My first bit of advice is to tell you to breathe, take it all in because what you have accomplished becoming a Bush Fellow deserve to be celebrated. You've heard the saying that many are called but few are you chosen, and you are now you are amongst the chosen few. Take some time to enjoy it with your family, and friends as many of them have sacrificed and played an important role in your success. Your network will change as the opportunity to connect with current and past fellows through social media and email will present itself. People will reach out to hear your story and ask your advice on the application process.
Start by taking advantage of the retreat and get to know those in the room, because I can guarantee those gathered in the room are some of the best minds and talent in the Midwest region. And certainly, some of the most accomplished people you will meet. Don’t just take it in but be prepared to " Change Your Mind and Change Your Life” It is the beginning of what is certain to become a life changing experience. A starting point of creating a new and better you that ultimately will benefit not just you but your community that you serve as well. You will leave the weekend enlightened with the importance of self -care and self-discovery. Whatever you do, do not let it fall on close ears.
Since the Bush Fellowship retreat, I have embraced the importance of self-care and have really made self-care a priority in my life. I have watched so many unhealthy and broken leaders who are my peers in community and have concluded that many of them have given so much while forgetting about themselves. I learned that we have so many leaders walking around wounded who are now being asked to lead and provide the community with answers to tough problems and have never taken the time to recharge or deal with the pain of tirelessly serving others who all most never express thanks or appreciation.
So many as they would say who are not "living their best life". It has made me become more conscious of resisting negative energy and negative people. I have learned that it is okay to say No! That there is only 24 hours in a day and it's probably impossible to get everything on your mind done over the course of 24 hours. Self-care is critical to keeping a healthy mindset and to staying your best, truest self.
Just as important has been my Sankofa journey and that has been my journey of self-discovery. Over the past forty years I've spent more time being Coach McKenzie and I realized I didn't really know Larry McKenzie. I needed to find out who I really was, and my fellow ship presented me with a new opportunity to think a new way. I knew I needed to start doing thing differently.
One of my favorite scriptures says "For as a man thinketh in his heart, so is he" - Proverbs 23: 7. How you see yourself will determine how the others will see you and treat you. If you see yourself as a lion, you can’t be treated you as a cat. When you see yourself as an eagle, you don't get treated as if you are a chicken. Having a daily positive mental attitude is critical to your success.
One of the greatest benefits so far has been completing my John Maxwell Leadership Training Certification. My involvement with the John Maxwell training program has been one of the greatest investments I've ever made. I'm so thankful for receiving the fellowship award which allowed me to participate; the conference gave me the opportunity to meet so many positive people from around the world. One thing I learned is that what's really happening in society and in our communities isn't being talked about on CNN or Fox. The world is full of people and the importance of unity through diversity and the efforts being made by them to make their surroundings a better space for everyone isn’t in the spotlight. There were many lessons learned with an emphasis placed on building up what's inside of you. John Maxwell teaching on transformational leadership has changed my life.
Through my John Maxwell training I’ve learned that Leaders are responsible and take responsibility for their successes and my failures. Leaders need to act quickly to address issues. More importantly, learn from their mistakes and use those lessons learned. Take responsibility for everything you do as an individual knowing full well that it always has an impact on others. “Everything rises and falls with the leader.” Learning, living and leading are the Laws of Leadership.
One of the biggest lessons thus far for me have been focusing my inability to let go and trust other people to do things the way I would do them, and that it's okay if people don't do things the exact same way as I would. That others need to be able to make mistakes to grow. I've learned also that one should be in competition with oneself and not others. No matter where a person is in their development goal setting and goal achieving may be the most important factors in a person living their full potential. That experience has value and seeking others out is not about someone being smarter than you but acknowledging their experience. The ultimate challenge for anyone is doing your own personal best? No matter where a person is in their development goal setting and goal achieving may be the most important factors in a person living their full potential. One should never allow what they do become who they are, sometimes we get so caught up in "winning" in a performance-based culture that we forget why we do what we do. In talking with other leader’s, it has become evident that Self-care is extremely critical piece in being an effective leader because one cannot lead if they are not in a healthy space. Too many leaders are operating in an overwhelming space of stress with very little support or willingness to ask for help.
My key focus has been transformational leadership and consistency. Anyone can be good sometimes, but it takes a long time to develop a reputation and a credible one at that. You must put time into what you are doing. Real leaders add value to others because we value people, and one can only be of value to others if they value themselves. Part of my success has been because I value others with unconditional love and believe in them when they don't always believe in themselves. As a leader I have always believed in exceeding expectations by setting goals high for myself and others around me. A good leader is always willing to grow, and I often quote St. Jerome’s "Good, Better, best...Never let it rest. Until your good is better and your better is best”. In all that I do I strive to get better. I taught one must be a ladder climber before they can be a ladder builder. I discovered that I've always been a dreamer not afraid to live life versus accept life. As a leader it's important to demonstrate a positive attitude by choosing my thoughts, words, and actions. One of the biggest eye-openers was being okay with failure because you only fail if you don't learn. "Sometimes you win...Sometimes you Learn". An effective leader is transformational, never leaving things they touch the same. I've done that, but more importantly over the last twenty years I didn't build champions one at a time, but as a community of champions who learned that if everybody pulled together, we could make the impossible possible. Leadership is a process and you must trust the process. The John Maxwell program help me understand that my blessings have been because of my willingness to serve each one of those who have been placed in my pathway of life.
I would leave you with a dream worth living is worth sharing with others. Use this opportunity to work diligently becoming a better leader. The person who shares their dream gets to watch it grow. When you are willing to share your dreams through your work and including others, thee's no liit to what can be accomplished . The impossible becomes possible. Enjoy the ride!