Sarah Rubinson Consulting and Contracting is one year old!
While there were (and continue to be) a variety of key milestones along the way, I consider October 2022 to be the launch of SRCC and the beginning of this adventure.
As a reflective practitioner, I build in opportunities for intentional reflection into my life, both personally and professionally, and use those reflective to plan for the future.
In thinking about the first year of SRCC, a few key reflections emerge:
I still don’t really know what I do, and that’s okay.
When I launched, I really wanted to have a clear understanding of exactly what it is that I did and wanted to be able to articulate that to others in a short, clear way that anyone could and would understand through some sort of transformation statement or verbal message or whatnot. I’ve gone through different iterations of wording such as, “I empower excellence and innovation in Jewish education,” which kind of gets there, but is also still pretty vague. I think I am getting closer, both to having an understanding of what I do and whom I serve and in being able to articulate. And it’s okay that I am not there. It’s a work in progress.
I really love what I do.
While I may not be able to clearly and succinctly articulate what it is that I do, I know I love it. During the summer of 2022, I was in a place of career transition. We had closed Einstein Academy, and I had no idea what was next for me. I was in a state of existential exhaustion and just tired in every way possible and considered leaving both Jewish education specifically and education as a whole. I’m really glad that I didn’t. Over the last year, I have been so blessed to have engaged in really meaningful work. I have been able to partner with really passionate people doing really cool things. I have had the opportunity to push myself and learn new things and grow. And I can genuinely say that I really love what I do.
Investing in myself is an investment in my business.
Parallel to building a business over the last year, I have gone all-in on myself. I have committed to sleeping eight hours a night, drinking 100 ounces of water, integrating movement into my day (I follow a schedule of walking or running each day in addition to yoga and resistance weight training), and feeding my mind with content that enhances and strengthens my mindset. I know this prioritizing of my mental and physical well-being makes me a better version of myself, and that is the version that shows up for my clients. I am patient and creative and present in a way that I wasn’t when I was waking up at 2 pm to work and just in survival mode. I bring an energy of possibility and joy in a way that was lacking when I was lacking. I feel empowered, and I can use that to empower those around me.
And a few key learnings:
Focus on where I have control and be open to the universe.
Being an entrepreneur scares me. I am a planner who likes to have everything in my control, so the idea of not knowing when and from where my next paycheck will come is a little daunting. The idea of being ultimately in charge of everything in the business brings about both feelings of excitement and pressure. The idea that, while I am a solopreneur (business of one) at this point, but still rely on others for so much related to the success of my business, can be challenging. So, I focus on what I can control. I have control over my thoughts, feelings, and actions. I can control my systems and daily habits. I can control my discipline and consistency. And I just have to surrender in other areas. Potential clients may not accept my proposal for a variety of reasons, and I can’t control their decisions. People may not follow my timelines, and I can’t control that. The world may break out in way, and I can’t control that. My job is to maximize my areas of control and just trust the universe beyond that.
Plan and be prepared to pivot
Did I mention that I am a planner? I know I did…and I am such a planner that it is fitting to mention it again. Daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, and annual plans gives me a sense of calm that I can’t explain, but other planners will get. And there is a huge spectrum between theory and practice. My plans live in a world of theory – my planned schedule, goals, projections. In practice, however, it’s a lot more messy, and those plans often need to be adjusted (or completely rethought, depending). I still plan because it helps me operate with intention and with a direction. And, when it comes to converting to practice, I do the best I can with the resources, bandwidth, and knowledge that I have, pivoting as needed.
Action leads to clarity
I am an overthinker who likes to be over-prepared. I am also an academic who is a huge consumer of content (I read about three books each week in addition to articles, blogs, podcasts, etc). And I am a perfectionist who had had to fight my need for everything to be perfect the first time. Turns out that isn’t how the world works. That isn’t what leads to innovation. That isn’t aligned with the kind of work I want to be doing. Fact is that, for lots of areas of life, we learn the most by doing and collecting data that way. Going back to that whole “theory vs practice” idea, thinking is theory and action is practice. And action builds momentum. I, personally, have had to get out of my comfort zone and embrace more action, and it’s hard and makes me uncomfortable, and I am better for it.
Process and patience cannot be discounted
When I work with clients, I am all about process. I like to “take a step back” and ask deep questions to lead to more clarity before delving into strategy and execution. I remind them that taking the time to go through the process will establish a strong foundation, and the whole project will be better for it. And process can’t be rushed. There are different steps and various stakeholders that need to be involved. There are iterations and changes and pilots. And this is where patience comes into play. And all of this is just as important for me to remind myself as it is for my clients. Systems and consistency and plans take time for the effect to come to fruition. Trust the process.
Ask for help
I feel so fortunate every day to be surrounded by such amazing people. A major perk of being in this world professionally for over 20 years is having met and staying in contact with so many amazing, thoughtful people. And I am so grateful that so many of them have been willing to help me on this journey. Whether it be logistical help with setting up a business or thought partnership in an otherwise lonely space or support on a day where my mindset just isn’t where it should be, I can ask for help. And any number of incredibly special people have stepped up. It’s hard enough to ask for help when working with an organization, and you have team members in the next room, but asking for help when you don’t have that built-in resource is hard. And so worth it.
Looking forward to the next year. I am a little less scared than I was a year ago and a lot more excited. I am excited to see what I learn. I am excited to meet new people. I am excited to engage in more meaningful work and have an impact.
When I started SRCC, I wanted to have the biggest possible impact on Jewish education. Looking toward the next year, I plan to delve into this intention for myself – what do I mean by “impact” and how do I measure that?