While CFO at the Library of Congress, Jeff Page hosted a leadership workshop for his department of 60 staffers. He started the conference by offering a bit of advice, “Don’t go in thinking you’ll have a life transforming experience--go expecting a few nuggets you can put into your M.O. and make a commitment to those good nuggets--don’t get back into the grind and let that learning wane--nurture it, build it into who you are so you can reap the benefit of your investment.”
Ironically, following his own advice would become a life transforming experience.
At the end of the conference Jeff found himself asking what his commitment would be. How would he keep the momentum and energy of the training moving forward? He sat down at his computer the following Monday and wrote an email to his department detailing what the training meant to him and the ways he would continue nurturing his team’s development. The response from his team was appreciative and positive.
Coming off the excitement of sending an email his team actually enjoyed, Jeff chose to keep it going. He would start sending a weekly email on topics of leadership, emotional intelligence, conflict resolution, vulnerability, and more.
One day, Jeff received a call from someone outside of his division at the Library of Congress, thanking him for his weekly emails and telling him how beneficial and enjoyable they had been. Through this conversation Jeff would learn that members of his department had been forwarding their weekly emails to colleagues, family, and friends.
A few months in, the emails evolved into an online blog that would carry on for 9 years. Jeff was encouraged by fans of his blog to contextualize these years of work into a book- finally culminating in the creation of Becoming a Student of Leadership- Making Leadership a Practice.
Selfishly, here at York we have few favorite excerpts:
“Skip Sherman (previous York teacher) taught me that we don’t need to have a lofty, important-sounding job to do great work. If we simply strive to do great things in whatever work we do, we can elevate it to a level of honor and integrity, something that both serves and inspires our colleagues and customers. What better reward than to know in our own hearts and minds that we have chosen to do great things.”
“Although my original motivation for attending York was suspect, the decision to pursue my high school education there ended up being fortuitous. The teachers were excellent and utterly dedicated to helping the students learn how to learn. Of course, attending a high school known for its intense focus on academics meant that I again found myself surrounded by a lot of wicked smart people, many of whom ended up going on to schools like Stanford, Princeton, Yale, MIT, and Harvard. Meanwhile, I worked hard to keep up and, with a lot of help and encouragement from York’s amazing teachers, I ended up doing pretty well.
When I graduated from York, I was not the Valedictorian. I didn’t win any academic awards and wasn’t wooed with scholarships by the top schools in the country. However, I was surprised at the graduation ceremony when I was called up to receive an award that was created that year by the York faculty specifically for me. It was called the “Teachers Award,” and as one of the teachers explained in presenting it to me, it represented a different kind of intelligence that they felt was of equal importance to the school’s hallmark of IQ and book smarts. In other words, they were recognizing me for emotional intelligence. (On the other hand, maybe it was a consolation prize created for the student who wasn’t crazy brilliant and didn’t have the top colleges drooling to get me in their programs.) Whatever its real meaning, receiving the Teachers Award from the school faculty some 40-odd years ago was a huge honor and left a lasting impression on me.”
The York Philanthropy Department sends our heartfelt congratulations to Jeff in this incredible accomplishment. We look forward to hosting you on campus to speak with current York students!
Purchase Jeff's book here