How has your understanding of your own leadership changed through the Fellowship to date? How has focusing on your own leadership changed the way you lead in your work? How do you now view the role of self-care in sustaining your ability to lead?
There are days I cannot believe that it has been 18 months since starting my fellowship – it feels like so much has changed and I am so different as a leader, a follower, a co-worker, a husband, a father today as compared to when I first started.
There are days I cannot believe that it has been 18 months since starting my fellowship – it feels like my journey has just started and there are so much more I want to accomplish during my time as a Bush Fellow.
In my professional world, the fellowship has allowed me to take risks and take a breather (which in some instances is exactly the same as taking risks). I have had the opportunity to explore new areas that I have thought “may” be helpful to my journey as a leader – something that without the fellowship I would have never taken the chance on. Not everything has been perfect, some of these explorations did not work as planned. Others took me down an unexpected path of additional explorations. Regardless, there is one constant, I took chances where I would not have taken before.
My interactions with my coach as also revealed so much about me as a leader. It revealed my impatience, my aggression, my intolerance. It showed me that I am best when faced with an overwhelming challenge and constantly wanting to look outside the box for solutions but at the same time, I am impatient with those not willing to take risks (understanding now that not taking risk is a normal response), I am aggressive against those in my way and not seeing the vision, and I am intolerant of those to prey on the weak.
What I know now that I did not know 18 months ago is that I am ok. I am ok not always pushing. I am ok stopping to explore how I can be better. I am ok to be wrong. I am ok to be fearful and uncertain.
My leadership has developed a sense of vulnerability that I previously pushed to the far back of my psyche. And as such, I have become more patient with those who may be more risk adverse than I am – to more clearly communicate my vision and what it may mean. I have become calmer in frustrating situations (thank you mindfulness exercises) and now take the time on my breath and practicing true empathy. Lastly, I am working to understand those who seem to prey on the weak and less fortunate – for I must work with them to improve our society.
Instead of constantly presenting a sense of security and certainty on my journey, I am now presenting vulnerability – and with this, comes unexpected curiosity. Curiosity about those around me, curiosity about what they truly need/want in a leader, curiosity about what is needed in our communities, and curiosity about what drives me as a person.
In my personal world, the fellowship has made me more thoughtful. This is a big statement to make but I feel it to be true. Translating the changes from my professional leadership journey, I am mindful of how these characteristics carry over into my personal space.
I have also taken risks that I would not have previously. Recently, I took a couples retreat to explore my relationship with my wife. I would say that our relationship is not unlike many others - not in “troubled waters.” We have some bad days, but we have way more good days than bad. However, I realized that as I explored and changed how I approach the world as a leader, I was starting to change how I approached my world at home.
Thus, the retreat was to dig more into that process – we were able to step back and take time to think about how our interactions at home have changed. Time we otherwise wouldn’t have taken previously. Space that the Bush Fellowship granted us. Since the retreat, I feel that our relationship has gotten even better as she is starting to take into account the changes in me as something more permanent.
In the past 18 months, I have realized that taking care of my family, taking care of myself – these are seemingly as important (if not more) than the leadership courses or other educational endeavors I have been able to explore. I’ve learned that what I found lacking in my professional space translated to how I function at home and what I’ve learned about myself and how I interact with my family translates to how I am as a leader.
I am saddened that the end of the fellowship is coming near. At the same time, I know that the last 18 months have just been the start of who I am as a leader. I am hopeful that this change will be sustainable and that what I’ve learned is just the foundation for the leader I hope to become.