December 2016

December 2016

Updated by
Amelia Franck Meyer

How has your understanding of your own leadership changed through the Fellowship to date? How do you now view the role of self-care in sustaining your ability to lead?

BE BOLD

My understanding of my own leadership has changed because of the risks that the fellowship has allowed me to take.  In pushing the limits of scope, scale, and the “bigness” of my dreams and what is possible, I have seen reflected back that I was making myself smaller than I needed to be by playing by the (what I thought were) the rules and trying to be polite.  I always perceived myself as bold and daring, but in the past several months, I saw that I was really playing it more safely than was necessary—or even desirable—to achieve the outcomes I was pursuing. 

This is my quote for this learning:

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

BE VULNERABLE

It may be my age (I turn 50 in April), it may be having ½ of a doctorate degree under my belt, it may be increased experience, or maybe that my mentor passed away and I have lost my back-up/safe space…I’m not sure what it is, but I feel a great sense of urgency, of boldness, of “If not me, then who?”; “If not this, then what?”; and “If not now, then when?”  I kept thinking that there must be someone else better equipped or smarter, or more well connected than me, but that person never showed up to get things done.  So here I am, a reluctant leader in my space, but now I know that I must take meaningful, disruptive action to create the change that our children deserve.  I’ve also gained the understanding that not only can I not do it all, know it all, control it all, even if I could, it would not be preferable.  I’ve increased my vulnerability immensely and am very comfortable asking the “dumb” questions, exposing my “warts” and even failing…publically.

This is my quote for this learning:

 "You are not Atlas carrying the world on your shoulder. It is good to remember that the planet is carrying you."
-Vandana Shiva

BE A BUILDER, NOT A FIGHTER

I’ve also learned that fighting the existing reality is exhausting, and often makes little progress.  I’ve become a huge fan of building a new and better way.  In fact, the name of my new organization is Alia which means other and different, or the top of a scale.  I am tired of fighting the old, ineffective way of working with children that re-traumatizes them with an approach of blaming, shaming, disconnecting and punishing.  Instead, of “fixing the broken system” that often results in minor tweaking due to the enormous amount of resources and power used by the system to hold on to the status quo, I am becoming about building a new way that produces better outcomes.  I have learned to use gentle action, rather than might or force, to get what I need or desire.  I just gentle continue my requests, in a kind way, until I get a door to open, or until I am told “no”.  Using my tenacity in these gentle but persistent ways, rather than using it to engage in a battle for what is right, is a new way of working for me.   It feels so much better, and it works better, too.

This is my quote for this learning:

"You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete."
- R. Buckminster Fuller

SELF CARE

I often say that self-care is my biggest risk to sustainable leadership.  I feel like this is still my learning edge, and I’ve not done what I needed to in this area in the fellowship.  If anything, it’s gotten worse with the addition of school to my life.  I’ve not yet cracked this code.  I do a lot to support my own wellbeing, but it’s woefully short of what I think I could or should be doing.  I’d say that more than ever I understand the importance of self-care, but I continue to struggle with finding ways to integrate parts of it in  my life.  I do a very good job of keeping up with health appointments, acupuncture, social engagements, family time, etc., but I’m struggling more with how to fit in enough sleep and exercise.  This area is my Achilles heel.  How to full-time doctoral students, who are working full-time in a start-up organization, and raising young children do it?  Maybe doctoral students don’t work?  But you have to in the program I am in.  Maybe they have 9a-5p jobs?  Maybe they are single? Or have no children?  I’m not sure, but I’m still working to crack this code!

This is my quote for this learning:

“Self-care is not about self-indulgence, its about self-preservation.”
-Audre Lorde