April Ervin, the chief peace officer of Sustainable Leadership, LLC, knows a thing or two about resiliency, as she has hit the reset button multiple times in her life.
A friend that Ervin has known for 25 years told Ervin that she is the most resilient person she has ever met. Ervin was surprised by the response, but the words resonated with her.
“My journey has certainly been one of resilience,” Ervin says.
After 20 years of working hard with her then-husband, Ervin found herself starting over.
“At 42 I moved back in with my parents, after a 20-year marriage that resulted in divorce and bankruptcy,” Ervin says. “I am a woman of faith and found the door to open. It is not easy to experience.”
In many ways, this period of uncertainty is when her life truly began, as it marks the moment when Ervin found her life purpose. Initially, she helped her friends through their own challenging times. Momentum began to build, and her coaching expanded to executives and others. However, Ervin was so focused on helping others, she wasn’t taking care of herself and went through a phase of health issues and, ultimately, burnout.
“It doesn’t matter who you are or where you work, even if you are the CEO of a Fortune 500 company, it is inner resilience that makes us resilient,” states Ervin, who coaches her clients on inner transformation, which is critical to sustainable leadership.
One reset in Ervin’s life occurred in New York City. She had flown in for meetings on September 10, 2001, and the next day she decided to shift from the corporate sector to the public sector.
“Many of us allow fear and anxiety control us, but it is transformation calling us forward,” shares Ervin, who has served many individuals in the nonprofit sector. “I found that burnout and lack of sustainability in the nonprofit area is common, due to the culture of living a life of self-sacrifice.”
Ervin knew she was a writer in the third grade, but majored in communications instead of creative writing when she attended Northwestern University. When she wrote her first book, she felt she had come full-circle.
In 2018 Ervin released “The Burnout Factor,” a book that addresses professional fatigue in urban education. In November of 2020, Ervin issued her follow-up, “The Burnout Factor on Leadership,” which explores nontraditional leadership strategies.
Ervin seeks the good and the possible, and shares that everyone is capable of recovering from tragedy and trauma. She utilizes her personal experiences with loss and health challenges to help others. Ervin firmly believes that what you do professionally, you do personally – and vice versa.
One of Ervin’s gifts is her voice. She has a ritual of singing out loud when she wakes up. Sometimes she does this while on walks. One day, a man working on a home nearby came up to her and shared that her singing lifted up his group of workers at their job site.
Ervin encourages all of us to look at 2020 through the lens of what it taught us in a positive way.
“The power of positive thinking is truth, not just a book title,” says Ervin, who is looking forward to hugging people again.
When she speaks to large groups, she shares her story and many cannot believe that she can be so happy after experiencing so much adversity in her life. Ervin gives credit for her smile to her relationship with God, and the wonderful people in her life. Her next book, with a release date still to be determined, is titled “A Divine Storm – My Journey of Losing it All for the Restoration of My Soul.”
“We’ve been through the most tumultuous year,” says Ervin, who, in addition to her coaching, is director of alumni relations and annual giving for Christian Theological Seminary. “It’s time to give yourself grace and embrace the spirit of gratitude. We will have more to be grateful for in 2021.”
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Ervin offers the following suggestions for making 2021 the best year yet.
Say positive affirmations each and every day.
She refers to this as mindset work. She wakes up every morning with a positive affirmation about her day. If it’s a Friday, she calls it Fantastic Friday and says, “This is going to be the best day of my life so far.”
We could all use some recalibration from time to time, so invest in your mental health and perhaps visit a therapist. Telehealth sessions can be relatively affordable, and there may be no-cost or low-cost options available.
Keep a gratitude journal.
Write down five things you are grateful for every day. You may also want to write down what you want to manifest in your life. One thing Ervin is looking forward to this year is hugging.
Ervin strongly recommends daily practices of healthy living habits, including prayer or meditation, rest, eating well and hydrating. She also suggests an honest reflection of 2020 and how it has impacted us.
Visit aprilervin.com for more information.