director of the Jewish Community Centers of Chicago for 18 years. I never saw JCC as a job it was always and opportunity to put my passion and creativity into place.
In a touching tribute, a senior member of my management team once shared:
“A leader needs the ability to develop and communicate a vision that others can share and eventually and own. A leader has to provide the resources to carry out that vision. Lastly the effective leader brings people up to their highest potential. From what I have read observed and experienced it is this leadership trait that yields the greatest personal reward and satisfaction. For Jerry Witkovsky it is a satisfaction very richly deserved.”
I’m not always successful, but my passion to try has never lessened and my creativity linked to the passion has led me to do some exciting things in my family and in the community.
When I say commitment, I mean a commitment to what I believe in, regardless of the negative reaction from family or friends. My commitment to myself is to be as clear and learned as I can be and not to be afraid to ask for help when I need it.
I will be 90 years old in March. I attend weekly lectures at Northwestern University, where tenured professors share updates and discussions on their research and work. My passion for a strong and connected family for me and for all grandparents drives my continued work to set up Grandparent Connection school programs at public and private schools (contact me to see how you can do this at your school).
My mind continues to grow and my ideas continue to spread. This year it will be fueled by a passion, creativity and commitment that is unstoppable.