After spending the first few months of fellowship stressing about how to incorporate a formal leadership training into my life (see early monthly logs) I was blessed with some other-worldly wisdom saying, “let that shit go”. Since this revelation, I have taken an entirely organic approach to my leadership development. Instead of seeking teachers, workshops, and conferences in leadership, I have directed my attention and intention inward and accepted opportunities to “just show up”. Hands down, the most surprising take away of my leadership development is in fact, truly showing up.
While I don’t for a moment discredit formal leadership training (as I clearly have no context) I can say that taking the path in front of me one step at a time, trusting that I am heading in the right direction has been the right leadership training for me (the coaching calls have been great too). This organic type of leadership training has primarily been about reframing myself in my own eyes as a leader, which for me was a leap. It would seem that when a moment has arisen in which I think I really know my Self, that I have been driven even deeper. This self-work has led me into paths of leadership via the avenues of self-trust, self-awareness and self-confidence. In August of last year if you had asked me if I would be publishing, working on lobbying, or on the board of our professional midwifery organization I would have definitively answered “no”. Yet here I am working on a 3rd publication with an amazing researcher who has graciously become a mentor (and friend). I have been wading into the policy world via doula legislation and more recently with our MN ACNM (American College of Nurse Midwives) affiliate group regarding a bill to maternity care shortage issues. Also, I am now a student representative on our state ACNM board. In retrospect for me this is all surprising, mainly because while it has stretched me, it has all been quite a natural progression.
Still, while the progression has been natural, I remain acutely aware of the issue of access in the policy and research world, and in the representation of people of color and LGBTQ folks in professional leadership. It has been immensely clear to me over the past year that while there is plenty of lip service given to inclusion and including an authentic voice in all of these areas, that in practice most of these institutions (made up of people) still don’t know what to do with “us”. There is a tremendous amount of learning to be done in order to make these places safe for everyone to participate in. Quite frankly, some of this boils down to inclusion being a fact. There has been a very real segregation and repression for so long that as society wakes up to how much richer an inclusive world will be, there is just so, so much education to be done. Here again, much of this has to do with showing up – the all of us. . My approach thus far has been to mix things up between different circles in my life as often and as messily as I possibly can wherever it seemingly makes sense to do so. I still feel much more comfortable in the grass roots arena, but I am learning through this showing up approach that there are really fantastic people in the professional arena that I resonate with, who are getting “it” and who truly value this vision of a world with many worlds.
Showing up has been the main take away of my leadership training this year, and it crosses through all sectors of life. We have to show up for ourselves, for our partners, for our children, for our community, for our workplace, for our passions. This sounds like an impossible amount of time and energy, but I would argue that it actually takes less energy than the opposite which is not showing up, and instead complaining, worrying, or being sad or angry about any or all of those areas. Bringing the corners of all of these seemingly divided areas together has been dynamic, interesting and certainly never dull. I have been heartened by the people I have met along the way, and am energized for the year to come.