This fellowship without question has been the most impactful growth point of my professional journey (and one of my most significant personal learning curves as well). Prior to this experience I would have said that my leadership journey required two key things...a servant mindset and a certain type of fortitude...an endurance of sorts that pushes the limits of 'what is' in order to expose 'what could be'.
I have always been a mission bearer...that person in the organization who focuses resolutely on why we are all here, who we are here for, and what outcome those we serve deserve most... That said, my learning in the past 18 months has sculpted a new set of ideas underneath those original ones. I found myself talking over and over (to self) and others about seeking opportunities to "go to scale"...to serve "more people in more ways with more impact"... and what I missed was that I have never taken my own self-value to scale. Self-care is a direct reflection of my self-value/self-worth. Taking a mission to scale sounds impressive and may in fact produce impressive outcomes; however, if we do not take our own self-care to scale then what fuel do we really believe we are using to do this missional work? We are in fact our own parasite and our own destroyer. Secondly (and more importantly), if we do not prioritize the visibility of our own life; what makes us believe that we truly care about the lives of others? If I truly care about the lives of others I will model that belief...I will value "me" as a special and valuable divine creation...I will help others, not to build myself up in a narcissistic way, but to really reflect my beliefs back to my relationships that I believe we all matter in a deeply profound way.
I have said this before...that self-care in 'organizations' tends to be a message that encourages us to take care of ourselves SO THAT we can plug back in and serve the organization more effectively... Those soft skills and emotional management skills tend to be about our ability to hold more while the flow of "more" keeps coming... Something in that reasoning is off to me. I cannot help but notice that the focus is either on the organization, the needs of others, or the expectations of our profession. But the focus is rarely on the self for the purpose of just doing the right thing for this one person, me. And I have found that taking care of me reflects back to me and others that I consider life precious, mine included...That I consider the value of one mind's dreams to be invaluable, mine included...That I believe in the power and worth of one person impacting just one life, mine included.
Curiously I can hear those voices that say this is an indulgent and self-centered pattern of thinking and yet I know they do not understand that the most giving thing I can do is to invest in myself so I do not disappear into a frenzy of energy spinning around the lives of others in order to stay in some kind of orbit or relevance. So at the end of today as I write this I am now seeking how to treat myself as sacred without compromising the sacredness of others. My servant heart cannot be the cause of my invisibility. It has to in fact amplify the sanctity of one small (or loud) voice so the greater number is lifted up.