As I begin my Bush Fellowship journey, I have come to realize that it has indeed afforded me a great and valuable opportunity in building my leadership capacity, thereby expanding my professional networks, creating first alternative financing mechanism for the Muslim community in Minnesota, and pursuing my Ph.D. in Public Administration program. The Fellowship has likewise challenged me to have effective time management and to prioritize my professional duties while mindful that I am not compromising the various daily or regular tasks requiring appropriate time efficiencies.
While faced with the daunting dual responsibilities of being a husband and father of 8 children (6 boys and 2 daughters), self-care is something that I am trailing behind, admittedly. Having a myriad of so many personal and professional responsibilities, I really find it difficult to create an open space for socializing or having fun. Self-care is one of the most important tools that I believe most of us should have; and with this realization, we need to know ourselves, our needs as well, and thus plan accordingly. It’s obvious and inescapable that many of us, including myself, must know and face our needs; and understanding ourselves requires having strong emotional intelligence and other unshakeable traits and a disciplined character.
Time management is essential for the Fellowship: At the commencement of the Bush Fellowship, the most vital thing that I have done was to think, reflect, and thoroughly analyze my Fellowship proposal, consult with my coach, and prioritize things. The first thing that I came up was to cut my work hours and delegate some of the duties that I have had in my current job. For the past 11 years, I have been the executive director and founder of the New American Development Center (NADC) organization, so delegating some of my daily responsibilities wasn’t an easy task. On the priority hierarchy, the first thing that I have committed to myself was to have the time to really take care of myself, eliminate some of the responsibilities that I have on a daily basis, thereby allowing myself to concentrate more on the Fellowship work. Having done that, I have hired an associate to work with me and do some of the responsibilities that I was carrying for the organization.
Going back to school as part of the fellowship: I have registered in Strategic Management and Planning course, which really fits my professional endeavors. The course is helping me to understand the value of strategic planning for public and nonprofit organizations, comprehend the principles and concepts of organizational change, realize the importance of implementing strategic plans in the workplace, recognize the pros and cons of strategic planning, and to understand the roles of strategic planning participants. The second course that I have taken is Advance Organizational Theory and Leadership. The course allows me to develop or exercise my critical thinking skills, to compare and contrast traditional and emerging paradigms in organization theory, compare explicit theories of organization with more implicit, complex theories, and Identify attributes of effective leaders to lead in the global century and apply them to the complexities of leading modern public, non-profit and private organizations.
On September 22nd, I embarked on my first travel to Africa, in conjunction with the Bush Fellowship, and saw lots of developments and opportunities that have been going on back in that progressive continent. I flew from Chicago O’Hare with Ethiopian Airlines. The flight took a little over 14 hours, notwithstanding the fact that it was a non-stop flight. I have met lots of people in Addis Ababa including top government officials, business leaders, and traditional leaders. It was an eye-opening trip that I believe increased my knowledge about that country’s political, financial and social, transformations for me.
Finally, it’s critically important to have the professional coach at the beginning of the Fellowship, so she/he will be able to get involved on the task early on and help to prioritize the work. For example, my coach helped me to develop a work plan with specific goals and benchmarks. He also helped me to analyze my Fellowship thoroughly, identify the individuals whom he believed could be an essential component for the work and set follow-up meetings.