March of 2016 seems like much more than 2+ years ago. Under the current circumstances it seems like a world - and lifetime - ago.
I think as I began my Fellowship I understood clearly what a totally unique and once in a life time experience it represented. A former fellow wisely told me to PAY ATTENTION to all the moments that the Fellowship would offer and capture them. They promised that If I did this, I would have a life time to reflect on those different moments.
So I begin with a string of moments, in no particular order, that unfolded for me these last couple years...A snowy walk with fellow Fellow Nick Tilsen through downtown Minneapolis - two different backgrounds, two different missions, but a bond felt and experienced...A long hiking trip through the Blue Ridge Mountains with one of my oldest and best friends, getting lost, and yet not caring much and having fun...noting it as an apt metaphor for friendship - beauty, adventure, just being together. The bells of Oxford...A dream that began at 21, as college was ending, to study at Oxford...Believing at the time I missed my chance, instead it just a dream deferred...25+ years. Running along the Thames, taking exams in ancient halls, debating important topics with new friends from around the world at 500 year old pubs...Everything and more that I imagined it might be, actually happening. Most importantly, thinking deeply on what it means to lead well in this time and place. Standing on the edge of the Grand Canyon, under a million stars - and contemplating my small place in the Universe and then running across the Canyon as the sun crossed the sky. Suffering well. A year later standing in the same place - this time with 20 friends who followed me out to repeat the journey. A metaphor for replicating and sharing the gift of this Fellowship - for a lifetime. Starting classes at Georgetown - being given words for what it means to coach and be coached. Seeing the gift that I can offer others, helping them name and understand the unique leadership call on their lives. A Bike ride across a city that is reckoning with its painful past, questioning my part in that pain...Seeing clearly a small idea of something I can do as my Fellowship ends to pay forward all I have been given.
My fellowship began as the organization I founded was turning 10 years old, I was celebrating my 25th Wedding anniversary and my oldest child was graduating from college...It ends as I am turning 50 and as I send (I hope) our youngest off to college and begin this next season of life. Lots of milestones surrounding the start and completion of this journey. It also feels poignant to be finishing the chapter in what is arguably the most challenging season our country and world has faced in many years. There is no sense of status quo or "aren't we in a great place." It is painfully obvious that this is an all hands on deck moment of trying to care for other, serve others, use my voice in helpful and just ways.
The Fellowship has been an intentional season of reflecting on what it means to lead well. Some takeaways for me...It is about listening more and listening better. Two ears, one mouth. It is about serving and loving others - putting their needs and desires above my own. It is about giving away and sharing power. It is more poetry than prose. It is about asking the right question, and then the next right question...and then the next. It is not about my answers. It is about getting out of the fray and up onto the balcony to really see what is happening. It is about long walks and runs, prayers and scriptures, breathing, and sleeping long hours and doing the things that feed my body and soul and enable me to show up as the best possible version of myself. It is about looking for that 3rd way rather than the two entrenched views...finding common ground. It is about being open and constantly willing to learn - remaining grounded in timeless values but remaining mentally supple. It is about being an advocate...using my voice and privilege on behalf of worthwhile things.
It will take many years to fully process all that these two years have meant. When an experience is as rich and as good in real time as this time has been I know that the memories and lessons will be with me for a lifetime. This has been a season of taking in...Feasting - this next season will be about stewarding all of this feasting for the greater good - turning these nutrients into muscle for the journey ahead. I am grateful.