Report date
January 2022
Learning Log

My understanding of my leadership has substantially changed, not just since the fellowship started in 2020, but since I began the process of applying for this opportunity in 2019. The biggest change has been to my internal world, the stories I tell myself, and the flames I fuel. My comfort with who I am, what I know, and how I can leverage those things to lift myself up has increased significantly. The process of applying for this fellowship and realization I got it have allowed me to create, refine, and reflect on my personal leadership vision with my own goals and aspirations to live up to.

I thought my fellowship would be a jam packed 2 years of training, travel, and site visits to build my confidence and credibility within the field of transgender health. I did not anticipate a pandemic that would throw all of that off course. It has forced me to look internally and process what is important to me. More than anything I have been blown away by the impact that coaching has had on my personal and professional development. Given the events of the last two years having mentors and coaches to rely on has been paramount to my wellbeing and progress.

My leadership coaches offered important reframes along the way to help propel me forward when I could easily get stuck. One of the main reframes that has shaped how I lead in my work and think of myself as a leader is how I am viewing this once and a fellowship opportunity. Rather than try to pack all of the important experiences, site visits, and learning I can handle into the 2 years of the fellowship, I am now focused on using the rest of my time and resources the ensure that I will have a lifetime of experiential learning. This has been the key toward building my leadership sustainably over time.

More than ever, I recognize my leadership and I accept my capacity to lead. I have leaned into valuing opportunities to observe and participate in other people’s leadership. Leveraging my leadership skills to amplify other people’s voices and lived experiences, especially in a mainstream context, has become a new normal. This acceptance of my own leadership and ownership of what I know has empowered me to take a chance and make a big career change.

I am impacting change at a higher level and see the benefits to working on health equity and transgender health in a new way. My job change is allowing me to dive into professional interests, like human centered design and intercultural development, while also engaging in transgender health on a global level through my work with the World Professional Association of Transgender Health (WPATH). In that space I feel embraced by experts, supported by peers, and respected by those interested in learning from my lived experience of changing systems and challenging the status quo. Imposter syndrome and corporate structure are not holding me back. I have the confidence to proceed into unknown territory.

My transition from a role within a large healthcare organization into consulting has come with multiple important lessons. First, I have successfully moved into a place where I can say that I am building, not fighting. As the fellows learned through an empowering conversation with Jason Sole, a 2013 Bush Fellow, we need to ensure we are tending to what we want to build rather than use all of our energy simply fighting what is. My moves are more deliberate and informed. My focus is long term sustainability, a slow burn compared to burning alive. This change was critical for my wellbeing. As a result, I have more energy to dream, to think about what is next, and to pour myself into new projects with deeper impact.

Second, I have come to expect and thrive in chronic stress. In the first few months at my new job, I felt a deep sense of missing something. It was stress. The stress of the daily struggle of fighting for something so close to my heart. The burden of carrying so much baggage with me into every conference room. All of it is gone suddenly. This is my first professional role where I am not tasked with fighting for equity as a central component of my job. It is also the first time I am not having to actively try to change the very system that employees me. I will continue to do this work in many ways and forums. Shifting my day-to-day focus to building the skills and experiences I need for my leadership has created a sense of peace that I did not know what possible. This has informed my evolved sense of selfcare. Selfcare simply means having boundaries. Where and when I take up space, how I choose to expend my energy, and whose opinion I value are all examples of my new self-care routine.