Report date
January 2022
Learning Log

I've had myriad of insights about my leadership since becoming a Bush Fellow. Although, I've long recognized my cultural adaptability, it's been only in the last year that I've translated that into leadership praxis. So if I'm in a traditional Hmong situation or environment, I exert my own leadership in ways that often require active listening or less visible roles. Also, if I'm testifying in the legislature or being interviewed by mainstream media, I'm ultra-conscious of my cultural and ethnic representation and apply leadership in ways to advance racial equity overtly. Whatever the cultural context, I'm connecting my ancestral sense of accountability and identity for ecological impact. I'm constantly shifting across languages, codes, and stress levels to ensure my leadership approach matches the cultural terrain while preserving core values. However, I'm noticing in my efforts to fit leadership approach to cultural context, it's easy to mesh too easily. This can create harmony and perpetuate the very dynamics and conditions; I'm trying to transform or evolve. Thus, my level of discernment has been on an all-time high as I'm more skeptical of my gratitude, contentment, and overall alignment with my atmosphere. This constant surveillance of and integrity check has undoubtedly made deep serenity difficult to experience. It's also made me less happy even in the face of so much resource and opportunity. But I'm more committed than ever to not singularly pursue and prioritize a happy life, rather a good life, that is rich with contemplation, high impact, and rigor. This has made my leadership feel overwhelming at times and embedded with discontent. Leading with and through principled adaptation and self-interrogation has fostered a dual edge of ferocity and joy within me. The edges of my continuum have expanded horizontally and vertically. The recognition I have about my leadership is that my range and depth is beyond my line of sight. Although I do not dwell in any quadrant or terrain, I'm developing the leadership vision and skills to traverse and grow my continuum.
In terms of focusing on my own leadership, I confess an initial sense of selfishness and hoarding of resources. Perhaps, it was refugee residue or some form of post-nomadic stress syndrome...but I wasn't completely comfortable (still am not) with making my own leadership a focal point. To be honest, I still scrutinize any detection of western and Eurocentric notions of leadership and even self-actualization. Key turning and consoling points for me has been a dialogue with Audre Lorde, my parents, and other movement leaders that frame my specific leadership in an ecological and intergenerational way. As I've come to see and understand my personal leadership as personification of collective values, I've affirmed and charged ahead with developing my leadership to be an honorable link ...rather than a remarkable individual. Beyond this early hesitance to prioritize my leadership, I'm tilting hard in the direction of creating leadership accelerants. I'm certainly committed to steady and patient progress, but my fellowship has afforded and instilled within me a desire to evolve exponentially. I do not have privilege or luxury to wait and bide my time for natural wisdom. For sure, the value and concept of equity and leadership "accelerants" have occupied my mind, as time as a fellow is sunsetting soon. May be too much of an existential leap, but the fleeting sense of my fellowship also magnifies my realization of my limited lifetime. Legacy planning is not quite the mission I'm in, but I am actively ensuring that I'm leaving fingerprints and making my presence impactful. Cliche or not, I'm realizing that prioritizing my leadership is essential for community and structural transformation. I'm done being with fears of self-absorption or hubris, so many forces and people outside of my individual effort have aspired for not only my opportunity...rather my materialization and execution of hope.
For so long self-care, for me, was an ideal and amenity at best. Parts of my mind still are conditioned to believe that since even having the ability to care for oneself requires fortunate resources and circumstance beyond will power and understanding. Caring for myself has always been a balance of mental, social, and physical health. Currently, I see self-care as essential, unabashed, and deeply woven with all my leadership priorities. This is not an affirmation of Maslow's hierarchy of needs, but self-actualization or fulfillment connects the existential with physical self-care. My fellowship has shed light on self-care both as remedy for what I've endured and as sustenance for the adversity that remains. When I confront and peer ahead, the magnitude of fear, suffering, uncertainty confirms for me...a great need to nurture and care for me self heavily and consistently now, as my leadership will necessitate inner conflict, disappointment, and failures. The magnitude of challenges and heartache that I know will be inevitable and signs of long-range progress and nature, shape my prioritization of self-care. Focusing on my health (preventative and treatment) is not a component or strand of leadership. The pains caused by enemies and loved ones alike makes self-care fundamental to leadership. I have many sources of self-care, from subterranean solitude to active solidarity across communities. I know I'm beyond fortunate to be able to recreate, play, and joyously detach from my worries...which compels me to fight monsters and mobs. Nurturing myself continues to be a battle as I wound and heal easily, it seems. As I evolve, my aspiration is to remain highly sensitive /empathetic with fortified armor bestowed upon me by my cultural and philosophical ancestors.