Final Bush Fellow Retreat for My Fellowship

This week on Monday and Tuesday I attended my final Bush Retreat for my Fellowship (my Fellowship continues through August 2013).  Each of as were asked to make a final presentation regarding our “work”.  I’d like to share that with you:

I cannot believe how quickly these two years have flown by.  The final day of our final seminar can you believe?   It seems like not that long ago we met here in this very room for first time.  Remember the angst, the tenseness; the “what have I gotten myself into now” feelings you felt walking up the sidewalk and then down the hallway following the arrow that said Bush Fellowship Seminar?  Well you know what,  I DON’T remember that!  I’m pretty sure it was that very apprehension, might I even call it stress, mixed with my dormant chickenpox virus that had me tied up at home with the “shingles”!  (Get the vaccine by the way when you can.  The shingles were more painful than my double mastectomy by far.)  I know I’ve come a long way since that day and I see much evidence that shows that we all have!

Leadership lesson:

My greatest risk factors for derailment of my leadership skills are my tendency toward being a false advocate and an eccentric.  (For those of you reading this let me define for you what is meant by these terms according to the CDR Assessment Group:  False Advocate behaviors are failure to openly communicate but rather reacting to perceived mistreatment in quiet secret ways, tending not to be candid and direct, staying silent in the present and then sending messages of disagreements later.   Eccentric behaviors include being innovative, expressing a high volume of ideas, bringing character and style to the workplace, intellectual daydreaming that may lead to breakdowns in communication, attempts at diplomacy suffer due to misreading audience’s appreciation for ideas.) Throughout my fellowship, I have been working with these tendencies in an effort to neutralize their influence on my leadership abilities.

As a member of the Book Bags Book Club, I am reading Wild by Cheryl Strayed this month.  Written as a memoir, the author at twenty-two in the wake of her mother’s death thought she had lost everything.  I almost put the book down at this point thinking that at my age I really didn’t want to read another coming of age novel.  But I pushed ahead anyway in an effort not to let the book club down.  Cheryl, with no experience or training, driven only by blind will, hikes more than a thousand miles of the Pacific Crest Trail —and she does it alone.  Her story powerfully captures the terrors and pleasures of this young woman forging ahead against all odds on a journey that maddened, strengthened, and ultimately healed her.  I didn’t face Cheryl’s rattlesnakes, coyotes, inhospitable men or the rigors of weather on my Bush Fellowship journey but I did in a sense come of age in my leadership skills.

As Cheryl treks along the trail physically, her mind journeys over the derailers  she has met in her life thus far.  Walking alone for a thousand miles would certainly give you plenty of time to think – wouldn’t it?  Cheryl says, “The father’s job is to teach his children how to be warriors, to give them the confidence to get on the horse to ride into battle when it’s necessary to do so.  If you don’t get that from your father, you have to teach yourself.”  This was an aha moment for me – if you don’t get that confidence, you’ve got to teach yourself, and if you don’t teach yourself, you can never win a battle.  That’s why, into my fifties and sixties, I was still having trouble with confrontation, because I was never taught that.  My parents were good people and did many good things for our family and our community but I cannot think of a time when I saw them role model for my brothers and myself how to navigate through differences of opinion – how to do battle.  So I learned how to avoid confrontation, how to placate and satisfy no matter what the cost to me. 

With the help of these Fellowship seminars, the individuals in this cohort, my leadership coach, friends and my own desire to do the tough work that it takes to grow, I came to realize the importance of being authentic and straightforward with myself.  When I do that, the false advocacy and eccentricity are relegated to lesser influence, my leadership becomes more authentic and straightforward, and “doing the opinion battle” becomes less intense.   

What I see differently or more clearly as a result of my fellowship:

I asked a couple of close friends to share with me what growth they have seen in me as a result of this fellowship.  One replied that I have always been a leader.  That people were drawn to me and whatever cause I was championing because of my leadership and organizational skills and because they saw me as someone who made good choices, had high principles, essential core beliefs and was a joy to be around.  All that before Bush!!!!!  Now she sees me as a visionary.  Someone who takes action and makes important things happen because I’m willing to take a risk in order to help others.

My other friend commented on my much-improved level of resiliency and strength of character that is able to sense when I need help and reach out openly to ask for it.Thinking about their comments and all of my experiences through this fellowship, I do see myself differently now and more clearly.  I’ve found more confidence in the power of Diane Davies as a leader. Somewhere around January of 2012 after sharing with the cohort my lack of guts to make a change that I knew I needed to make, and while working with my coach, I came to the realization that it was and is me.  I can and do make a difference in the lives of many around me especially the breast cancer survivor community.

Difficult situation/conversation/dilemma and how you found your way through:

This dilemma that is responsible for my biggest steps forward as a leader was the very dilemma that was almost responsible for causing me to throw in the towel.  That dilemma was my decision to dissolve my connection with the nonprofit, Circle in the Field: Peer Support for Breast Cancer, which I had so recently created.  It forced me into confrontations with my strong-willed and experienced mentor and friend.   At the time of my diagnosis with breast cancer, I would have given anything to be able to find an escape route that would enable me to bypass what lay ahead.  I felt the same way once again in this instance.  I knew I had to face into the storm and cross that mountain.  I also knew that I had to do it for myself and by myself.  Brutal honesty, harsh criticism, tears of anguish and despair pushed me forward.  At the end of the long night comes the peacefulness of the new day.  With lessons learned regarding unclear expectations and unclear agendas, I’ve clarified my mission, cut the ties that needed to be cut before I lost all of my self-confidence and moved ahead towards accomplishing movement forward on my mission.  My energy is positive and my work satisfying and meaningful and I am making a difference for those newly diagnosed with breast cancer.

Summary of Fellowship work:

As you know, my work deals with lightening the load of the newly diagnosed breast cancer patient through the power of peer support offering emotional encouragement and providing hope.

Successful production of the 2nd DVD – Voices of Hope: Family and Friends

Creation of the new website for Voices of Hope at www.voicesofhopebc.com  including new logo, packaging the 2 DVDs together and a new marketing strategy         

Creation of a Support Group Finder for the website

Creation of the system for fulfillment of orders

Continuing search financial support to keep it all going

              Wbits/ Sean Hernan

              Minnesota Lynx connection ?

It will happen and much more.  Thanks to all you and the Bush Foundation.

Final Bush Fellow Retreat for My Fellowship

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