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06.27.2019 Sharon Spano, Ph.D.

How to Integrate What You Love into Your Work

The integration between what you love and the work you do, isn’t easy.

Yes, it can be done. The question is, how?

Take a lesson from Brett Kaufman, Founder and CEO of Kaufman Development and Gravity.

In a recent interview with Brett, he openly talked about his own journey from early childhood trauma to purposeful success.

Not just any level of success. Brett Kaufman and his team are committed to “elevating humanity.”

One Man’s Journey

As is most often the case, the ability to meld passion with success is a process of self-discovery. Early childhood trauma coupled with a mom’s wise decision to seek therapy for her young son set the stage for Brett’s commitment to mental health and wellness.

As a young boy, Brett remembers “liking” therapy. This liking eventually led him on the road to personal development—all of which has brought him to where he is today as an innovative leader in the real estate development industry.

As a young man, Brett did the hard work of learning a trade. He dappled in banking and finance. Yes, he tripped and fell, but as he continued his quest for personal and professional development, he discovered that he wanted to do something big with his life.

“Something that feels really connected and important and aligned,” he further recalled.

In this knowing, Brett was able to explore the best part of himself—his talents and expertise—and he focused his energies toward these two companies that are now centered around three philosophies: Creative Expression, Impact, and Well-being.

A Young Leader Emerges

Brett started Kauffman Development in 2011 because he wanted to build communities that made people’s lives better. The concept is birthed in his desire to bring wellness activities like yoga and clean eating into spaces where people live, but it goes beyond communities to collaboration of effort.

Somewhere along the way, Brett learned that you have to step outside the box to integrate what you care about into the bottom line.

“So you start to see, even if others don’t, that actually being outside of societal norm is really where all the goodie are, where the gold is,” Brett remarks.

Brett further recalls how real estate development used to be all about the bottom line, and is, in fact, for many today, but he and his team are dedicated to a new and bigger game.

What if mental health and wellness were an option for everyone?

Gravity is part of that bigger game. The impetus behind this company is to create “unique communities that bring together like-minded people, programs, and physical spaces” that will positively impact the world-at-large.

The combination of these two industries—mental health and real estate—might sound like an odd match, but passion is often birthed in a leader’s ability to see that which is not yet realized. It’s called Vision.

“I created Gravity as an experiment to see if I could tie mental health recovery and everything necessary for mental well-being into the built environment.”

Brett recalls his journey into therapeutic spaces that, while helpful, were too often situated in depressing environments.

In response to this concern, Gravity is a mixed-use development project with offices, restaurants, residential apartments, work spaces, and beautifully designed co-practice therapeutic options—to include community yoga, acupuncture, meditation courses, organic food, and a list of programs and remedies designed to improve mental health.

In listening to Brett passionately describe the vision for Gravity, my question was, when can I move in?

In a recent article for Thrive Global, Brett went on to say:

“We need new interventions into the crisis of our individual and collective mental health. New ways to build mental health remedies into the structures that we create. We need to meet people where they are: where they live, work, and socialize. Where mental health doesn’t require a drive to another neighborhood.”

The additional good news is that Brett Kaufman doesn’t just believe that mental health and wellness is only something that should happen “out there” in the community. It’s something that promotes within his own company.

For example, at the end of each day, the staff at Kaufman Development gathers for group meditation. It’s a practice that Brett and his team value, and the proof is in the company’s overall success and the employee engagement under riding that success.

Brett went on to say:

“There’s no question for me, it comes back to what are the things that you are personally passionate about? What are the things that you love to do, not in your business, but in life? Then, how do you make a living out of those things? I actually believe the irony, and my experience has been that you can make way more money once you start to figure out how to integrate the things that you love into your work.”

I call this integration a meaningful, purposeful life garnished with prosperity.

If you’ve ever heard me describe the value of integration and how important it is for us as business and community leaders to lean into how we might point our work in the direction of the collective, then you know why Brett Kaufman and his team are at the top of my systemic leadership list.

Brett is a man who not only sees a systemic need, he’s doing something about it.

I am delighted to know that so many leaders like Brett Kaufman are utilizing their skills and talents to grow companies that are uniquely positioned to respond to the many needs before us. Brett gives me hope for a better world, one that focuses on all that’s right about the human condition.

Question of the Week:

What are the things that you love to do that might somehow be integrated into your work for the greater good of your community?

Published by Sharon Spano, Ph.D. June 27, 2019