The Foreign Service Journal, April 2024

THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL | APRIL 2024 25 Speaking Out is the Journal’s opinion forum, a place for lively discussion of issues a«ecting the U.S. Foreign Service and American diplomacy. The views expressed are those of the author; their publication here does not imply endorsement by the American Foreign Service Association. Responses are welcome; send them to well-being in promotion and senior-level performance pay requirements; making early access to individualized health support and other specialist sources available to all employees, such as physical training, leadership/well-being coaching, and nutritionists; establishing metrics to examine and manage workloads; building a robust organizational framework to promote good mental health; and, most important, creating an executive-level position whose sole focus is employee well-being, as our colleagues in the CIA have recently done through the establishment of a “chief well-being o cer.” Embrace Our Common Humanity In the end, maintaining our overall well-being boils down to embracing our common humanity. ose of us fortunate enough to have worked under Secretary of State Colin Powell can attest to why he was such an exceptional leader. He was the rst to admit that he wasn’t perfect. He was human. As are we. ink about past and present leaders who inspire you. Leaders who motivate you, demonstrate resilience and integrity, and are deeply committed to their values. Leaders who talk the talk and walk the walk. Are you that leader? If not, what needs to change? Can prioritizing your own happiness and well-being help? We are living through extremely challenging times. Prioritizing our happiness and well-being inside and outside of work takes on a greater sense of urgency. Unfortunately, there is no one-size- tsall formula on exactly how to begin our own journey. Science can’t predict what will work for each individual; that will come from personal re ection and guring out what works for you. Try doing an audit on your relationships, sense of purpose, and health. Consider what brings you the most joy, and compare that with what you actually do every day. For me, it looks like being fully present in each moment, seeking out jobs and projects that bring me a sense of pride and purpose, and being an active participant in my family’s life. What works for you? Meeting in the Middle e department has a distinct opportunity to better balance the work of its mission while putting its employees rst. e will for change is there. When laying out the Modernization Agenda, Secretary Blinken said: “We have a window before us to make historic, lasting change, and we’re determined to seize it. … No one at the State Department expects their jobs to be easy. … But many have asked whether it has to be quite this hard.” Right now is the time to elevate employee well-being to the top of the policy agenda. In the meantime, we as individuals can recognize that to become powerful leaders, we need to put on our own oxygen masks rst to better serve others. Prioritizing ourselves will make us stronger leaders who are more equipped to confront head-on the challenges we face every day as foreign a airs professionals living and working around the world. But achieving that requires our action—to demand what we need and to create real boundaries for ourselves. So, let’s choose wisely, let’s choose our own humanity, and let’s call it happiness. n