Alice Faron, Champaign, IL
When it comes to rebooting, Alice Faron is a classic. She’s rebooting by helping people reboot themselves.
Alice, 59, is the creator of Encore, a 24-page guide for people who are moving from one part of their life to the next (read more here). She took up this work upon retiring from LeaderShape Institute Inc., a non-profit organization that provides week-long leadership development seminars for young adults, primarily college students.
Alice lives in Champaign, IL. She was the first executive director of LeaderShape in the 1980s and spent two decades with the organization, serving in every capacity. Her primary contribution at LeaderShape, as it had been throughout her career, was writing curriculum.
More to offer
“I had been with a great organization for 20 years,” she said. “I loved my work — it was very mission driven. But I began to have an intuitive feeling that it was time to leave that work. It was feeling harder and harder to connect with 18-year-olds, particularly since I was writing curriculum. I didn’t want to be a dinosaur in the organization and be out of touch. I just had this feeling that it was time to move on, and I was ready for something different.”
A key for Alice was a strong sense that she had more to offer.
“I didn’t feel like I was done working or done contributing,” she said. “I have friends who are so excited about retirement, and they can’t wait to quit work and travel and just do nothing. But I felt like I was not done, that I had gifts and talents that I still wanted to share, still wanted to contribute and make a difference and give back. I wanted to do more. The game was not over.”
Alice knew her work would most likely be in the field she knew best – personal development and helping people move forward. “But at the time I didn’t know it was going to be Encore — I didn’t have that figured out. I just knew I wasn’t done.”
New meaning and purpose
She had to overcome some obstacles to get re-started. “I lost my previous identity,” she said. “I had started LeaderShape, I had been with the organization since it began, I was LeaderShape. But when I left, that was gone. So an obstacle was, Who am I now? I’m not Alice Curriculum Writer, I’m not Alice LeaderShape, OK, who the heck am I?
“I had to find new meaning and purpose, because I didn’t leave knowing exactly what I was going to do. There was anxiety and angst, particularly that first six months. And I had to figure out how to structure my days and weeks. Freedom can be intimidating. I had to guard against just filling up my days with activity, with just — nothing.”
So Alice took what she knew and began working on what became Encore.
“Encore was probably as much my therapy, my own little journey, as anything else,” Alice said. “I switched to my default mode, which is always to write curriculum. That’s what I had done for LeaderShape, so I decided I’d better get this down, and maybe something can come of it.”
And something is coming of it. Using the booklet as program material, Alice co-taught a seminar for seniors with the wealth management experts at a large bank. “The bankers talked about the financial piece, and mine was the life style component.” Other financial institutions are in discussions with Alice about similar seminars, and about using the booklet as a stand-alone resource to distribute to customers and employees. And she’s offering the booklet for sale to individuals who may want to use it on their own.
Live through the unsettled time
Where did Alice turn for assistance?
“To tell you the truth, I wasn’t getting help or advice from other people,” she said. “Where I did get advice and learning was through a lot of reading, a lot of reflection, a lot of praying. So the best ‘advice’ I got was the wisdom that came from reading and thinking.”
The top learning she gained was to be patient. “Just be patient and live through that time that feels like it’s unsettled. Trust the process, trust that things will begin to take shape ultimately. And don’t fill in time too quickly. Ask yourself, Are you filling in time, or trying to find fulfillment?”
Alice is realizing multiple benefits from her rebooting experience.
“One benefit is new friends and colleagues,” she said. “I’ve met a whole new group of people in this journey, and people that I’ve stumbled upon through others when I tell them what I’m doing. Another benefit is that I have a new passion. I loved leadership work, especially with college students, but now I have this new passion for helping other people work through this journey of what’s next in their lives.
“I have new energy about this new work I’m doing. And I have a new self-confidence — not that I didn’t have any before, but I have a new sense of self-confidence about something new I can do.”
Try new things
And what advice would she give to potential rebooters? She’s given this a lot of thought. Here’s what she says:
“Stay engaged. Meet new people. Don’t draw into yourself and try to figure this out all alone. Experiment and discard. Try new things.
“And you’ve got to really know yourself. I like all this stuff about reinventing and all, but ultimately you have to know what you’re good at, where your strengths are, where you feel like you have a mission or a calling or a purpose. This is the place I am, and it feels really good right now.”