I am in a completely different place than I was a year ago. It’s amazing what the Bush Fellowship can do to a person in one year. I guess I could describe my first year with the Fellowship as higher learning on steroids. I can think back to last May when I attended my first Bush Connect Conference at the Guthrie Theatre in Minneapolis. When I first walked through the door and saw all the people, felt the excitement and embraced the energy, I knew I was apart of something special. In the breakout sessions, I had the opportunity to meet some amazing people and hear their passion about how they created change in their organizations that truly brought a heighten sense to the work that I have been engaged in for the last 15 years. The icing on the cake that day was having the opportunity to meet and talk with Angela Duckworth, a researcher from the University of Penn who is an expert in studying Grit. On a side note, before the Fellowship, I have been studying Angela’s work for years and only wished I could meet her. My first Bush event gave me this opportunity of a lifetime. My first year in the fellowship has been full of great experiences and wonderful opportunities to grow personally and professionally.
These opportunities such as going to Harvard, UCLA and New York have brought about a sense of confidence that I have been searching for over the last 10 years. When you are around so many good people who share your passion you cannot help but to be inspired. I went from I think I can to now I know I can. It’s a beautiful thing.
My leadership capacity has changed tremendously over the last year. I think the turning point for me was when I attended a week long leadership training at Harvard University. I was pushed out of my comfort zone from the moment I arrived on campus. Secondly, I was told over and over again that leadership is not a title or position but rather the act of creating change. If you call yourself a leader and truly are not creating change in your institution, you are just a contract for services. Often times, we hire people to make others happy and not create the change in our buildings that is so desperately needed. This was very profound for me to learn. I decided I had a choice to make, I could push the system of education or let the system push me. I decided that I was going to push back. I am also looking to develop leaders. A good man once told me that leaders don’t create followers, they create other leaders. I have been on a journey to understand the art of developing leaders ever since.
I guess I can sum up my first year with the saying, “knowledge is the residue that is left after the experience has worn off.” Over the last 12 months I have been giving a chance to take part in some unbelievable opportunities that have shaped my learning as a leader forever. Through these experiences I have sharpened my leadership skills exponentially.
I look forward to what the next 12 months will bring.