Report date
January 2022
Learning Log

When I first started this leadership journey through the Bush Fellowship, I had an idea of what it meant to be a leader and what creating equity means and what it takes to be a leader. You can Google the definition of leader or what a leader is and get a different definition with every result. So not everyone is in agreeance of what a leader is. I used to think that a leader lead by example and was someone who was always out in front being the most outspoken person possible. So, this is how I lead throughout most of my life. As soon as I started this Bush Fellowship journey my understanding of my own leadership changed dramatically. From studying, learning, and attending programs like Leadership South Dakota I came to understand that my knowledge of how to be a leader and what a leader is, it was very limited. If anything, my ideals of who can lead and become a leader have changed for sure. I have learned that to lead one must be able to step back and listen and learn from other leaders and other individuals. Also, I learned that relationships to people play a huge role in your ability to lead and improve your leadership. These and many other factors I have learned on this leadership journey up to this date have shown me that I still have lots to learn and lots of room to grow as a leader and a person. One major thing I really did not consider of my leadership growth was self-care.
When I started this leadership journey, I said I would work on my self-care through the Physical, Intellectual, Emotional, and Spiritual aspects of my life through self-care. The role of self-care in these areas of my life became vital in my ability to lead as if one dwindles then your ability to lead dwindles, so one must find a correct balance in all these aspects to lead to their fullest potential. In the Physical aspect of my self-care, I have dealt with quite a bit in the past 18 months. I have contracted Covid, Influenza, and physical injuries that have shown me that taking care of yourself physically especially as you get older impacts is vital to being a good leader. Good physical health may even be required in certain leadership journeys. The pandemic and lockdowns in my community have made it difficult for people to exercise, eat right, and enjoy themselves physically. This may have been the exact reason as to why I dealt with sickness and injury throughout my leadership growth. As for my growth and self-care in the intellectual aspect of my life I have been continuing my master’s degree, learning more technical teachings of leadership which I am great at, and practicing what I struggle at such public speaking, etiquette, and vocabulary. Working on your self-care and intellect helps you to learn more about your style of leadership and what your great at and what you can improve on. I learned that my intellectual growth goes hand and hand with my emotional growth. The more I learn the more my emotions stay balanced. Before this leadership journey I thought little to none about therapy, counseling, and life coaching. I now understand the importance of emotional health and being able to express yourself in a good way. The way I grew up emotions were never even talked about or discussed now the importance of discussing such emotions and understanding how to express them are essential to overall health. Spiritually I have learned the importance of daily prayer and meditation. As much as I learned and felt like I have grown in my P.I.E.S. I was still facing illness both physically and mentally. Suffering from depression and anxiety at times. I learned of something that barely mentioned in both modern medicine and modern psychology and that is the lasting effects of genocidal, historical, and childhood trauma. Recent studies have shown that trauma plays a huge factor in the development of mental and physical illness in people who must grow up in communities such as mine where trauma is more present. One-way to be an effective leader is healing from your own trauma and to bring about awareness of trauma and how to heal it from it which is by doing the ultimate self-care and reconnecting to one’s true self and identity which creates a pathway for all traumatized people to follow. This revelation for me almost seems like a perfect way to help create equity in my community besides just leading by example. If we as Indigenous people can fins a way to heal and recover from all this trauma this can create a pathway to healed individuals in our community which I think is needed more than anything.
Focusing on my own leadership through trying to achieve my goals I set for myself in this leadership journey has changed the way I lead. As go through my master’s program and went through Leadership South Dakota I learned a lot of technical information on leadership and what it means to truly be a leader. One major thing I had stuck in my head is when it comes to school, I need to lead by example, but I was faced with a very difficult lesson last semester in school at South Dakota School of Mines and Technology. My physical and mental health was not in a good place, and I always took pride in myself as student and by leading by example when it comes to my academics but I was forced to make the decision of withdrawing from a couple classes so I could focus on my health by improving my self-care. Think was a very difficult decision for me to make but I learned that leadership is sometimes taking a step back to focus on your self-care and make sure you are in the right state of mind to be at your full potential when it comes to your leadership. I was actually very proud in myself to make the realization that self-care is critical in sustaining leadership. I took the time needed to make sure I was in the right state of mind to finish my degree and I am happy to say I will still be graduating this Spring as intended. As Leadership South Dakota ended this past year I learned just how much I was lacking in the development of my leadership both from a technical standpoint and a social standpoint. I learned a valuable lesson on just how important it is to have a good network that surrounds you with big, minded people that are leaders and have dreams of impacting the world. I learned so much from just being around people who are considered leaders form our state. The biggest takeaway I received from attending Leadership South Dakota was the difference between reputation and legacy as a leader. I always though as a leader that one must always concentrate on their reputation which is the professional side of your life which is school, work, and professional settings. However, I learned that legacy which is your personal life and your relationships to people may in fact be more important that any reputation you create for yourself. Whenever our time is done here, and we return to the stars nobody ever thinks or speaks of your reputation instead people tend to reflect on your legacy and how you treated people during your time here. I realized that I need to improve on how I treat people and really think about the legacy I want to leave behind for people to remember me by. To leave a better legacy for myself and my leadership I need to reconnect with my true self and address the trauma that has occurred in my life and that starts with addressing my childhood trauma, which is a difficult thing to do. By creating these leadership development processes and frameworks and addressing my deficiencies I have allowed myself to grow tremendously especially in the technical side of leadership and the network side of leadership. However I still have trouble being comfortable while being uncomfortable and sometimes wonder if that will ever change. As I faced lockdowns, curfews, checkpoints, restricted travel, illness, and curfews from the pandemic it has been very difficult to find time or even have the desire to travel to study other communities who are using STEAM as a pathway to create opportunities for healing and creating opportunities. For the most part I have learned to have patience in my leadership and use this as opportunities to see what it being done locally to help push STEAM initiatives and join in the work that is being down. I mainly led in this way by showing my community that social distancing and vaccinations are the best approach to overcoming the pandemic. I also learned about other communities through research, webinars, and internet meetings. I have been fortunate enough to see Indigenous related curriculums being implemented in other communities and have started discussion in ways to initiate this type of STEAM curriculums to student on our reservation. Throughout this leadership journey I learned that self-care is huge to maintaining balance in your life and to reaching your full potential as leader. My entire life I have always put in the hard work to be great at school, work, and professional settings but I never understood or took the time to realize that self-care is vital to one’s mental and physical health and essential to having the right mindset to developing your leadership to its full potential. The ability to do self-care through this fellowship really for the first time in my life has shown me that one must care, no love, oneself to reach their full potential as a leader and a person.