M7: Final assignment

A. Leading for the future

When asked to define leadership at the beginning of the year, I proposed we do away with the idea altogether, encouraging networks of interdependent and supportive collaborators instead.

Now that the year has come to a close, I’m not sure if I stand by my definition. On the one hand, I think that’s still my goal – to encourage those I work with to each take the lead in their areas. On the other hand, I have come to accept that this kind of encouragement is itself a form of leadership. It doesn’t happen automatically; it requires intent and skill.

I’m more prepared now to wholeheartedly accept the definition by Stephen Covey that I posted at the beginning of the year: to communicate to people their worth and potential so clearly that they are inspired to see it in themselves.

Based on what I’ve learned this year about listening to myself and my body, I would go a little further. Continue reading

Magic Wardrobes and Abundance Thinking

christmas bounty

This is a story about a magic wardrobe – but I’m getting ahead of myself here.

So let me start by asking you a question. How many of you believed in Santa Claus when you were little? I certainly did. I believed in Santa long after I’d given up on fairies, and witches, and thinking that if I concentrated hard enough, I’d be able to fly. Year after year, when I opened my eyes on Christmas morning, I would find myself surrounded by toys. Model trains and Lego sets, Barbie dolls, books, puzzles, one of those early Super Soakers – you name that 90s toy, I got it for Christmas.

Let me be clear, though. It wasn’t because I got a lot of toys that I believed. Continue reading

Why pick me?

Asha made an incredibly astute observation on Friday. When I told her about how I felt I didn’t deserve certain recent accolades, she pointed out that many award and grant schemes are a recognition of a trajectory rather than a destination. She pointed out how much more value there is for them to say they were a formative part of the journey, and that they helped set the wheels in motion. I felt she was absolutely right, but I had expended so much energy deconstructing myself that I failed to think about the question of what benefit these schemes are to them.

At the same time, this observation leads me to a place of, if not quite anxiety, at least concern. Continue reading

Forbes, social media, and the amplification of good

I didn’t really follow the annual Forbes 30 Under 30 so much as accept that my Facebook feed would blow up each January with the news that someone I went to undergrad with had just made the list. I noticed a pattern: they were all hard workers who had also mastered the art of working smartly and in alignment with the right people.

When I started college, I thought Princeton was simply a good way to get a degree sans debt (it was one of the few schools offering need-blind financial aid to international students). It was only once I left that I began to value the connections I’d made entirely by accident, who served as mentors, supporters, and harbingers of further opportunities. Meanwhile, I admired the people on the Forbes list, while regretfully admitting that I would probably never know how to make my work visible in a way that felt right. Continue reading

what a day for a daydream

I love to walk, and my walk between school and home is one that is especially sacred to me. Because when I walk, I daydream. The world becomes fuzzy at the edges as I think about what I’d like to cook for dinner, puzzle through the knots in my thesis, rehearse impossibly beautiful futures, stop short at a favourite tree to think about what a delightful world I live in. And that is what makes me hesitate to sign up for that (admittedly laudable) MIT women’s self-defense class — to do so is, to me, to concede that I must cease dreaming. Continue reading