When I first started my leadership journey I feel like I had a mindset that was more focused on growing my public persona and influence more broadly. My fellowship also started before COVID. It felt like it was more about making connections, landing speaking engagements, traveling, expanding my network etc. I was more focused on these vehicles to achieving influence. I also think it was earlier in my term as mayor. My understanding of leadership has drastically changed now that I’m two years into my term as mayor, since COVID has impacted us all and since the beginning of my fellowship journey and I’m thankful for it. Instead of focusing on external and what sometimes felt superficial leadership opportunities, I have really pivoted my leadership journey to focus on getting to know myself as a being and have turned inward. At the beginning I was constantly going from thing to thing and now I’m focusing on taking things off my plate and creating boundaries of self-love and self-care. I’ve moved from quantity to quality. Now, I find myself taking what I used to see as complex and find ways to simplify it. My leadership journey has led me to more frequently asking questions like, “what do I need today”, “how am I showing myself love and respect”, “what am I feeling”, and “how can I lead from a place that is grounded, compassionate and wise right now?”. I’m no longer thinking about what is next but the quality of life I want to live and how my leadership plays into this.
I’m realizing that my leadership journey is not about moving up any career, political or social ladder or becoming a public influencer, but it’s about living in alignment with my true and authentic self and living freely. Free from social, political or career expectations, living free of financial debt and burden, unlearning and healing old traumas and unhealthy ways of coping and learning to truly love and respect myself. When you develop your leadership in this way, from the inside out, I am seeing and experiencing that you are leading in a more impactful way than if you are chasing external ideas and serotypes of leadership. Additionally, as a woman of color, taking this approach to leadership is how we can break generational trauma and show young girls of color how to live a meaningful life of leadership rooted in self-love and authenticity. My life in many ways is feeling more meaningful because of my leadership journey and self-care and growing my spirituality has been central this leadership growth.
People are starving for authentic leadership, we have been stripped of tools of knowing who we are and living freely. My goal as a leader is now to come as close as I can in this life-time to my truest self and to my higher self and to function in this world from that place of connection where fear is not a barrier and I can continue to make hard decisions as a leader because I know that they are rooted in my values and care and compassion for my community. Leading by example is the most impactful thing I can do because it shows a path of deep self-love, authenticity, bravery and resilience and right now we need this kind of leadership to spread within and among all of us who have been oppressed and silenced. Owning ourselves again is the path to freedom.