November 30, 2023

Keeping Your Boat Afloat in Challenging Times

Mandi Perlmutter Manager, Leadership Planning and Placement

The past six weeks have taken an enormous toll on our collective emotional health. A few friends have expressed guilt that they are starting to let their email inboxes fill with unread alerts about Israel and global antisemitism. Others have said that they are practicing self-care and taking breaks from the endless news cycle, but still feel overwhelmed, scared, and exhausted. It is simply impossible to sustain the highest levels of engagement without some impact on our own wellbeing. We are all a little weary.

Dov Ben-Shimon, our Federation’s CEO, recently posited that we are at the end of the beginning of this dark period. In that case, we are going to need to pace and sustain ourselves for the months ahead. We will not be effective advocates for Israel and our own communities if we don’t think about what makes us stronger and what depletes us in this work. A line often used in coaching is that we need to learn “what floats our boat and what sinks it.”

In addition to my role as Manager of Leadership Planning and Placement at Federation, I am also a leadership and mental fitness coach. In my coaching, I have observed that self-awareness is at the center of our effectiveness, wellbeing, and leadership. I have seen clients benefit tremendously from homing in on self-awareness of what floats their own individual boats. What does this look like in practice? It is the ability to pause and ask: “what am I feeling right now?” name it, and recognize it’s impact.

I avoid giving advice to coaching clients. You won’t hear me say “you should try…” or “why don’t you.” It doesn’t work. Instead, I ask questions. Consider this your coaching session to get you thinking about your own needs during this challenging time.

What physical cues does your body give you that you need to take a break?

What generally works to help you recharge, or, at a minimum, slow down your thoughts? (hint: everyone has their own personal recipe).

How do you feel when you engage in these recharging activities? What changes for you?

What’s the most important use of your time right now in your advocacy? (hint: what can you prioritize and what can you leave behind?)

You can tell what I am getting at here, right? This is not a suggestion to put the phones down completely — this work requires you to be informed and educated (and would my advice really make the difference?). But I will ask the questions of what will help you when your body tells you it’s time to take care of yourself so that you have strength for the long haul.