What is your life’s purpose?
My life purpose is to inspire and help individuals and organizations realize their full potential to make this a better, more humane and just world.
How are you living our purpose?
I live my life purpose by demonstrating what it means to be a responsive leader—leading and doing by example.
I get great joy and satisfaction in supporting individuals and mission-driven organizations in their journeys to become the best they can be. Recently I was asked to bring my talents and skills to the Boston Women’s Fund (BWF) by helping them through a leadership transition. The Boston Women’s Fund is a 35-year-old foundation started by a diverse group of progressive women to support grassroots organizations led by women working on behalf of women and girls. Over the course of 3+ decades, BWF has had its ups and downs (like most organizations and all humans!). It is a great honor for me to assist BWF in holding on to its legacy and mission while adapting to the rapidly changing and challenging environment we find ourselves in.
I have just finished my first book, The 7 Secrets of Responsive Leadership: Drive Change, Manage Transitions, and Help Any Organization Turn Around. During my long career (over three decades) of leading organizations, I have had the privilege to support individuals through mentoring, leadership development, and coaching, especially with women of color. In addition to one-on-one mentoring, I give many talks and speeches and as a result, people have often suggested that I should write a book! Well, I did, and I’m thrilled to share my wisdom and experiences through the written word.
In The 7 Secrets of Responsive Leadership, I weave my own personal and professional experiences along with others’ examples to explain what I believe are the core attributes of exemplary leadership and key strategies that effective leaders use.
How did you find your purpose?
I grew up in a deeply faithful family that taught me, my brothers, and many cousins the core values of faith, hard work, honesty, and living a life of integrity. One of the most important tenets we learned and observed in our family was the value of giving back: “To whom much is given, much is expected.” I believe that this core value guided me, consciously and unconsciously, in the career and professional choices I made throughout my life starting with my days as a high school leader.
What advice do you have for purpose seekers?
I often write and speak about what I call the Big 4: curiosity, humility, empathy, and resilience. I believe that by incorporating these core attributes into your life, you will open yourself to finding your path to a purpose-filled life. With a curious mind, we will seek answers; we will try to understand the world around us and how we are responding to challenges and opportunities. Humility reinforces our curiosity in others and the world around us. With humility, we know that we can learn from others, fully aware that “I” do not have all the answers. Empathy—the ability to understand the feelings of others—will keep us in touch with our own feelings as we try to understand others. Finally, resilience, the ability to keep going in spite of—or because of—setbacks, contributes to our ability to look for and find our purpose.
What resources do you recommend?
I recommend that you build into your life regular time for personal self-reflection. It could mean taking long walks (something I do) or meditation, prayer, reading inspirational books or poems. The key is to find something or things that you love and will consistently do. I believe that by building in “me” time, we open ourselves up to the possibility of being our best self ;and when we are seeking ways to be our best self, we have a greater chance of actually achieving that goal.
Four classic books I recommend are Eckhart Tolle’s A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose, Desmond Tutu’s Believe: The Words and Inspiration of Desmond Tutu, M.J. Ryan’s Attitudes of Gratitude: How to Give and Receive Joy Every Day of Your Life and Richard Carlson’s Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff . . . and It’s All Small Stuff: Simple Ways to Keep the Little Things from Taking Over Your Life
Connect with Jackie Jenkins-Scott:
Book: The 7 Secrets of Responsive Leadership: Drive Change, Manage Transitions, and Help Any Organization Turn Around
Jackie Jenkins-Scott is a nationally recognized leader with more than three decades of experience in executive leadership positions in public health, higher education and corporate and non-profit governance. She is widely acknowledged as a transformational leader, helping individuals and institutions achieve high performance and strategic results. She served for 21 years as the President of the Dimock Community Health Center and 12 years as the President of Wheelock College. In 2016, Jenkins-Scott founded JJS Advising, focusing on leadership development and organizational strategy. Her personal commitment to improve society extends to active community and civic engagement. She currently serves on the Board of Directors of Century Bank and Trust Company, Chair of the Board of Directors of the Schott Foundation for Public Education, the Center for Community Change, and the National Board of Jumpstart. Jenkins-Scott serves as President of the Massachusetts Women’s Forum, an affiliate of the International Women’s Forum. She recently concluded Board terms on the Tufts Health Plan Foundation, John F. Kennedy Library Foundation, and the Tufts Health Plan.