I started my Bush Foundation Fellowship as a journey that had to be approached with a very open and curious mind. As I complete this journey in its entirety, these are things that I wish I had known when I started, and things that stood out or surprised me the most:
1. Every day is a learning day, but only if you approach it that way. As I continued my efforts to have increased expertise in the field of information technology, I was constantly reminded that the best learning I had was the one that I approached with no preconceived judgement or conclusions.
2. As I continued to study systems and organizations that are within our digital and economic development ecosystem, I was reminded how change never comes easy, and power is never relinquished willingly. As I continued to position myself as a role model in my community, and a thought-leader within the digital and economic development ecosystem, I saw organizations and other powerful individuals perceiving me as a threat because they saw my authentic representation of my community.
3. I was continuously reminded that nothing beats the power of human connection. Sometimes we over-complicate situations by not paying attention to the simpler things that forge strong bonds between individuals. This leadership journey made me slow down and pay more attentions to my existing relationships, both professional and personal, and have a clear strategy on how I can pay attention and nurture them even when I seek new professional and personal relationships.
4. I was continuously amazed by what self-care can add to my leadership journey. Prior to this fellowship, self-care was not something that I paid a lot of attention to. I was always confident of my ability to regulate myself and avoid burnouts. Now I see that I was actually not maximizing my abilities because I was always caught up in high-stress situations.
5. I have come to the conclusion that the learning process will never stop and my leadership journey will continue to be elevated as long as I remain honest to the process of seeking knowledge. There are so many factors that determine what we do and who we are or are not. What will always remain important is the fact that we need to be grounded and true to who we really are, never try to be someone that you are not, be humble about your abilities and vulnerabilities, and be ready to adapt to change and realities on the ground.
I am forever thankful to Bush Foundation for giving me this wonderful opportunity to be one of the 2018 Bush Fellows. My leadership journey continues and I hope we will cross paths again as we look for ways of improving the quality of lives of everyone in our community!