What stands out to you/has surprised you about your leadership development through the Fellowship to date?
Having just finished the first year of my self-designed fellowship, it is hard to choose what to write about, because there are so many things that stand out to me about my leadership development. First of all, I can't believe how many different people I have met, how some of those people will be lifelong friends, and how much I have learned and grown over the last year. I also can't believe a year has gone by. Honestly, part of me wants to stop time and just be still for a while and part of me is ready to jump into the next year of learning and growing. If I had to choose three words that describe the main
points of what I learned about leadership over the last year, I would choose the following – courage, inspiration, and intention.
Leadership Big Learning Point Number One: Leadership takes courage. I have never really seen myself as a courageous person in the traditional sense of the word. But over the past year, I have learned about a different kind of courage. It is the courage to look deep within myself to understand and bring forth my intuitive leadership abilities and to be true to those, even when others would like me to do otherwise. I came to this understanding after an intensive leadership training I attended with 23 other people from around the world. On the last day of the training, after many intense group exercises, we all gave each other feedback. The feedback was both on our leadership strengths and also what we would like to see each other do more of. For me, the feedback about what people wanted to see more of were aggression and confrontation. Now, those two things may work for some people, but they are not how I intuitively lead. After some self-reflection and analysis, I am okay with the fact that my leadership style is not more aggressive or confrontational. It takes courage to uncover, nurture, and stay true to the unique leadership characteristics that are hidden in each of us.
Leadership Big Learning Point Number Two: Leadership both requires inspiration and should also be inspiring. Let me just say, when I talk about inspiration, I am not talking about anything grandiose. Rather, I am referring to the thing that happens when we suddenly realize we have the ability to transform the world around us. The moment it becomes glaringly clear that every social problem we see is something we created, and suddenly we are truly equipped to affect change. This type of inspiration comes to us via our interactions with, and understanding of, others. It can be recognized by its distinct characteristic – it fills us up rather than drains us. For too long, I believed that carrying the heaviness and the hurt of the world was necessary to make change. I believed this, in part, because there is so much to be angry about, so many injustices and wrongs to point out and make right. In truth, being a leader of social change does not require us to suffer; it requires us to feel inspired and to be inspiring. The kind of inspiration that lifts us up and pushes us to do better by everyone and to do more because we want to and because we can.
Leadership Big Learning Point Number Three: Leadership requires intention. The most courageous and inspiring leaders I have met over the last year are very intentional about how they show up in the world. They intentionally choose love over fear, hope over despair, and cooperation over manipulation. They are intentional about the energy they bring to the table because they embody what Gandhi so wisely said about being the change you want to see in the world. This type of intentional leadership requires discipline and ritual. It requires being clear about what you stand for and what you have to give. It requires knowing when you need to rest and replenish and when you are ready to work. People, who understand leadership in this way, know that if we just ram around the earth, working constantly, without rest and reflection, we won't do our best work from our best selves. And that doesn't help anyone.
At the end of my first year of the fellowship, I am fully committed to being a courageous, inspiring, and intentional leader. I have been fortunate to meet so many leaders who possess these qualities. They have awakened in me the desire to always lead from a solid, peaceful place. I can clearly see how the collective efforts of this type of leadership really can transform the world. I am very grateful I have another year of my fellowship so I can begin applying everything I have learned so far.