Part of the reason it’s been so silent here is because this summer has been one long learning experience for me. If 2013 was the year I was reborn, the year when so many positive things and so many wonderful people flowed into my life, 2014 is the year that is testing me to see if I can really steer the ship of my life in this brand new direction. Can I get out of my own way and step fully into my power?
By far the biggest surprise has been discovering my ability to move through grief. I miss my dad, I think of him often, some days with a heavier heart than others. But it’s been awhile since I’ve had a panic attack to think of his absence in this world. That is a huge deal.
His passing set off a tremendous effort on my part to care for myself, but as with anything I throw myself into, I went overboard. To quote my husband, I got so extreme with my self care that it didn’t count as self care anymore. I’ve had to strip down my self care regimen to something not as overwhelming.
I’m trying to be kinder and gentler with myself. Catching up on sleep took priority in August, which I dubbed “staycation month.” I gave myself permission to work from home and take daily naps. I started cooking for pleasure again. I’m working up to reading purely for pleasure (which, to be honest, has been a challenge since grad school).
In a parallel effort, I’ve gotten better at drawing boundaries in my work life. I tend to overextend myself to support people and projects I care about, but this summer I learned to say Sorry, but no.
The most challenging aspect of all this has been with managing my Emerging Leaders. This summer I completely wore myself down trying to make everything as easy as possible for them, administratively. I learned the hard way (and with some prodding on my husband’s part) that I wasn’t doing anyone any favors by overextending myself in this way: I would have to learn to let go in order for them to be able to step up and learn to lead.
Maurice called the last meeting (he learned just how difficult it was to herd cats!) and Tony is calling this week’s phone call. We drafted a Code of Ethics, divided up responsibilities, and set up a buddy system so that all the planning and coordination does not always fall on me.
It’s a continuous challenge for me not to want to get on the horn and follow up with everyone, so I remind myself that this is an exercise in patience, trust, and ultimately, of respect for both myself and my young people.
On the Game Plan front, by contrast, I am learning how to lead product development meetings. My husband is my acting CTO and he is seasoned in the tech, startup, and product development front. My tendency is to trust him implicitly, so it was very comforting to have him at the helm during our very first product development meetings. But he has also appointed himself my executive coach, and as such he is in the business of making sure I know how to lead my own initiatives.
So there is the update. Frankly, it amazes me to survey this new life I’ve created for myself. Prior to this year I never saw myself as a leader, and it would bemuse me when others regarded me as one. In my head I’ve always been a good little rule follower forever in search of a mentor. I am here to say that if you hear the call to lead, heed it. Heed it no matter how scary it may seem. It won’t be easy, you will have to learn so much. But you will experience nothing short of miracles and you will know such unimaginable joy. I promise.
Written By Ysette Guevara, Ph.D.
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