It is a funny thing to reflect on the Fellowship two years after announcing the award. That world seems like an entire universe away. After surviving (fingers crossed) a pandemic, an economic downturn, a racial uprising, and more, it seems the resilience of leadership was stretched to its rubber band-like limits. If there's been any constant in the challenges of the last two years, it's been the need to find stillness and quiet to reach clarity. As a leader, there has been so much noise to filter and sift through. We determine what is urgent and what is important in every moment of each day because we can't possibly focus our energy and attention in all the directions the last year has demanded. I saw a comment from someone recently that said that we're not meant to know what everyone is thinking all the time. The constant barrage of 280 character opinions, book-sized think pieces, and viral misinformation campaigns challenge the leader to stay grounded in their values and find quiet meditative space to sort their own thoughts.
In the last year, I've used part of my Fellowship to dig into my family history, hoping it would provide a deeper understanding of my own identity as a leader. I didn't have to go far to find inspiration. In an interview with my father, he talked about his own decisions as a leader in our family and their impact on his only child. He said something that he's always said to me, but it rang differently in this context, "stay on the mission." It's been a mantra that he's repeated after crippling basketball game losses, early career transitions, house hunting, entrepreneurship, and parenting advice. I hear this calling as a reminder to return to my center and quiet the noise. It's not always easy; however, it's become a practice through meditation, exercise, and regular reflections. This returning to center and clearing of headspace has come in handy not just with making decisions as a business leader but also in my personal life.
The pandemic brought to life perhaps one of the greatest privileges I missed most- choice. The choice to see people, the choice to leave the house, the choice to travel. Now that those things have re-entered the world, I feel a paradox of choice. What do I do first, next, now? It's a feeling of haste for fear we may lose that privilege again. I've had the privilege to extend my Fellowship for another year, which will allow me to re-engage in some of the items I was unable to fulfill in 2020. So while the clock is ticking, I do feel a sense of expansiveness and have built in practices to resist the pressures and anxiety of society norms that operate from a place of scarcity.
One observation I've made in the last year is that even in isolation, I've found myself much closer to my friends and family. Though I've missed the social elements of the before times, the thought of engaging in that level of activity again makes me tired. I now feel more connected to my closest dear ones than ever before. I feel deep meaning for the work I choose to take on versus feeling the pull of diving into everything with equal urgency. I look forward to continuing this practice of making space as I enter the final year of my Fellowship.