When somebody first asked me if I wanted to attend a Leadership Exchange, I said I didn’t consider myself a leader - despite feeling compelled to be there. I was given gentle encouragement to follow my heart and to be open to whatever I might learn from the conversations and personal reflection that day. I finally decided to give it a shot.
The first gathering I attended I felt really out of place. I hardly understood what people were talking about. There was no conversation about leading with an iron fist! What was happening? But some part of me understood that I was in a group of people who were sharing aloud some of the words of the quiet voice I’d been carrying in my heart.
As time goes by, I find myself more and more able to share that voice, both in the Leadership Exchanges, and in my life.
Over the course of my experiences in these Exchanges, it’s become clear to me that there are multiple forms of leadership. I’ve felt encouraged to find my own strengths, my own confidence, my own voice and leadership style - which is almost nothing like my original concept of what it means to be a leader.
I’ve met so many people who are also searching and working toward other forms of leadership: something that is both unique to themselves, but also connected to the whole of humanity and the world at large.
Friends and co-workers have recognized the results of the work I’ve done. In the last year or so, I’ve had many people comment on the shift they’ve observed in the way I live in the world. I’m certain that is directly linked to the concepts I’ve learned about in these workshops. I would not have the understanding or confidence that I do, if I had not been a part of these Exchanges. It has been very grounding, liberating and humbling.
I now understand that the kind of leader I would choose to work with is not somebody who wields authority like a weapon, but one who understands and delicately holds the tool of authority, who is mindful of the impact of that tool on the people and world around them.
If I am meant to be in a leadership role in my life, I aspire to be a mindful one. I’m so grateful for the support in looking beyond my limited understanding of leadership, beyond my limited levels of self-confidence. I am especially grateful for the support in learning to trust and share that quiet voice in my heart. I suspect I’ve only just begun to understand the level of impact these Exchanges have had, and will have, in my life.
Beth Cate lives and works in Hardwick, VT. She is the Grocery Manager at Buffalo Mt. Coop. Beth shares: “one of my passions is shifting the conversations around how we do business with each other and in the world, which is why I Love Co-ops! They are powerful agents of change, and I hope to continue to be involved in helping them gain momentum. We’re gonna save the world! I’ll spend my life trying, at least. Life is an art form. I’m so grateful to be learning how to create the world alongside so many amazing people.”