Don't under estimate the power of this opportunity. You have made it this far because you are a leader, you do good work and you are actively changing the world. This opportunity is different than every single opportunity that has come before. It allows you to not just focus on the change you seek in the world but how you do it and how you are in it.
This has been an amazing journey. It actually reminds me of Sundance one of our powerful Lakota ceremonies. In Sundance we fast, dance in the sun, we listen to the power of the drum and we pray for guidance and direction. Throughout this process we reflect and we grow. Most importantly this fellowship similar to the Sundance holds up to the mirror to our selves as human beings. Looking in that mirror is hard. There are things that I have liked about looking in the mirror but also things that I haven’t liked, things that need to be improved, things that need to change and growth that is an absolute must in order to continue. I came into this fellowship hoping to focused on my growth, hoping to find and build skills that will allow me to be a better father and family man while still fighting for a better future for my people. I have done many of things that have been laid out in my fellowship plan.
I successfully transitioned out of the Executive Director role of the organization that I created over a decade ago. It was hard, it was challenging it was beautiful, stressful and it’s still not over. But this fellowship has allowed me the breathing room needed. I have had the opportunity to talk to over a dozen organizational and movement leaders throughout the United States to talk about healthy transition, leadership development, letting go and allowing my self to move on.
I have gotten reconnected to my families land, reconnected to the horses we now have on the land and the healing and medicine they bring. I have sat with elders, politicians, leaders and every day people including with the homeless camp on the wall of forgotten natives on Franklin Ave.
I have attempted to do healing work with counselors and hear from my children how I can improve as a father and still be a leader. My children of expressed their anger, pain, distrust and feelings of abandonment. These were the hardest things I have experienced and continue to experience. My children feel animosity towards my work because it has taken me from them time after to time. This is an area that I am not sure I have made much progress on. I know there is more pain there then I have ever imagined. Some of it because I work to much and have put much so much energy into changing the system and not enough time into my family. As I write this I have tears, because this is the hardest challenge of my life. I wish I could say that I am walking on water and this fellowship has opened every door of opportunity but I am not there. But it has opened the door of healing and growth. At the moment I am in, I am in the thick of it. I am in a very challenging moment. I feel that the next months will have a very large impact on what the future of my leadership and life will look like. I have began studying leaders like Che, Martin, Malcom and Russel and how they have both failed their families while building movements that changed their world. I have studied there success as well as their short comings.
On the professional side my work, career and movement building continues to grow quickly and powerfully rendering lots of financial support, collaboration, creativity and opportunity. I am recruiting an amazing group of Indigenous change makers that are helping to build a revolutionary organization called the NDN Collective.
So yes this has been a journey like no other. In October my community and the organization I worked for, for the last 10 years of my life had an honoring for me. There were speakers, food, anties, uncles, community people. To thank me for my service and all that I have done. I of course didn’t want them to honor me in this way and it was hard for me to accept. Goes against teachings of humility but not going would have made it about me and not the people. So I went my heart was touched by all the lives I have had the opportunity to be apart of through the years. It was a point of reflection. But in the midst of all this love, support and recognition. I was lonely.. See during this fellowship the relationship with my companion ended our blended family turned into two separate homes and there was hurt and bitterness. I have four children three of them didn’t want to come to the honoring. Maybe they were being teenagers but most likely they were bitter. My 8 year son Jozaya came and enjoyed his self. I embraced him while I wept. Longing for my children and family that has changed, Longing for a day when leadership wasn’t so lonely. I share this only because it is the truth, it is the journey I have been on. There are many things I need to change and improve on and I have worked really hard to be transparent with my self. Allow my self to share the hurt and embrace the love. My journey is a very long time from being over and the second half of my fellowship will only have me diving deeper and harder. Striving for my learning edge both emotionally, professionally and simply as a whole person.
I will keep diving deep, my family is worth it, my children are worth it, the change I seek in this world is worth it. I stand here in the midst of this fellowship with the future unknown but being completely ok with that. Because letting go is coming……. but I am still holding on, holding back, there is growth in front of me I can see it and I am leaning towards it. This has been my fellowship journey. But it is not over and I will not give up.
Dont obsess about your fellowship plan It will take turns and curves as you do it. Don't take this opportunity for granted my relatives because there is very few opportunities like this that exist. Keep pushing your self to hold up the mirror. Have the courage to make the changes you want to change no matter how challenging it may seem. Because in the end the imprint we leave in this world is not just about what we accomplished but the intent in which we did it. If your fellow you already know the loneliness of leadership. but don't let it consume you. Sit in this discomfort of it all and remember the true vulnerability is a sign of strength not weakness. You are destine to do great things but surrendering to the fact that you cannot control the things that happen in this life is imperative for you to keep leaning forward, keep growing, keep fighting and in the end this opportunity will change your life and you will inevitably grow from this opportunity. Your transparency in your struggle well attract some of the most amazing conversations you will ever have and they often come from the places least expected. in the midst of the storm I still feel blessed, honored and privilege to have this opportunity. This fellowship came at a turning point in my life and in my leadership. The path forward is starting to become more clear and its challenging to find the strength to keep moving forward in uncharted territory. If you haven't had an Executive caching session yet then do it, it can be remarkable and will help you navigate this opportunity and captain the ship of your leadership growth. Remember that you are worthy, that you are amazing and the world requires your leadership.