As I approach the midway part of my fellowship I am really proud and excited of some of the things I have been able to do and also disappointed I have not explored more. One Challenge that surprised me is how fast it goes by. It seems like yesterday that we were all together learning about new fellows, plans and a new journey. It has been exciting but challenging to juggle everyday life and to be able to take time and invest in myself personally while balancing it with my current job. It is even more difficult when I am intertwining my project with my job. I would not of thought making time to invest in myself and focusing on projects would go by so fast or I would lack time. I imagine, most fellows are high performers and busy people invested in projects or a cause. Although my projects align with my personal and professional goals, the amount of time to concentrate or separate them is often hard to find or time goes by before I get an opportunity to follow through on it.
I am learning that my leadership is connected to who I am and where I am from. I went to The Gambia when I was young to learn about my families culture but I was away for so long I had forgotten a lot of what I learned. I should say I thought I forgot but it was in my soul I just did not recognize it. I realized and was surprised so much of who I am as a leader came from my childhood days in Africa and how I connected to the community, how the community raised me and the values the community instilled in me as important. I learned to celebrate people, and the pride people in Africa take at being able to help others. I also understand what pride and celebration they take in seeing me or one of theirs give back. Going through life you always want to be connected and know who you are. When I got a chance to go back to Africa and to my grandfather’s village which I visited as a youth I saw people that remembered me as a child. I did not recognize all of it but I felt it. I was shown the village by the people and heard story over story of where I used play, who I used play with, and that I was always a proud Nyancho. At the end of it the whole village was chanting “Tony, Tony, Tony”, at that moment, although I have had millions of fans calling my name, cheering for me, I felt at home, and I felt I know where I came from and that the energy, power, drive, and direction that motivates me to lead and connect to the whole community and be a positive piece of it.
Another piece that really stands out is it is ok to invest in things I do not do well. It is ok not to do everything, and it is ok to value my time. It has always been very difficult for me to have people do things for me. It has been especially hard if those things were task. I am learning to take the responsibility to share and work with others to help and support me with administrative task that not only gives me more time to lead, and support my organization but it also helps share information with my colleagues because more people in the organization know what is going on. Often I keep a lot of information, not because I am hiding it or do not want to share it, but for the mere reason if it is not getting done, I may just go and do it. Communicating with others and asking others to help me plan and execute on some of the items really helps me have more time for myself and maximize the return our organization gets on my time. I am learning that some things like folding my laundry relaxes me, and helps me get my mind off of things, but having someone support my calendar, prep me for meetings and actually take meetings frees up time, gives me balance and more productive.
I also learned that my leadership can be seen in those around me. As I look to grow, I must be open to listening, engaging, empowering and celebrating my co-workers and peers. With so much going on, listening has been a challenge, and even more so when I make it a priority. I am quick to act, slow anazlye. I feel like I process and analyze instantly, which often causes problems because emotion or fear play into my decisions. By listening I have found that I can better plan and not react supporting me make better decisions, with a clearer mind and thought process. I am almost half over, and it has been a lot but no one knew this, Covid-19, but it is challenging me to group adapt and face realities.