Leadership, aroha (empathy/compassion/care) and visibility
I am a self-described ambivert, sometimes a sparkly unicorn, sometimes a reserved, sparkly hedgehog. Depending on what the situation requires, I can bring it. I was extremely shy as a child, self-conscious about so many things - race, height, class, clothes, whānau (family). In my teens I found a friendship group who accepted me and it made such a difference to my self-esteem. It’s a bumpy ride but I can honestly say that as a now, middle aged woman, I am the happiest I have ever been with being me. Being brown, short, middle-class (with working class roots and branches) and middle-aged is alright. I am fortunate and grateful that despite the messiness that has been part of my childhood and adulthood, I have always had love (whānau, partners and friends).
I moved into leadership roles in the early 2000s. I have worked at developing my skills, expertise and knowledge to lead. It is rewarding and hard work. Being visible along with the accountability, responsibility, aroha, advocacy that goes with the job, means that there are a lot of balls to hold in the air. Furthermore, power is double-edged sword (positive/negative). As a leader, what I do and the decisions I make, has impact on the people around me. Hence, they have feelings about what I do…
I admire people like Jacinda Ardern, being in public service, leading and motherhood! It’s huge dealing with all of the above on a much larger scale. When I have a meh day. I look to women like Ardern, Helen Clarke and others and think about how amazing their achievements are. It also puts my life in perspective.
It is important for me to have a way to process the complexity of my role and mindfully work through my own stuff and practice empathy with others. Listening, not judging, not trying to fix things or giving advice. It is tricky when people look to me for solutions. I am not claiming that I get it right all the time. But I do try hard to do my best and keep learning. Reading the stories of others is one way to do that.
Two wonderful Australian academics, Dr Narelle Lemon and Dr Sharon McDonough have edited Mindfulness in the Academy Practices and Perspectives from Scholars. It may be available in your library. It is available in ours. A collection of personal narratives from academics across the globe who use mindfulness practices in their work in the higher education. I just happen to have a chapter in the book (winking emoji). The editors were both wonderful to work with and I am so proud to have a piece in the collection. It is quite a personal story but one I hope resonates with others on a leadership journey or dealing with big changes in their lives. I am pretty honest about self-doubt, my need for affirmation and support to do the work I do. I also list different mindfulness strategies that work for me. Always the pragmatist. I’d urge you to seek the book out. I can’t wait to read the other chapters.
Mā te wā (time will tell/see you later).