How has your understanding of your own leadership changed through the Fellowship to date?
I’m recognizing that successful leadership for me rests on being part of creating collective containers that can hold tension. At this moment, I'm reflecting a lot on the tension between urgency and slowness. In health justice work, there are issues that constantly demand urgency. People and communities are actively being harmed by oppressive systems (and finding ways to resist and survive). Operating out of urgency, however, can unwittingly reproduce oppressive power dynamics. Rushing to act inevitably excludes voices, simplifies complexity, and allows heroics to undermine collective action. I’ve been learning from leaders who invite slowness, pause, and restoration as central to their leadership practices. Such practices are meant not to diminish courageous action in the face of injustice but to strengthen and sustain it over the long haul. Figuring out how to titrate slowness and urgency as a leader is a craft that I’m learning to feel my way through.
I’ve also been learning about ways to intentionally build relationality into my leadership practices. I’m seeing relationships not as a means to something else but as a superpower end all in themselves with the mind-blowing potential to radically change systems. Through that lens, spending thirty minutes of a one-hour meeting checking in and deepening relationships IS the work. Taking time to learn where someone finds purpose and meaning in their life and reciprocally sharing my own IS the work. Taking time to story-tell and -listen IS the work. That work takes us to wildly imaginative places that are off-limits without the boundary-smashing energy of relationship.
Finally, I’ve learned that some of the most enjoyable leadership can be that which gets people scratching their heads. As I chart a course that increasingly links performance, playwriting, generative somatics, and storytelling with care-giving, I invariably encounter folks who are puzzled and confused by what I’m doing. To me, their perplexity signals that I’m on the right track towards something new, something dislodged from the rutted-ness of a health system not designed for equity and justice.
At this point, I remain very much an active learner, seeking to integrate all the incredible experiences and wisdom opened to me by the Bush Fellowship into my own emerging leadership.