Bishop T.D. Jakes Shares Insights on Embracing Gratitude and Flexibility Amid 2020’s Challenges

“One of the problems that we tend to do when we are faced with challenges and changes is to remain normal. I believe that one of the solutions to stress is to restructure,” Bishop Jakes said during the Leadership Dallas Alumni Association's Annual Leadership Luncheon.

A tumultuous year did not prevent the Leadership Dallas Alumni Association (LDAA) from hosting its Annual Leadership Luncheon.

The luncheon, a yearly networking opportunity for graduates of the Dallas Regional Chamber’s flagship leadership program, was hosted virtually this year and featured a conversation between the renowned Bishop T.D. Jakes, Senior Pastor of The Potter’s House and CEO of TDJ Enterprises, and Sara Madsen Miller, COO of 1820 Productions, DRC Board Member, and Leadership Dallas ’13 alumna.

During the virtual chat, Bishop Jakes centered on the importance of gratitude and flexibility in the face of challenges, a timely message as COVID-19 surges nationwide ahead of the holidays.

“One of the problems that we tend to do when we are faced with challenges and changes is to remain normal,” said Bishop Jakes. “I believe that one of the solutions to stress is to restructure.” 

Embracing adaptability in the face of volatility is crucial to perseverance, Bishop Jakes noted. In making that case, the pastor took a moment to remind the audience that the country’s current trials are temporary and will resolve in time. Until then, Bishop Jakes urged self-care.

For leaders, self-care involves expressing gratitude for your own fortunes as well as communicating your appreciation of others. That appreciation, claimed Bishop Jakes, can impact a business’ bottom line, ensuring customers come back and employees feel valued.

“For all of us in leadership, we have been shaken to our core so that we would not be quick to assume that we have the position that we do because we deserve it; we are blessed to have this opportunity [and] the problems that we deal with every day,” Bishop Jakes said. “Somebody sleeping under a bridge would love to have to deal with what you are dealing with every day.”

In showing appreciation, Bishop Jakes urged leaders to not neglect their own needs, particularly in light of the problems facing our country that no one individual can fix. Finding time for activities that bring joy—be it a walk in the backyard or a dip in the pool—is key to preventing burnout.

Still, many remain concerned about addressing the host of issues facing communities across the nation. To that end, Bishop Jakes encouraged leaders to do what they can within their sphere of influence, and then back away. While the disruptive nature of these challenges may be uncomfortable, Bishop Jakes argued that the disruption is necessary to effect change.

“We must take this opportunity to make sure that the disruption turns into an opportunity to reimagine our future and our country,” he said. “[That] doesn’t start in the White House or in Congress; that starts in our house.”

In his parting message, Bishop Jakes expressed optimism about the future of Dallas, noting that the present crisis has created an opening for the city to reshape itself for the better.

“I think that Dallas has a huge opportunity to model what a metropolitan [city] could look like,” he said. “And it’s starting to happen [as] CEOs engage problems that they could ignore and take on challenges in South Dallas and elsewhere.”

One such leader taking advantage of that opportunity is Brittany Barnett, who was recognized during the luncheon with the 2020 Leadership Dallas Distinguished Alumni Award. An attorney, author, entrepreneur, and dedicated advocate for criminal justice reform, Barnett provides pro-bono legal work and has founded two nonprofits, the Buried Alive Project and Girls Embracing Mothers, to support those impacted by mass incarceration.

Barnett joins a distinguished list of Leadership Dallas Alumni to receive the designation, including former Dallas Mayor Ron Kirk, former Dallas ISD Board President Jack Lowe, and present Texas Education Commissioner Mike Morath.

The LDA Annual Leadership Luncheon was sponsored by Oncor and Simmons Bank.

A version of this story first appeared on the Dallas Regional Chamber site. Dallas Innovates is a collaboration of D Magazine Partners and the Dallas Regional Chamber. 

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Michael Wood currently serves as Manager of Education & Workforce for the Dallas Regional Chamber. In this role, Michael leads the DRC’s early childhood education efforts, promotes collaboration(...)