This Summer I got the opportunity to spend 6 1/2 weeks in Ghana. While this was not my first time in Ghana, it was the longest I had ever been out of the country.
I spent my first 2 weeks helping to coordinate an orientation for a group of Mount Holyoke College students and then doing site visits in various parts of the country. For the month of July I was on my own and able to move about as I would like.
During the first week of July I traveled down to Johannesburg, South Africa for the first time. This was significant for me because I had been wanting to go for a long time but somehow talked myself out of it a number of times. Finally getting there, visiting Soweto and the apartheid museum was AMAZING.
Going after these experiences made me stand a little taller. Looking back it's still hard to believe I was able to do it all in one summer. By the time my trip was nearing the end, I was ready to come home, and see just how unstoppable I could continue to be.
But at first, it was hard.
I came home and snapped into execution mode. I had to prepare myself for being back home. The first few days were difficult but doable. I had a move that needed to be executed upon arrival and I needed to get ready to head back to my job at the college.
Despite my optimism. I lost a little steam. I was starting to feel a little drained and somewhat overwhelmed. After a few days I also felt emotionally drained. (Yes I know this was part of resettling and reentry.) But I felt I was dragging myself along.
But I started to remember my lessons from Ghana.
My time in Ghana had allowed me to Trust my Own Process.
It had been awhile since I had the freedom to decide, from week to week, how I would spend my days outside of work. I stopped looking at my decisions as rights ones and wrong ones, only as ending up exactly where I needed to be; even if I wasn't certain of the reason at the time. I needed to have faith in the person I was when I made the decision....which essentially was still me.
I also had to remember to Own my Power. My experience was one I had manifested. Traveling for that long (6 weeks in Ghana, with a trip to South Africa) had seemed impossible at one point. Nine years ago I would have never event dreamed it was possible, yet I was literally living that reality. My vision, my intentions, and my sacrifices that had led me to that point and brought my experience into being. I was capable of that, which means I was also capable of so much more.
Lastly I remembered how much I valued the Power of Human Connection (even as an introvert). I spent my last 2 weeks in Ghana living in a hostel. (One I had frequented on and off during my stay.) And spent lots of time getting to know folks around town.
In Johannesburg I hung out at a hostel that also served as a bar and meeting spot for both foreigners and locals. I was constantly meeting people from all over world and friendships were sooooo easy. I'm talking 5yr-olds-meeting-in-a-sandbox easy. All pretenses dropped. Like we forgot we were supposed to be playing it cool, and instead of it being awkward, it was easy. Knowing that our interactions would be short lived, we often enthusiastically engaged in each other's presence, gleaning all we could learn about the other person. These friendships kept me buoyant and present.
Coming back home, I find I've been just a little more present in my interactions and being more intentional about the time I spend with others.
This week I want to you to step boldly in your own journey. Trust the process and trust yourself. It doesn't matter how things have gone before or that you fear you'll make a mistake, move forward anyway. You grow or you will learn. But you will be exactly where you should.
Remember you have the power to manifest your goals. It is all within you. Believing in your goals alone does not make it happen, however, it's damn near impossible to achieve them, without first believing it's possible. Soooo better to get to the believing part; and be sure to do so wholeheartedly.
Lastly, let your community support you. If you don't have a community, find one or let yourself be that part of a community for someone else. These experiences have a way of filling us up more than we realize (yes, even for us introverts.)
Have you taken a trip that's impacted your leadership journey? I'd love to hear about it!
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