Report date
July 2021
Learning Log

As I continue through my leadership journey and continue to develop myself as a leader, things that have surprised me throughout my journey is the importance of having a network of leaders, the ability to step out your comfort zone, and how much each aspect of your life in the Physical, Intellectual, Emotional, and Spiritual sense affect your ability to lead. Like I said before this journey has been unique as all of us Bush Fellows had to overcome some unique challenges that include a virus pandemic, political unrest, riots, lockdowns, physical and mental health disruptions, and all communications such as meetings, conferences, and class being converted to virtual type of connection over the internet instead of in person. That is just touching the tip of the iceberg of the challenges we have overcome to continue to develop ourselves as leaders.
So, one thing I never really took serious or even thought was important in becoming a leader and completely surprised me was expanding and relying on your network of colleagues and fellow leaders. Over the past year I learned just how valuable it is to have a network of great big-minded people in your corner as you not only journey through this leadership experience but as you journey through life. I always had a sense of what it means to have a good network of people in your life, but over the past year I learned how important and vital it is to expand your network and to build relationships with those people who are considered part of your network. As I attended a Leadership school in South Dakota, Bush Fellow seminars, and graduate school at the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology I started to expand my network with people who are considered leaders in their respective fields. As my network continued to expand and I started to build real relationships with the people I invited into my network I started to see many different types of learning, collaborating, and development opportunities arise from just building relationships with people in my network. I also tried to concentrate on building my network with people who considered leaders. What better way to learn and develop yourself as leader than to learn from fellow leaders? I was always nervous to expand my network and to meet people I did not know but after awhile I started to embrace the learning journey of getting to know people’s stories and deciding if this were the kind of person I would like to have in my network. This also brings me to my next big surprise of this leadership journey which is embracing the unknown and stepping out of your comfort zone.
One goal I have for myself in my leadership journey is to become comfortable being uncomfortable. In other words, this means having the confidence to step out of your comfort zone. I was very surprised at just how much impact this can have not only in leadership development but in life also. I am usually a very reserved person but this year during my leadership journey I learned the importance of being able to deal with uncomfortable situations. I attended Leadership South Dakota this past year and as I pulled into the first session, I quickly realized that I was the only dark skinned Native American from a reservation in the group, with most participants being Caucasian and looking and acting nothing like me. At first it as very difficult to step out my comfort zone and to assert myself in the group. As the program progressed throughout the year, I found myself becoming more and more assertive in the group and embracing the unknown and learning that being in the uncomfortable situations is usually what leaders must do to become better leaders. As time passed in the program, I started to embrace the uncomfortable situations and used them as an opportunity to develop my leadership abilities. I am forever grateful for the Leadership South Dakota opportunity and how it allowed me to become more comfortable being uncomfortable. As I became more comfortable with everyone in the group and with myself being a part of the group, I developed some lifelong friendships and grew my network exponentially with fellow leaders. I really learned that being uncomfortable is actually a very good indication of great things about to happen.
To be able to develop yourself as a leader you need to be healthy. I was really surprised and caught off guard at just how much your health can affect your ability to grow and develop as leader. When I speak of health, I am referring to your Physical, Intellectual, Emotional, and Spiritual health. This past year each area of my health was tested, and I learned that when one is aspect is not receiving the care and nurture it deserves it throws your entire life out of control making it very hard to be the leader you desire to be and to develop the skills necessary to get there. I was tested in each aspect this past year. I caught the Corona Virus, broke my ankle, and blew my back out which tested my ability to overcome physical challenges and to concentrate on that aspect of my life. I was bombarded with homework and reading which tested my ability to stay true to my intellect and finish in a good way. Every day is a battle with my emotions but embarking on this Fellowship has allowed me to go to Therapy and have a life coach which helps me to get a grasp on my emotions. I have been able to pray and meditate more with this leadership journey which has allowed me to connect more to my spiritual side. I was very surprised to learn that neglecting any one of these aspects of your life really has a major impact on your ability to lead and your ability to grow as a person. As this leadership journey continues, I will continue to look for the learning and development opportunities that present themselves.