Over this past year several things stand out to me about my leadership development. Its grueling, painful, joyful, and exciting all at the same time. It most surprises me that when I put intentionality to how I wanted to shape my leadership, the alignment of resources, connections and skill building came very quickly. For example, last June as I was beginning to think deeper about how I wanted to start my fellowship, and I focused on wanting to build my executive presence, communication and influence skills in order to begin planning my next career move. I thought much of that work would have taken the whole fellowship however I made great strides in the first 6 months and in that time I was invited to several speaking engagements, went to Harvard for a leadership training, and had other tremendous opportunities that led me to a career change all in the first year! I couldn't have scripted this journey any better and quite honestly I must admit it doesn't feel real. As I was going through the training, speaking engagements, and coaching I also focused a lot on my personal well being. I wanted to know what makes me tick, the foods that gave me energy, the practices I needed to instill in my everyday routine and found ways to destress and detox my body. All of this gave me greater efficiency in my strategic thought and gave way to some amazing breakthroughs in my previous organization which paved a path for this move.
Another thing that stands out about this journey is the amount responsibility I feel to make a difference in my community. I had a brief period of doubt and defeat early in the fellowship about how the world around me was beginning to cave in on me. Being as the say "woke" to what is happening in the world around me and all of the development process I was going through made me feel like that no matter how much I prepared myself and built the skills I thought I needed I felt it wouldn't be enough. No matter how many speaking engagements I have or how many strategies I build there would still be a group of people that sees the world different than I do and will put barriers up that cause more harm than good such as immigration policies, or a young black male will get shot by a police officer that will cause controversy and pain to my community and that frustrated me the most. But as I started to reflect on that frustration and what it was doing to my mentality I had to realize that the point of me developing my leadership isn't to be the leaders of all Black people of all people for that matter but to build myself up to lead who I can make a difference with, and to be satisfied with progress and not absolute.
The challenge in front of me now is to continue the journey and the energy for developing my leadership and learning more about myself. Its been amazing and refreshing to look at myself with new eyes. It brings another level of drive from within that will propel me to do greater things for my community. Though I know its rough here in the world right now and it feels like all the progress we've made is being destroyed however there must be a counter punch to bring greater mutual understanding and collectivity with all that divides us.