Report date
November 2020
Learning Log

I am enormously grateful for this Fellowship opportunity and am grateful for the spirit of reflection during these times of such significant changes. I am asked to reflect on how my leadership has changed during the Fellowship to date and how has focusing on my leadership changed the way I lead in my work?

June 2019 seems like a very long time ago with so many changes personally and across the world. Within this shifting world, my leadership has changed in a number of ways. But mostly I would say that I have been in a constant state of learning coupled with a deeply felt sense of humility as I learn and stumble in practicing new ways of engaging and leading and being present in community. Because my year was filled with “firsts” in a new area of focus, talking with people I had not met previously, writing and presenting to new groups, and stepping into meetings and places that are new to me, I have been in a constant state of reflection around who I am in this space and how am I engaging. Between the coaching and the monthly reflections, I have had a steady opportunity to reflect and to ask myself whether I am being true to values of justice and equity, am I pushing for stretch goals in addressing climate crisis, am I exercising my public voice, and am I living life fully. The answer to these questions ebb and flow, but the process of reflection is creating a new habit of reflection which I believe is my success. I am creating reflection memory muscles!

Renewed curiosity. The first major change in my leadership came with the transition from a focus on national to regional work and a move from a focus on electric sector impacts on climate change to the agriculture sector. I set out to develop new relationships and to learn as much as I could in the first months of the Fellowship, to build a knowledge base around climate and agriculture. I stood in cornfields with corn above my head, sat in a barn listening to lectures, and traveled to one of the oldest organic farms in the country. I joined multiple racial justice and equity webinars and trainings. I read about greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture and our ever evolving understanding of the potential of carbon sequestration in our soils as an important climate solution. The Fellowship helped me step into new experiences and to meet a world of innovators and stewards and to gain new insights and access to lots and lots of new information as I explored the intersection of agriculture and climate.

Learning new ways. I met with my executive coach throughout the Fellowship. After years of pushing toward environmental outcomes, I was called into a place of learning and reflection, where I am challenged to pause, reflect on my presumptions and assumed approaches, and to approach my leadership with greater curiosity, new models and practices, and consistency with my values. I am examining more the “how” and “why” I approach my work over the “what” of my work. The coaching and expansive experiences helped me to begin seeing outside the boxes I had drawn around myself and to feel a renewed sense of curiosity and learning.

Trying to be present in community. 2020 arrived and a lifetime of significant changes fell into a few months. I am really trying to live fully and honestly in the intensity of this time. With this comes some self-truth telling and humility. The global pandemic changed the art, music, local food, family visits, travel and much of what I love and have taken for granted. The powerful racial justice demonstrations a couple of blocks from where I live and across the country amplified urgent need for justice. The passing of my father-in-law closed out the summer. The elections captured all my fear and hopeful anticipation.

It is difficult to completely understand how my leadership has changed in a time of such changes. I believe the greatest change in my leadership is being more present and aware and seeing more clearly my privilege as we challenge inequities around us. When I walk into a (virtual) room focused on climate change, I see with greater urgency and clarity the opportunities to confront climate change and racial injustice with solutions that are tightly woven together with equity. These times are a profound teacher and time will help me with perspective and words.

How do you now view the role of self-care in sustaining your ability to lead? 2019 and 2020 required a lot of personal truth telling, trial and error, half steps and a few whole steps in my efforts to grow. Recognizing this is a lifetime journey, care of the mind and the body feels even more critical as the world shifts. Today, while walking around a local lake under a clear blue sky, surrounded by brilliant snow I was reminded of the bounty and generosity of nature. I was reminded how fortunate I feel to live in a city that has public green spaces. I continue to find peace in the beauty of the natural world with all of her critters, colors, sounds, and smells. My family and friends have always been a source of self-care as their laughter and wonder feed my soul. While it does not match a hug and a late night of laughter, we have adjusted with Zoom and walks for which I am very grateful. As I pivot away from the refresh button on my computer, I am committed to staying in and moving into these spaces that bring simple joy.