So I've come to the end of this amazing journey as a Bush Fellow. There are so many emotions about this chapter of my life that I'm still looking for words to describe. So many that it's hard for me to even begin to articulate what has changed for me or what to highlight. First, let me say that I leave this chapter with no regrets for the path I took on this journey. I've learned so much about myself and have grown as a leader at least threefold from where I started and yet I have so far yet to go. I've pushed myself to be a stronger strategist and build my instinct and decision-making skills in such a way that I can distill the appropriate strategy or plan for any given scenario much quicker than I could before. I think this is an important skill for leading because once you know where you are going and the likely path you want to begin on you can quickly turn your focus to the people you are leading and build ways to inspire and direct their energy to the collective.
Secondly, I'm much more aware of my personal health and well being. I have developed an internal warning system to remind myself that self-care is needed. This self-care comes in many forms such as working out and eating well, changing my environments by way of travel, as well as using mindfulness practices that allow me to recenter my mind and clear headspace to move forward. This has been a tremendous skill that I've built over this journey that has propelled me further and allows me the strength and clarity to stay in the work of community leadership. Without the self-awareness or tools to take care of myself, I'd likely not produce impact and/or would burn out too soon.
I'm much more confident in my ability to lead large efforts, and I don't second guess my approach and what's needed. This is very useful and needed in the work of challenging systems both internally to our community as well as the external ones that are impacting our community. We need confidence, not arrogance, to meet the demands and needs of our community. Confidence allows you to form an appropriate approach and plan but yet have the ability to listen to the many voices and adapt your plan. Self-doubt will allow others to hijack your approach and often times derails your momentum, which also decreases other's confidence in you as their leader. Being confident in who you are and the approach you believe is appropriate, provides you the space to respond to those that believe they are gatekeeps and will step in your way to derail your leadership.
What still evades me in my growth and development of my leadership is my ability to know what I want and to go after it. I often times believe I'm doing what I do because of an obligation to others or that if I don't do it then who will. This is at times self-defeating because I lose energy or passion for the work because of the various obstacles and complexities for the change I believe is necessary. I often joke that I will leave all of this work to move to an island and sell coconuts. Though this is a joke I find myself in a state of looking over my shoulder and wondering did I go down the right path. What I have been told and I'm working on incorporating is that there isn't a right or singular path and that there is a time in which this path will make sense and that I must look forward and be aware that there will be other paths to take down the road. I suppose this is something that will keep me focused on having a solid vision and strategy for the work I'm in and a relentless drive to set the work up in a way that won't depend on my individual leadership but creates the space for new leadership to step up in my absence or departure.
I'll leave you with this as a closing quote from the late artist Nipsey Hussle in hopes that it will inspire you in your journey into leadership: "You gotta go hard, you gotta believe in yourself. You gotta have a sense of humor to know that the bullshit is gonna happen, you can't be too serious about it or too emotional and fake when the bullshit happens. You gotta just stick to the script, believe and have an overwhelming confidence. Be your own biggest fan, your own biggest believer and put it on your back and carry the weight...Find your Purpose or you're wasting air"