Brian Howard is Research and Policy Analyst American Indian Policy Institute. He is Pipash, Akimel and Tohono O’odham. I’ve always respected Brian for his humility, knack for policy, and his commitment to Indian Country. During our conversation, I got to know more about his personal story, which I think includes a key lesson for everyone: being uncomfortable in order to grow.
Brian shared a few stories during our conversation that shared the theme of growth and trying something new. What I found unique about the experiences was that he was able to combine the new experience with a familiar one so that the new challenge does not seem to have been as challenging as it could have been. For example, Brian traveled to Australia and New Zealand for a study abroad program when he was 16 years old. It was a big transition, but he spent much of his time in communities with Aborigines and Maoris, a familiar experience that helped him in his experience.
Recently he moved back home to be closer to his family, including his niece for whom he now acts as a father figure. He was moving back home, and closer to family. Easy, right? Well, he made the move without any job prospect.
Each instance is an example of situations where people may not have taken action because they were afraid. What if I’m home sick? I would move back home but I don’t have a job yet. Brian did not let those questions deter him, and he came out on the other end of those experiences with new perspective. Like other instances, the move back home worked out well. He is back with his family and landed a great job with the American Indian Policy Institute.
Brian shared many great insights in this episode. He talked about the amazing role his mother played in his life, the importance of understanding policy issues, enduring lost loved ones, and more.
But I think Brian’s willingness to take on new challenges, and grow as an individual, is the best lesson we can take away. You don’t need to be considering a move to Australia to take advantage of his lesson. Identify a goal, challenge, or need that makes you uncomfortable. Do you feel that feeling in your gut? Did you immediately find 10 reasons why you can’t achieve it? If you did, then I think you found what you should focus on.