As we kick off 2024 and our 7th volume of En Root, we are celebrating our ongoing exploration of a life devoted to purpose. Kevin Frick is our returning author who contributes a valuable piece to En Root every year, giving us insight into their perspectives on mentorship, leadership without authority, and the gift of time, to name a few topics. This January, Kevin shares their journey to finding purpose, and the importance of taking the time to explore our unique winding paths. Enjoy our Q+A with Kevin below, and be sure to check out their feature in this month's issue!
This month's theme is all about taking the time to figure things out. Tell us how this theme has played a role in your personal or professional life.
I feel like I've spent my entire career figuring things out. I switched from chemistry to health policy and administration as an undergraduate. I switched from thinking I might lead a facility to focus on research. I thought I'd be a health services researcher with some economics background, but I changed my doctoral studies to present as "economist first." I was hired into a school of public health with a strong focus on research but I loved teaching. I switched schools in a university to gain a title and expand my leadership. After 8+ years with a "fancy" title, I wanted to return to a "just" faculty role and had to figure out what that meant. As I continue, I am still trying to figure out the best way to lead a life with fulfillment through work in my original research areas but with a focus on mentoring and DEIB issue as well. I began my own "gender-expansive identity and presentation journey" three years ago and have taken many small steps over time. So, I'm still figuring life out.
At OutGrowth, we believe in designing the space and time to reimagine the path forward. How do you believe that creating an openness within ourselves to redefine traditional timelines can impact our perspective and influence our future decisions?
Realizing that our professional lives can be four or five (or more) decades, we have plenty of time to make decisions. That gives us the opportunity to try and experiment, to try and fail, and to try and reposition. Life can be more fulfilling when we fill it with more. There are a few who know their focus and live their focus from day one. That is not me. I have been blessed to find ways to find fulfillment and grow as I've been open to redefinition multiple times.
What is one hard lesson you learned in this past year that contributed to your growth?
I still overcommit despite telling myself that entering "Chapter 3" of my professional career was a chance to wipe the slate clean on some past commitments and not overcommit moving ahead.
What is one competency or skill you hope to develop in 2024 and beyond?
How to say "no" more effectively.
What inspires you?
The joy of others finding fulfillment.
At OutGrowth, we believe in preparing the next generation of leaders. What is one resource you'd recommend to those looking to carve out the time for growth in the next year?
She Built It
What's next? What are you excited about in the coming year?
More opportunities to talk about personal mission statements, diversity, and leadership
Kevin Frick is a health economist and professor at the Johns Hopkins Carey Business School with joint appointments at the schools of medicine and public health. They teach about health care management and do research on cost-effectiveness. They have spoken on mentoring, leadership, and diversity in a variety of settings.
Be sure to check out Kevin's talk on leadership while making space for all!