I always was quite good at saying what others wanted to hear. When writing my application for Laidlaw Scholarship last October (because I am obnoxious and ready two months before the deadline) I prepared a mental list of all the topics to mention. Examples of me being a leader – check. Developing my teamwork skills – check. Acknowledging my talents, but staying humble – check (work in progress). Experience – check. Self-leadership – check. Feeling quite content with myself I did not give my development process much thought until… well, until now.
The “unprecedented times” and “new circumstances” which scare us from all the mails we receive are a fact. The global crisis brought a lot of changes to our plans, hopes and a general vision of the future. A few months ago I was waiting for a summer in St Andrews, Monday lunches and joint learning sessions in the library with other Laidlaw Scholars. Instead, on the first day of the programme I was alone in my bedroom with only one thought buzzing in my mind: “If life gave me so many lemons I am going to make lemonade, lemon tart, lemon crumb muffins and lemon cheesecake”. And I did, because I like baking. And then, I opened my leadership statement, written more than half a year ago, looking for a guide on how to make the most of the time I was given.
This is how my work on self-leadership started. Over past few weeks in the effort to stay in touch with the people I value, I spent hours discussing experiences and exchanging insights with my friends and colleagues. I was trying to give much more attention to the way I work and approach new tasks and then articulate what I have observed.
Here are the three discoveries that I made:
- Self-leadership requires self-compassion
Being kind and understanding for others is in my nature, however for a long time I did not realize I was never treating myself quite the same way. Taking care of good atmosphere is as important in group tasks as it is in working alone. I still learn how to treat myself with kindness.
- Seeing progress needs perspective
My drive for developing myself is constantly fighting with my disappointment when I don’t see the results after a day. Real, structural changes need time and it is more appropriate to evaluate progress in months or even years. I try to appreciate the process and I hope it will give me more inspiration to continue developing as a leader and as a person.
- The balance is not easy
Although the scholarship motivates me to look for the areas for improvement, I try to give equal attention to my strengths. Appreciating how much I have already grown gives me confidence in my abilities and pushes me forward.
I am sure coming weeks will surprise me with more insights and I am glad I still have so much time ahead in my Laidlaw journey. I would like to thank the whole Laidlaw Team for supporting the scholars all over the world and making this summer a valuable experience.