Courtney Spence on How Personal Priorities Change With Age

In Chapter 6 of 19 in her 2012 Capture Your Flag interview, non-profit executive Courtney Spence answers "How Are Your Personal Priorities Changing As You Get Older?"  Spence shares her challenge with cultivating a meaningful life outside work.  She details how in the months before the interview, she has learned the personal and professional benefits of making her personal life a priority.  Courtney Spence returns to Capture Your Flag for her Year 3 interview.  As Founder and Executive Director, Spence leads non-profit Students of the World to empower college students to use film, photography, and journalism to tell stories of global issues and the organizations working to address them.  Spence graduated with a BA in History from Duke University.


Erik Michielsen: How are your personal priorities changing as you get older?

Courtney Spence: I just realized, literally in the last 2 weeks, I never really prioritized having a life outside of Students of the World. And if I started to have one, I felt guilty about it. And I didn’t realize this. I’ve always been someone that works hard and I’m fortunate that I get to work hard on something that I believe in and something that I helped to create or I created, and it’s something that I love to do, so it doesn’t feel like work, it doesn’t feel like a job. But I didn’t – I didn’t really allow for myself to truly cultivate a life outside of that. I think that there are times I thought I did but in reality I think my mind and my heart was always focused on Students of the World.

So part of the last – the evolution of these last 6 months as well as Students of the World is growing and I think I’m growing as a person too and recognizing that having a life – a meaningful life outside of Students of the World actually makes me more effective at what I do for Students of the World, and it makes me a more effective leader. It makes me more efficient in the way that I work. It’s a motivator to do really great work and do it well, and do it in maybe a little bit less time because I gotta do some other things outside of it.

So my priorities are definitely shifting and it’s still in line with wanting to move the ball forward with Students of the World and what we’re trying to do and really change the narrative, nationally, internationally, from problems to progress, I mean we – it’s all in line with that big goal that I have but it’s also motivated by the understanding that I need to have that as a priority as well in terms of my personal life and my relationships, and to take care of myself perhaps better than I have before, so I can take care of the people I love, and an organization that I love as well.