Given this introduction, you can probably conclude that I have two major passions in life: athletics and nonprofit leadership. These pursuits are actually quite similar and reinforcing. Let me briefly offer some reasons why.
Both keep me active. I’m what you could call a study in perpetual motion—physically and mentally. If I’m not competing in golf, squash, platform tennis, skiing or sailboat racing, I’m probably busy with my volunteer duties for the numerous nonprofits I serve. All this activity keeps me focused, sharpens my concentration, helps me set goals and priorities, and ultimately improves my performance. Thomas Jefferson said, “It is wonderful how much may be done if we are always doing.” By keeping active, I’m better able to compete effectively and to help advance the nonprofit organizations I love so much.
Both instill and reinforce values. Any athlete will tell you that competition teaches you important values such as sportsmanship, perseverance, discipline and, in team sports, teamwork. It also promotes honesty and integrity. In my primary sport, golf, you’ll often see players calling penalties on themselves, even when it might cost them a tournament. Squash and tennis players make similar calls on their own shots. Such actions breed character. These values stem from an appetite for continuous improvement and self-evaluation, as well as a willingness to accept constructive criticism. I find these values especially relevant to my nonprofit work, in which we’re all striving for the same goal, thrive on evaluation and improvement, embrace integrity, and persevere often in the face of challenging odds. Nonprofit leadership might therefore be the ultimate “team sport.”
Both provide an opportunity to leave a legacy. In addition to competing as an athlete, I’ve also been a youth sports coach for 23 years, which I find incredibly exhilarating and rewarding. It affords me the chance to pass on what I’ve learned to a new generation, instilling in kids the values I hold so dear. As a coach, I’d give my players Dentyne ICE gum as a reminder that to be successful in sports and in life you must have Intensity, Concentration, and Execution. And as a nonprofit volunteer and leader, I know that my work can have a profound influence not only on the organization and the people we serve but on future generations as well. What more powerful legacy could we hope to achieve than to improve the lives of those around us and those who will follow us?
So…did we win the Ann Taylor Green Cup back from Canada? I’m thrilled to report that we indeed did. The victory was sweet, but more important was the camaraderie between the two teams and, by extension, our two nations. I was happy to have the opportunity to help the U.S. win, much as I look forward to many opportunities to help our nonprofit clients succeed.
If you want to discuss tactics for inspiring the leadership of your own organization, you can reach me at 513.241.6778 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Skystone Partners is proud to introduce Sarah “Sally” Leyman, our new Director of Business Development & Consulting. Before joining Skystone, Sally served as a trustee on The Seven Hills School Board, where she chaired the Development Committee and served on the Trusteeship and Marketing Committees. Sally also has served in board positions for The Cincinnati Opera Guild, Kee-Way-Din Ski Club, Barrett Center Think Pink Lunch, Harbor Point Association Board in Harbor Springs, Michigan, and Greater Cincinnati Paddle Tennis Association. Currently she serves on the Cincinnati Zoo Foundation Board, the Cincinnati Squash Advisory Board, and Greater Cincinnati Golf Association Course Rating Committee. Sally chairs The John Wooden Citizenship Cup and has previously headed the Development Committee of Athletes for a Better World, in Atlanta.
A longtime athlete and coach, Sally is a board member of the U.S. Women’s Senior Golf Association and captained the United States team against Canada in the Association’s annual championship tournament, held September 18-20 in Manchester, Vermont. This friendly competition for the Anne Taylor Green Cup has been waged every three years since 1928.
Find out below if Sally and her team were able to wrest the cup from Canada.
by Sally Leyman
To enjoy past issues of Giving Thoughts, click here.