December was a hectic month, Even though I was on break from the school; I was catching up with work and taxes to make sure that I do not have to deal with tax once the school start this week.
I finished my first semester, which is quite a relief. When I started the program, I was not sure how manageable it will be. I am still working part-time while going to school in Mankato where I travel twice a week. The information I had about doctoral programs was what others shared with me when exploring the option of going back to school. Majority of the people I have talked to told me that it requires more time and energy, and that it is very time consuming, which were all true. However, going through the process helped me fall into a rhythm and adjust everything around the school demands. I know what to expect each semester, which gives me a framework to base my expectations.
Going through the program was very enlightening and fulfilling. I learned more in that one semester alone that I feel going through the experience is worth the time and energy. I feel that it is helpful that I have spent last year doing independent study about oral cultures. Last year traveled, talked, and read researches about oral cultural knowledge. The information that I gathered become handy when I am reading class materials. I am able to make the connection between the two. Making that connection is something that I very excited about its possibilities as I learn more about research methods and theories about human behaviors and personalities.
I believe my understanding of my leadership was limited to The scope of my work at the agency that I work at and the work that I do for my immediate community. Since my immediate environment shapes my experience which informs my believes and expectations, I envisioned the scope of my leadership through the lenses of my experience and my beliefs. To be more specific, I envisioned my leadership will impact mostly those I supervise at work and the community that I am involve in which sometimes asks my expertise. However, the fellowship has profoundly changed me in many ways, I will list a few concret ways that I feel had the most impact on me during my Bush fellowship:
Exposure: the fellowship exposed me to new ideas and places such as the national conferences that I had attended, which is something that I was not even aware of their existence. These conferences helped me come across people who are leaders in their fields, sit in discussions where people were discussing important topics, and gave me ideas on how my work could be developed more broadly to reach to larger audience. I believe the exposure expanded my own perception about the possibilities and expectations of myself.
Engage long-term leadership development: the fellowship helped me realize that leadership can be a long-term development where one can craft his or her skills, learn more about him or herself, and learn more about issues that interest him or her. That does not mean one should hold off leadership activity and until they become a finished product, but it means that one can engage and participate activities that he or she wants to make an impact while at the same time engaging activities that promotes growth.
Learn from others: one of the main benefit from the fellowship was that it helped us connect to others with similar interest and passion. It also exposed us to people who were doing fantastic work. A work that they are passionate and was making an impact in the process. These exposures helped me learn from others and sometimes try to emulate their work. Many time those of us who came from a humble background, we only know what we have been exposed to and that could be limiting sometimes. If you do not know the possibilities you will not aspire to reach them. I am grateful for the fellowship not only did it helped me connect to a coach who guided me during the fellowship, it also gave me the opportunity to fellow my passion of learning.
Bush coach: the bush coach was beneficial in many ways. The coach was someone that I could check with issues that I was not sure of when I come across certain issues about leadership development. She helped me process it and resolved whatever issues I brought to the session. Sometimes she pushed me to dream bigger which was very helpful because there were times that I was kind of satisfied where things were. Of course, I was comparing to where I came from which is entirely different from where I am now. She encouraged me to connect with people who are leaders in the field that I am interested in, which would not have been my first choice. I would assume that these people have better things to do and would have no time to talk. However, she showed me from a different perspective which made more sense.
my approach to leadership has changed in many ways, I learned to balance between engaging and contributing to activities that promote peaceful coexistence, and letting certain opportunity go when I am not in a position to take them. Before the fellowship it use to be hard for me to turn down any opportunity that comes on my way, now I am more selective. I also become more strategic of which task I should assume a leadership role and which one I should refer to others who are in better position. I feel that because of my busy schedule where I am balancing between school and work it is hard for me to be as involved as I use to be.
Self-care was not in my radar before the fellowship; however, attending the first retreat where the fellowship stressed the importance of self-care made me more mindful about it. Working and going to school, made me realize the importance of self-care. There are times that I feel exhausted and my productivity rate declines and I feel that I am not being myself. However, when I engage self-care, take some time off, and get rested, I feel rejuvenated. I realize if I want to be more creative, emotional regulated and productive, I should keep engaging in self-care activities. Another way I engage selfcare is to pay more attention my needs. before the fellowship my focus was putting the needs of others above mine. Lately I have modifying my apporach and realized that I should balance between selfcare and taking care of other people's needs and how a healthier balance can lead to sustainable community involvement.