When the Bush Foundation told you to be bold and ambitious, they really meant it. You have to really commit to it and have a developmental plan with measurable outcomes and results. Winning the fellowship is a validation from the past and it is a time for celebration and assimilation. But most likely you have not changed the world yet. If anything, you have mobilized your energy for action. You have potential, you have been told, and this is an opportunity. So use the momentum wisely but concentrate in the here and now.
First of all, you have to learn how to focus. You will find that you have a lot of "good" ideas. We have a hundred thoughts of which 90 percent don't go anywhere nor serve any purpose except building anxiety. Talking to you is like continuing a conversation that you went in cycles with somebody else, many times before. You are constantly putting order to things and reacting emotionally to what you shouldn't and repeating yourself. You get data input and try to make meaning and order. It is like forever trying to write the Bush Fellowship application on what is it that you want to do with the money. Or trying to get the elusive research question for your dissertation. Part of the reason is because you don't finish thoughts.
Second, be self-aware. Most of the time we run away from our own awareness, like running away from ourselves. We have a lot of figures in our brain that compose the background. Pick up one figure, only one figure at a time and concentrate in its development, assimilation and closure, so you can move on to another figure next time with undivided attention. Once you have taken a new learning point, the first thing to ask is not: "what do you remember about this or that?" Rather, "How does it make you feel?" A new learning point almost always evokes an emotion. If you voice it, and are aware of it, the learning will last longer, perhaps, forever.
Third, choose educational cohorts when learning. 90 percent of small seminars showed no improvement in your life. Cohorts have a special power. If people spend enough time together learning for a period of let's say 4 weeks, beside learning from each other, they tend to build a long-lasting bond of trust. I will call it meaningful networking.
Fourth, when you are in a group, be courageous to push the group to the next level of learning. How? Don't hold back your wisdom. Share it. Don't compete with the group. Don't hide pearls. If the group succeeds, you will succeed as well. If you like to compete, then do it with yourself. Run your next 5 K in less time. But in the here and now you are part of a system. I'm a strong believer that you learn as much from the teacher as you may learn from your peers. If you teach them, they will remember you forever and teach you back if they can. But the furniture has to be arranged in such a way to make sure the interaction occurs. Yes, you can design your own learning style.
Fifth, you have to learn how to communicate better. I've noticed we use our hands to express what is happening inside our brains. When they are closed and guarded or cautious there is no hand movement, except fingers interlocked, or crossed-arms, while our cognition is speaking. Yet hand movements come alive when their emotional side opens up (a shift). The best communicators seem to use their hands in a way that correlates well with what they are saying or feeling. Maybe I should take theatre classes to understand this better, to connect with my emotions and expressions first. On the other hand, if you are a rapid thinker, you have to talk slow. Talking slow means that you have to be much faster at picking the most appropriate word from your huge pile of options, and concentrate on enunciation for clarity and emphasis. Your accent won't matter much. As learning is more important than teaching, understanding is more important than speaking.
Sixth, you have to become extrovert. Introversion may be an excuse to not meet people. Overcome shyness. I like to call myself the most extroverted introvert in the world. A friend called herself an adventurous introvert. Just get out of your inner world and get more insight (outsight) from others.
I have given you everything I have. Feel my energy. I'm ready to change the world. What about you? How are you feeling? Be a Bush Fellow. Embrace it. Cheers!