Tomi Kay Phillips

Tomi Phillips
Learning Log

Tomi Kay Phillips

Report date
November 2018
Fellowship term
24 months
Learning log 3

My heart will be forever grateful to the Bush Foundation and for the Bush Fellowship. Because of my Bush Fellowship, I have been afforded the time to focus on my studies. I have had time for deep reflection. I have been able to take time to learn more about myself. I have always had a quiet, calm demeanor and didn't always like that about myself. I seemed to gravitate towards outgoing personalities because that is what I thought I needed to be. I have learned to embrace my calm demeanor. I know when to stay quiet and when to speak up. When I do speak up people take notice. When it seems I am quiet, I really am not quiet. I am thinking, thinking before I speak out. When it comes to leadership, these are great attributes to possess.

Appreciating the gifts that have been given to me has fostered peace to grow within myself. Being able to know myself better will allow my leadership abilities to continue to evolve. Acceptance and learning new things about myself have been a tremendous blessing. I know my Creator has prepared me and guided my path throughout this journey as a Fellow. Years ago, I was told by a very special person that I would be a teacher. That by first being a teacher I would become a leader. By acceptance and understanding, I have the confidence to follow through on this vision.

The role of self-care is significant in sustaining the ability to lead. Self-care has always been a meaningful part of my life. Self-care is crucial for self-growth. Self-care means more to me now than ever before. Taking care of oneself is not selfishness. What I have embraced about my own self-care is that it is much more than being physically fit and spiritually strong. Those two things are essential, but there are more aspects to self-care. Taking care of emotional and mental self is just as necessary and is needed to be a well-balanced person. Being mentally and emotionally stable adds to the tenacity of a leader. Before the Fellowship I was heading towards burn out in my profession. I did not realize it at the time. I loved my work and cared deeply for those under my leadership and in my care. The politics and the insincerity of others were perceived larger than they actually were. I found myself taking things personally that were not meant for me. I was allowing the negative to overtake the positive aspects of being a Leader. I was neglecting the care of my emotional and mental self. Upon reflection, I realized two valuable lessons from that experience about being a leader. The first is to be sincere and honest to the people you are leading. The second is that the spiritual, mental, emotional, and physical aspects of my being are equally important.

Through self-care and self-reflection, I continue to embrace the teaching that you have to be able to take care of yourself before you can take care of anyone else. A powerful insight I have gained is that self-care helps to refocus. Being afforded opportunities and time for self-reflection has enabled cultivation of my own self-growth. I am happy to say that I am refocused, grounded, and ready to go back into the world as a leader. In the future when work and life start to weigh heavy, I will take the time for self-care and refocus.

Fluid communication skills are an essential factor in being a leader. Being able to listen attentively is just as important as being a good speaker. A great leader understands the people they work with and sees greatness in them even when they don’t see it themselves. The Doctorate of Education degree that I am pursuing has provided a means to enhance and develop new ideas on leadership. The curriculum is grounded in values of leadership, community, and respect for others. I have gained knowledge from a world-class faculty that are leaders in their respective fields. I will carry what I have learned in this program on to the next level of leadership.

In my personal life, I have had some life changing events happen in the past six months. My daughter moved out of state to go to school. My son just recently told me he wants to join the military. I know many people have gone through familiar things, but these are new to our family. Through learning, growing, and acceptance I am in a better place mentally, emotionally, spiritually and physically to handle significant life transitions. My children have grown wings, and I am encouraging them to fly high. My prayer is they always know my love for them, and they remember the strong people they come from throughout their walk in life. Change is a part of life.

The Bush Fellowship has positively changed my life. I have this quote hanging in my office as a daily reminder, “Change will not come if we wait for some other person, or if we wait for some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change we seek”. Barack Obama