Summer Ideas to Refresh Your Leadership Soul

by Jun 23, 2017Connect6 comments

Summer can be a busy time, where normal schedules and work time are joyfully interrupted with celebrations, vacations, and, for some of us (depending on your location!), simply surviving the heat! But even in this unique season, we want to grow deeper and forge new connections to God, others, and even our own hearts, so we can cultivate greater world impact through our businesses, ministries, art, and leadership.

With this in mind, we asked our Voice of Courage leaders what’s keeping them going and reenergizing their leadership this summer. Here are a few of Sarah and Jan’s favorite ways to refresh, grow, and re-inspire their leadership this summer!



Exploring new craft stores, sipping an iced coffee and choosing fabric for blankets for her two boys (one of which is on the way!)

Listening to mystery and detective case podcasts.

Learning to podcast, especially the art of interviewing! I’ve appreciated the example of Jamie Ivey of the Happy Hour, Jacey Verdicchio’s Start Your Podcast guide, and listening to the style and techniques used by the amazing WNYC show hosts (I especially enjoy the style and content of interviews on This American Life, Invisibilia, and Serial). Learning a new craft like podcasting is really refreshing and challenging for me as a leader. New ventures also help me empathize with and remain better connected to ways of generating creative thinking and problem solving so I can better support my coaching clients, too.


Inviting new friends to join our family around the table. The conversations we share are so life giving and as a leadership bonus (aside from the main purpose of just building new friendships!), they give me insight into the heartbeat, interests, and concerns of my community.

Also, book club! I’ve gathered a few local friends for a monthly book club. We alternate fiction and non-fiction reads each month, and the conversations and real life sharing are so energizing and helpful for keeping me relevant to the concerns and perspectives of others. Also, I read things I wouldn’t have picked up on my own, so it’s balancing and educational, too!

Book Inspirations

I’m excited to keep getting healthier in my ways of relating to God, others, and myself. That inspires better connections with those I lead, mentor, speak for, and coach. A couple excellent reads that are helping reshape my soul and leadership this summer are:
Scary Close, by Donald Miller and Give Yourself a Break, by Kim Fredrickson.

Also, if you haven’t read it yet, please do yourself a favor and also buy Daring Greatly, by Brené Brown. I read this one in the winter this year, and this book continues to rock my world in the best ways.

Get-Away Places

I love to get a change of scenery to find fresh life perspective, leadership insight, and project creativity! Two favorites so far this summer have been biking through Santa Cruz along West Cliff and walking along the shores of Tahoe, meanwhile enjoying conversations and talking through dreams with my husband.

For me, it’s so helpful to unplug, read, walk, talk, and journal in nature with someone I love. In these spaces and activities, God renews my perspective and priorities and gives fresh air to catch the wings of my leadership.

Connections with Other Leaders

I love asking other women leaders what energizes them in their work and hearing how God’s heartbeat has infused and driven their life and dreams forward. This summer, I’m meeting some of those inspiring ladies for casual chats over coffee, booking discovery calls to explore other ladies’ passions and interest in coaching, and reaching out to mentors and friends from my past and present to record their stories for my new podcast. These are the best parts of my work!


Breathing and Moving

So much of what I do (writing and coaching) involves sitting, so I’m enjoying stepping outside into the sunshine, whether it’s onto my deck with its blooming hydrangeas and scent of herbs, or taking a walk alongside a nearby bubbling creek that to me sounds almost musical. Sights and sounds like these shake loose not only cramped muscles but cramped thinking and creativity. They help me pray and dream and listen better to my heart and God’s heart for me.

Retreating and Restoring

Sometimes I need to step further away from my home office. Recently Tom and I loaded up our bikes and drove an hour away to my all-time favorite trail that hugs the Truckee River. That day the river was tinged in an amazing color of blue from the icy cold spring melt and was running fast and wild. Riding alongside it was invigorating.

I’m also trying to maintain a commitment to plan a personal retreat day each month to reflect, pray, listen or simply be in God’s presence. Sometimes that’s all I need—to remember that He’s with me in every moment. And sometimes in the silence I sense his nudges and direction or clarity I hadn’t expected.

Getting Creative

Creative like . . . playing with layers of mixed media on a fresh canvas, dreaming up a sweet homecrafted gift for Sarah’s little one due at the end of the summer, teasing out the words for a current book project about transitions, dreaming about future Voice of Courage offerings, including how to create a truly unique leadership training cohort for women.

I believe creativity is a gift we are each given to express not only who we are and all that God has created in us, but also for loving others well—our families and the communities where we live and serve. There are so many options for being creative and learning ways we can be! One of my favorite go-to sites is Udemy where you can try something new or strengthen what you already know and love to do.

Reading to Engage the Soul

My summer reading list is long in options, but I have two I am currently reading. One is, An Unhurried Leader: The Lasting Fruit of Daily Influence, by Alan Fadling. This one is inspiring a closer look at my approach to leadership, areas of influence or life in general. Loving the way it engages my soul!

Another one I’ve had for a while but I’ve picked up again this summer is, Becoming a Life Change Artist: 7 Creative Skills to Reinvent Yourself at Any Stage of Life, by Fred Mandell and Kathleen Jordan. I’m taking on their challenge to use a sketching journal to doodle ideas and solutions. I love the way the authors draw from famous artists and their approaches to the creative dilemma. Inspires me! And I hope to use what I discover through the process with my coaching clients!

Adventuring Together

I like changing up the pace (or scenery) for summer, getting together with family, enjoying new adventures and experiences, gathering in ways we can’t during other times of the year.

And I always enjoy making time for coffee chats with new connections and old, with women leaders of different ages and creative interests, or with writers struggling or dreaming like I am. I love to hear their stories and how God is intersecting their lives and passions. Keeping it light and laughing or going deep and real. Either way, enjoying the adventure together.

What about you? What most refreshes your leadership soul? We’d love to hear from you! Leave us a quick comment here or send us an email on our contact page to let us know what you’re doing to refresh and re-inspire this summer!


  1. Joy Martin

    Ahhh…I’d love to sit down with both of you one day and enjoy coffee on the deck by the hydrangeas ;). I appreciate you both sharing your stories and the things that bring you life. It overflows to the rest of us! Being outside on a walking path or in nature anywhere opens up my mind to hear the Holy Spirit whisper or sing words to my soul. The atmosphere of our local coffee shop seems to bring out creative thoughts and peace …or maybe it’s the latte ?? 🙂

    • Jan Kern

      Me too, Joy! A few hours on any deck or in any coffee shop enjoying conversation with you would be so welcome. I was glad to finally meet you in April but wished we had more time for an unhurried chat. (And I know you’d love meeting Sarah too.) Just a few moments with you this spring and I could tell you listen for the Holy Spirit’s whispers and songs! Thanks for sharing a glimpse of what brings you life!

    • Sarah Bond

      Joy, we would love to sip coffee on the porch with you! Let us know if there’s a time you’ll be nearby! 🙂 I love the variety of ways God meets us and brings fresh creativity–whether along quiet paths or amidst the happy bustle of a coffee shop. Those are two of my favorite places to connect and create. As I write this, I’m sipping an americano in a local cafe. I savor these moments to pray and plan!

  2. Bethany

    I really liked your idea about a monthly personal retreat. I think I’m going to implement that into my regular schedule. Thanks for great post. ☺

    • Jan Kern

      Thanks, Bethany, for stopping by again. The monthly personal retreat has become a life-giving practice for me as it helps me slow down for that set-aside time to spend time with Jesus, listen, and allow space for His spirit to quiet my soul or direct my path in the midst of whatever is going on. Some months I don’t get to it and I really notice the difference!

    • Sarah Bond

      Yes!! I agree, Bethany. This is something I want to incorporate, too. What is refreshing you this summer so far?

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