I will never forget. Looking me square in the eyes, visionary artist and choreographer Liz Lerman said to me,
"Resist the urge to give counsel, because multiple truths exist. Questions are the product — investigative inquiry."
Her simple yet powerful words moved me. Liz is right. Questions do open the mind to think bigger and differently.
As a Bush Fellow, you must be grounded in why you show up to lead, and get comfortable interrogating your values, identity, culture and experiences, all of which profoundly and perpetually shape your vision. Bush Fellows ask questions to spark curiosity, which in turn sparks ideas, which then spark innovation. Without deep introspection, they risk relying on old, broken patterns to solve problems, risk working within broken systems instead of working to change them, and potentially miss the opportunity to maximize their leadership capacity.
In my role leading the Bush Fellowship applicant experience, I am often asked: What is a strong track record? When it comes to track record, many applicants talk about their record of success in terms of the positions, titles or awards they have earned. Yet, a strong track record is not just a list of degrees and accolades.
Rather, we are looking for aspiring Bush Fellows who continuously push themselves to broaden their own perspectives and increase their effectiveness both inside and outside of their paid work. We are looking for applicants who demonstrate commitment to building the skills to bridge cultural differences and work inclusively with people of different backgrounds. And, we are looking for Bush Fellows who are thinking big about how their leadership could influence change in others, with the potential for ripple effects and impact across their communities and the whole region. This can be challenging work, so we also ask applicants to illustrate their resilience and ability to learn in the face of adversity.
As you think about applying, ask yourself:
- How do your culture and experiences impact your vision and the way you do your work?
- What does leading inclusively mean to you?
- How could your personal leadership growth have an impact on your community, your state or the whole region?
- And how do you take care of yourself to make sure that you can persevere through setbacks and challenges?
If these questions ignite your curiosity, and you are interested in growing as a leader to more creatively solve problems in our region, I hope you will consider applying for the Bush Fellowship!