At the beginning of this journey, I knew that that courage would be necessary in this next leg. As I approached the fifteen-year mark as an editor, writer, and publisher, I began asking myself tough questions. Who are the writers I want to truly want to work with? Why do I want to work with them? Who am I? Where do I want to go? I was surprised by many of my responses. What I know for sure is that I am good at the work that I do. And I know that I've held myself back. And I know that I'm done doing that. As I became I fellow, I loved immediately how it was clear that what I had put out there--that I wanted to be a more a courageous leader--would be made manifest. I've been challenged in magical ways, heart-gripping ways, exhausting ways, and incredible ways to be more courageous. I've found myself speaking up when I would have stayed quiet, but more importantly, I've found myself dreaming bigger and truly embracing a more vast view of what is possible.
In my day-to-day work as a publisher, I massage texts, visions, dreams, and on challenging days, egos. I push authors to see in themselves the power to shift mindsets, create possibilities, and to lead the lost through their words. Before becoming a Fellow, many of the tasks I performed day in and day out were so second nature, I rarely thought about me in the midst of the work. I'd only ever thought about the work. I'm surprised that these days I think about me. Typing that caused tears to almost immediately well up. Giving is second nature. Nurturing others' ideas is also second nature. Dreaming about how to make more of an impact is also second nature. Seeing me in the midst of all that is not. Shaping me in the midst of my work is not. Loving me in the midst of my work, is not second nature.
The practice of focusing on developing my leadership has broken me open. That act alone has felt courageous.
Going to Yale last year to one of the most prestigious publishing programs in the country was game-changing for me. It offered access, an exploration of my goals as a publisher, and it also was the first formal leadership training that I've ever received. I was surprised by how much education I was lacking. I was also surprised by how I immediately understood the areas of my leadership that needed improvement: delegation of tasks, an effective division of labor, goal setting, and financial management. I also learned the importance of professional development overall and how integral it will be ongoing in my leadership development.
I would be remiss if I didn't mention the family component of the last year. I came into the fellowship a new mom with a newborn and no clue about how to balance being a working mother. The first year of Genesis's life was a swirl of blessings, failings, and lessons. Traveling while pumping, managing my schedule and balancing it with my husband's, all while trying to enjoy and take advantage of every possibility offered to me through the fellowship was unimaginably affirming. I learned how strong and capable I am. I was surprised that managing all the moving parts wasn't that bad. It hasn't always been easy to go to the retreats, travel to the conferences, be part of evening events, and dedicate time to self-care in the midst of it all, but I've been able to do it and see how better my family is for it. I've adapted in ways I was unsure I would be able to before having my daughter.
When I spent a month in Jamaica last December, I learned how possible it is for leaders to actually shape their lives. This was the biggest surprise and the most amazing revelation of my fellowship so far. It felt courageous to leave home for a month. It felt courageous to bring my family with me. It felt even more courageous to enjoy an experience that never in a million years would I have seen as possible as to work from a different country in surroundings that are so joyful and gratifying to me. I'm so incredibly beyond grateful for the experience. Working on the beach and meditating by the ocean was a gift to my leadership. I wept, danced, and ideated like never before. I was surprised by how natural this experience felt to me, like sweating or thinking. My leadership will from now on require space every year away from "normal" life to rest, breathe, and write.
As I venture into the latter half of my fellowship, I'm challenging myself to know that I am an able, worthy, and courageous no matter how difficut a day is or how fearful I become in quiet moments when no one watching. This experience has been so rich and I enjoyed all of it.
One of the highlights for me has been connecting with other fellows. I'm surprised by how similar our experiences have been as leaders, how some of our struggles are similar. I've needed their support and truths on this journey more than I expected and I look forward to remaining close with several other fellows when our tenure is concluded.