In this first year of my fellowship I have learned a great deal about the importance of attitude in leadership. In my most challenging moments over the past year I have found that if I could make up my mind in my head that I was going to get something solved or get something done and convinced myself I could do it that this thinking helped to propel me forward. When I am focused on a goal and achieving an outcome if I can focus on visualizing the positive outcome of what I wish to achieve hit helps me to keep my fear at bay and it helps me to keep the momentum going. I also think this attitude rubs off on those around me and that my team picks up on this too. I am thinking this is the most important thing for me to be conscious of on a daily basis.
I have learned how powerful and paralyzing fear can be. Fear sets the stage for negative thinking and worse case scenario thinking and when I get into that space I lose all clarity, positivity and thoughtful action to propel me forward. I have found that being overcome with fear is the single most destructive thing I can allow myself to do. I have been working on catching it sooner and mentally changing tracks…I visualize a train changing tracks and try to direct my thinking in the same way. I am getting better at it, which is the good news but I find that the farther down the fear track I get the harder it is for me to switch it up.
The other big learning in this first year of the fellowship is the importance of being present. My 107 mile Camino walk taught me this. I had a random old man, who appeared to be a farmer, walk up to me during my Camino walk and in Spanish he asked me to pray for him in Santiago (the town at the end of the Pilgrimage. He handed me a walking stick that he had shaved the bark off of and the stick had two twigs on each side near the top so that it looked like a cross. I promised to carry his stick to Santiago and to pray for him. I had over 50 miles to walk – another 4 days of walking and I couldn’t believe how hard it was for me to remember this stick. Every time I stopped for a break or stopped for lunch, I was always forgetting the stick and my fellow walkers in my group were always reminding me to get my stick. I realized how I needed to be very present in order to remember the stick if I was to fulfill my promise to the farmer. What an interesting experience this was. The good news is that I made it to Santiago, with the stick in hand! I decided to plant the stick in Fisterra, a town that is knows at the end of the world, it looks over the ocean and this is where many people who have walked the 500 mile long pilgrimage bring their hiking boots and clothes and burn them as a ceremony to the pilgrimage. I planted the stick, overlooking the ocean for its final resting place. It felt good to do this!
I was amazed at how much calmer I was after this trip. I felt grounded, positive and present and I think I came back to my team and my project a better leader. The trick is managing to keep this sense of well being going longer than 24 hours…it didn’t take much to throw me off track, and so this is life and something I need to keep working at but at least now I know what I need to get in this grounded space. I need to disconnect from technology. I need to be out in nature and exercising and I need to make time to reflect. This is something I plan to make a priority moving forward.