Report date
January 2021
Learning Log

I have noticed a shift within myself in the past few months about my sense of being a leader. When I first received the Fellowship, I struggled to view myself as a leader: it felt like just putting on a hat as opposed to operating from an internalized and integrated awareness of who I am. In January of 2020, I began a new job as chaplain at a different hospital just as the pandemic got rolling. Six months prior, I began a ministerial doctoral program focused on transformational leadership, and so was learning what that looks like while experiencing this internal shift myself. At the hospital, I've been providing significant support for staff as they strive to meet the challenges and heartaches this pandemic brings. I hear feedback from staff that my presence matters to them. Maybe it's a combination of numerous factors, but I have realized a quiet embrace of my impact and potential as a leader. And one difference between now and when I first received my Fellowship: I'm not scared by it now. It's not just a hat anymore. I've taken this identity as leader within and am looking for ways to be strategic and collaborative about the way forward within the hospital with other leaders and staff. I'm aware of more comfort within myself to speak up and be seen for who I am. I see my responsibility to speak truth about tough issues in ways that keep as many people engaged as possible, with an eye toward the overall transformative goals and shaping of culture within the system. I believe I'm realizing that as I continue to embrace, strengthen and integrate my call as leader, and come to a grounded sense of peace and humility about that, then my influence becomes more authentic, whole, and healing for others. I believe this personal inner work and shift is part of the transformative change for others.
Focusing on my own leadership has encouraged me to take my own potential as leader seriously. Before receiving the Fellowship, I didn't really spend much time considering what I could offer or do as leader. I'm now thinking more strategically, systemically, and long-term in my work -- not only at the hospital as chaplain, but also as (future) adjunct professor at St. John's School of Theology and Seminary. I will be teaching my first course this coming Fall semester of 2021. I'm developing my sense of myself as a teacher and transformative leader of future pastors, priests, and lay ministerial leaders. I understand the privilege, opportunity and responsibility inherent in this kind of leadership role, and I have a better understanding now of what I want to bring into that context. So the lens I use as I conceptualize my work has broadened, in partnership with colleagues, toward overall and future goals, in addition to those more immediate. But primarily, I think receiving the Fellowship gave me permission to take my own potential seriously and discover what's there.
I'm seeing more clearly how my self-care is basic and foundational for continued leadership and growth. I've discovered a connection between healthy boundary-setting and serious embrace of leadership responsibilities -- and not feeling guilty about that. I appreciate the idea of practicing "wellness" that is part of the hospital work culture we are establishing. So this means not just choosing good foods and exercising, but also developing deeper awareness of the impact of thoughts, self-talk, and beliefs. I see how important it is for me to practice compassion toward myself, which really is new for me: I've always been pretty hard on myself. I see now how that works against wellness and sustaining leadership. Being hard on myself has been a coping strategy following the childhood traumas I experienced. But I've discovered how much this saps my energy, and more importantly, it's just not something I want in my life anymore. Life is too short and too valuable for that. This may be one of the greatest gifts of this Fellowship: newly discovered freedom through greater self-compassion, gratitude, and appreciation for life. Those are sensibilities and practices that can sustain my leadership.