“Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all others.” --Marcus Tullius Cicero
I’m writing from a train in England which perhaps can serve as a metaphor for my the first year of my fellowship. This fellowship, like a train journey through the English countryside, has been purposeful, beautiful, filled with lots of intentional stops, and is comprised of people from all over the world. There has been time to relax and just look out the window and times to concentrate and work and learn. Being on this Bush train was unexpected, has been a total gift and, just like my actual train, showed up right on time.
I’m in England right now for part of the Oxford Diploma program that Bush is enabling – to be back in school after 26 years has been quite the jolt to parts of my brain that have been long dormant. Like much of my fellowship activity, just the act of exercising a new and different muscle, has proven to be learning in and of itself almost irrespective of the specific lessons or content. I have been surprised by how good this has felt, especially as I squarely enter middle age - a season where it is easy to settle into a mundane routine. The Fellowship has brought intentionality and thoughtfulness at just the right time and in just the right ways.
Some key learnings/surprises from the journey so far include the following:
- As I’ve become more intentional in my learning and reflective on my leadership I’ve been made aware of how far I have to go. The great irony is that when you truly dive in to learn and grow it reveals how much you don’t know and how much there is to learn. This has been discouraging at times, e.g. studying with some brilliant people at Oxford has put me in my place and been humbling in many ways, but mostly I’ve been encouraged by the fact that there will always be so many ways to grow and improve…We never have to be done or resigned to things being exactly as they are…we can learn, and grow and change. To be reminded of this at this stage of life has been a fantastic gift.
- The Fellowship has forced me to slow down and reflect. So much of my life is at full tilt, moving too fast from thing to thing without pausing enough to draw the lessons I can from each activity or chapter. The Fellowship framework has allowed me to be more thoughtful and intentional in the process. I have been keep a running document where I am putting each new learning/idea.
- This first year has also helped me to see that I am at a pivot point in my leadership. Up until now it has largely been about me climbing the mountain of success as I’ve defined it. While I have done this in the service of a cause that has been about others, the day to day has, crassly, been about me. I’ve been sensing, and the fellowship has been confirming, that it is time to shift that paradigm and that this next chapter will be about others – how do I spend the second half working to empower, encourage, and equip younger leaders to fulfill their dreams and ambitions in their efforts to address some of the world’s great challenges? The fellowship has just added to an abundance of diverse life and work experiences and relationships and I feel like I am in the process of learning how to steward these to help build and grow more authentic leaders and redemptive organizations.
-This time has also caused me to think more deeply about what it means to lead the organization I founded 11 years ago. In the same spirit as my last point, it is now about creating space and opportunity for my team. We are out of the hard charging days of establishing ourselves now about becoming a well run and growing organization. I have a lot of work to do to position us for the next chapter.
- Finally, the Fellowship has been a constant reminder to practice the greatest of all virtues – Gratitude. This year, right up to this very moment of crossing the English countryside by train, has been a series of undeserved blessings. I’m reminding myself often of what a gift this fellowship, and all that it is enabling, is for me in this season.