2 August 2021 | SUSTAINABLE LEADERSHIP
At home, generally, at work, to the community, to children and to our Planet.
In the past few years, I have thought much more about what giving back means in general and to me in particular, about what can I do personally for others and about how my abilities best enable me to give back. I didn’t want to just donate money to generic organisations. I realized that to be meaningful and have impact, my giving back had to be strategic, purposeful and more truly aligned with who I am and what I stand for.
Giving back starts at home with my own kids. Being present when I’m with them and being kind and very mindful of how I support them has become paramount. This has become one of my strongest mindfulness exercises. “The parent-child connection is the most powerful mental health intervention known to mankind” (Bessel van der Kolk). Children’s brains reflect their parents’ brain (for example stress) and the environment in which they are raised. It is my responsibility to raise children who do not have to choose between their authenticity and their attachment to their parents. It is my responsibility to support and teach my children intrinsic motivation while loving them unconditionally. The greatest gift we can give to our children is to resolve our own issues and ensure we do not pass them down, whether consciously or unconsciously, to future generations. I have realised that mental health is not a destination, but a process. It is about how you drive on a daily basis, not about where you are heading.
Inner abundance requires nurturing and practice. Treating everyone with empathy, love, appreciation, affection, caring and compassion, is a kindness we can give all the time. Such kindness costs nothing but has the power to change everything for others. Our ancestors recognized the balance of giving and receiving and the belief that every relationship and encounter is one of give and take since giving and receiving are just different aspects of the flow of energy. Giving is not about material things: we can give back through a smile, a flower or a compliment.
Giving back at work comes from sharing with my colleagues all that I have learned as an athlete and throughout my career as a lawyer. It is about launching a holistic health & wellbeing program at work and continuously thinking about how I can improve it so that my colleagues feel included and engaged. It is also about writing the book “WINNING INSIDE” (https://angelakerek.com/publications) in which my co-author @markushornig and I explain how to transfer techniques used by performance athletes into the business environment. We argue that in today’s accelerating digital world we cannot maintain the “more is more” and “work hard, play hard” mentality. Rather we need to become strategic and more thoughtful in how we perform.
To the community I am giving back through pro bono legal advice to new non-profit ventures and social impact ventures which are building sustainable businesses. I believe that besides donating to organisations which protect the environment or biodiversity, this is how I can increase the impact in giving back to the community and our Planet.
Giving back to children is through my donating to charities that support children. To my mind the best way to unlock opportunities for children is to help them build skills to allow them to thrive and empower them to take control and actively shape their own futures. Sport can be a perfect tool for this and is of course very close to my heart. I support and closely follow a number of small charities working in this field and have joined High Impact Athletes to support charities that are proven to have the highest impact worldwide. read more
Whether in sports or in business, I am in a privileged position and I consider it my duty to give back as much as possible by supporting those less privileged. Learning through the skills and strengths of sport will enable future generations to grow and thrive. Teaching them that we are all reliant on a healthy environment in need of our protection and restoration is more important than ever.
Athletes are legendary for summoning the willpower to face huge challenges and overcome enormous obstacles so in June 2021, I joined a tribe of athletes supporting two wonderful non-profit organizations as we face the toughest challenge yet – climate change. EcoAthletes helps athletes take up the challenge of inspiring millions of fans to join the climate change fight. EcoAthletes helps me to support organisations fighting climate change (angelakerek.com/givingback) and High Impact Athletes provides a targeted and efficient way to give back as well as boosting my energy as a part of this incredible tribe of athletes. As part of a community of likeminded people in both, EcoAthletes and High Impact Athletes, I feel so much more strengthened and motivated!