Report date
May 2022
Learning Log

As the end of my fellowship nears and I reflect on the many ways I have grown as a leader, the biggest AHA in terms of understanding my own leadership is that I don't self-doubt as much anymore. I spent almost two years immersing myself in various activities that would ultimately lead to my overall development. I was intentional in making sure that the growth would not just be intellectual, but rather holistic. I completed an Executive Leadership course at Harvard Kennedy School and participated in several other academic development opportunities like conferences or self-paced online curricula. I networked with peers in different circles (fellows, classmates, and community collaborators) and read many books, as well as other self-development resources. I also enrolled the guidance of mentors and embraced being uncomfortable as I engaged with sectors outside my typical consulting spheres. More importantly I took time to enroll support as I sought to heal the trauma I never had the means nor the time to address. Looking back, I don't think I was even ready to revisit my past deliberately until I embarked on this fellowship experience. When I reflected deeply on what I truly needed to be a more efficient leader, it became clear that part of me will always be stuck unless I am honest with myself and brave enough to break open. With a new level of vulnerability and the assistance of professionals, the healing journey of my long buried emotional wounds begun. As my understanding of my own leadership grew, I also started to practice self-care more consistently. I also developed a more sustainable physical activity routine. This fellowship has, thus far, allowed me to nurture my mind, body, and spirit. The beautiful result is that I am now more confident than ever before and feel better equipped to listen to what I need to continue growing. My way of leading has been enhanced with the knowledge I am absorbing and the new practices I am learning. I now lead with more grace and empathy not only towards others but also myself. I take breaks whenever I need to and frequently remind myself that I am good enough. I feel more whole, more present, more self-aware, more alive, and more in tune with who I am as a leader. I understand better my unique skill sets, the issues I am best suited to help solve, and my limitations. Focusing on my own leadership is, indeed, impacting every aspect of my work and overall life. I have this fellowship experience to thank.
As previously referred to, another major growth area has been prioritizing my self-care. Taking time to just “be” has been as important, if not more, than crossing items off my endless “to do” lists. I have added to my calendar activities supporting my emotional well-being including blocking time for naps, sitting and staring at the birds in my backyard trees, listening to soothing music, going on frequent coffee dates with friends, and even watching an entire season of Shitt’s Creek, one of my favorite mindless shows. My self-care interests have also included extracting myself from my usual environments and completely unplugging from everything electronics while “staycationing” solo at the new Jasper Hotel downtown Fargo. Additionally, I have taken vacation in farther places like Cape Town, South Africa where I got to tour as many Apartheid-related museums and sites as I could. As part of my leadership development journey, I am interested in advancing civic engagement within underrepresented group members in my community of Fargo-Moorhead. Visiting South Africa with its long history of segregation was a way to balance learning and resting. Looking at activities that I can easily incorporate in my self-care routine beyond the fellowship, massage therapy ranks high. Similarly, feet reflexology which I recently discovered left me feeling truly replenished. I no longer view self-care is a splurge or something to feel guilty about like I used too. Because of the way it has allowed me to rejuvenate, I now see self-care as essential. It's, indeed, a responsibility to tend to my whole body. That practice has helped me be more astute with my body needs. I am a better leader when I am relaxed and less tense. I am also a better steward in my work when I take time to recharge. It took me two years of new routines to come to that conclusion and to truly understand how to grow as a human “being” instead of a human “doing”. I am now passing that wisdom to my children, mentees, as well as my work collaborators.