Congratulations on becoming a Bush Fellow! Please take the time to take it all in - the congratulatory calls, texts, and emails - because you deserve it. I know that the journey to this moment for each of us was different, however, the goal of becoming a better leader is something that we all share. You're joining a group of individuals that wake up everyday ready to positively transform the world around them. Once you connect with your cohort, you will be amazed by their work and how much you will learn from each of them both directly and indirectly. Prepare for your network to be even stronger!
The opportunity to become a Bush Fellow could not have come at a better time for me. It is very rare that you get access to resources and the permission to invest in yourself on your own terms. The Fellowship is key to helping me reclaim my voice, redefine my purpose, and reinvigorate my impact as I transition from my role as Commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development. Yes, I've been through transition before but this time is by far different. I'm pretty much consciously leaving a position of power to venture down a path of uncertainty. I made the decision to take time off from "formal work" to truly prepare for the next chapter of my career and focus on me and my family. This is both exciting and scary!
To navigate the change in front of me, I developed my Fellowship plan to include several components: Self-care (Over the years I've pushed my self to the limit and renewal is needed. I will focus on improving my physical, spiritual and mental health with the goal of achieving centered leadership); Business acumen (I recently obtained my executive MBA which exposed me to the needed tools to successfully run my businesses and push forth shared prosperity); Creative and Exponential thinking (I will be attending a design thinking bootcamp and participating in an executive leadership program to become exposed to new ideas and models in order to deliver smarter solutions); and Discipline (I'm working with an executive coach that is holding me accountable to my plan and pushing me to develop a new competitive advantage in order to win).
So what have I learned thus far?
I will get straight to the point. Sometimes we find ourselves either thinking about all the things that we want to do but never put a plan in place to make it happen. This leads to those missed opportunities that weigh so heavily on us and ultimately get in the way of our future success. I'm learning each day to plan, prepare and then proceed knowing that there will be times when things may not meet my expectations or it just won't get done. The Bush Fellowship is about vision, evolution, and realistic action.
In one of my monthly reflections, I described feeling like I've been operating like a duck floating in a Minnesota Lake - calm on the surface but kicking like crazy underwater trying to move. As a leader you will learn that there will be times when you have to keep pushing forward even when the path to the destination and the distance is unknown and things are out of control. However, as long as you've identified the destination and committed to doing the necessary work to succeed, you will arrive. More often than not it will be all good. If not, you get back in the water and get to kicking!
There is this great quote by Oprah Winfrey and what I call my "5BEs" which have put my fellowship into perspective and practice. "Understand that the right to choose your own path is a sacred privilege. Use it. Dwell in the possibility" - Oprah Winfrey. A simple, but powerful quote.
I've learned that you must BE before you can DO. So everyday I strive to achieve my "5BEs" on this leadership journey. They are as follows: BE Present; BE Teachable; BE Prepared; BE Accountable and BE the Life of you own Party.
- BE Present is about focusing on the important tasks. In this time of information abundance, one can easily normalize the distractions. I'm working to develop strategies to unplug and focus on embracing the moment because real-time experience leads to greater learning.
- BE Teachable is about seeking wisdom from people and places (yes, you can be selective) unlike you and not attaching to a comfortable script. A few years ago I discovered the Buddhist concept of Shoshin or having a beginners mind full of openness and eagerness.
- BE Prepared is about taking the time to invest in one's talent to be ready for the seen and unseen. Do the work!
- BE Accountable is about anchoring your intentions into the desired outcomes that you seek. Much of the Fellowship is a solo journey so it is critically important that you are serious about doing what's necessary to accomplish your plan.
- BE the Life of Your Own Party is about celebrating the wins when they happen. Yes, there will be challenges along the way. Embrace them, that's where the character building will come from. Savor each moment and enjoy it all (dancing is encouraged)!
Like the quote, the 5BEs are simple to memorize but so hard to do! I challenge you to try them. I guarantee that everyday will be a new day to become better.
In closing, I'm still processing this amazing opportunity in front of me while managing the overwhelm. I've been blessed with a rewarding career thus far and I believe that my best years are in front me.
Because of the Bush Fellowship, I'm well positioned to have even greater impact. I'm looking forward to continuing the work to build an economy that is rooted in equitable policies and practices and focused on assets, access and action. It has been an honor to be called a Fellow and I will be forever grateful to the Bush Foundation for investing in my path and allowing me to play an active role in the trajectory of my future. I'm so excited for you to chart and navigate your way and of course, join this badass club of leaders!