It seems like is was forever ago that I boarded a plane to go to Hong Kong. Fortunately, I knew I was meeting friends in this foreign country to start a new journey. One we had agreed to do together. But we were going to be meeting new people, meeting new professors and new advisors. This was the start of a new adventure to become a doctor of leadership and global perspectives. Who knew what in the world that meant? I remember getting off the plane in Hong Kong and seeing things in English and was really surprised at how easy it was to navigate to the city center and take in the sights and sounds of this new place for me in the world.
Meeting all of the people who I had met on the phone was really pleasant. I had spent plenty of time on the phone with Cliff and through Skype with Glenn. But there is just something energizing about meeting new people in person. Meeting up with Jason and Loren and the rest of the facility only confirmed that I had made a good decision to change doctoral programs. This was going to fit who I am and who I want to be. Spending the hours together learning Hong Kong and their dilemma was really refreshing and eye opening. Encountering the rest of our cohort and starting to develop a relationship with them in a Starbucks and walking along the peer was exciting. Navigating some of the staff that thought we were undergrad students was really surprising but hey some things you just have to roll with. This was probably the most surprising thing in our interaction.
The highlight for me of the trip to Hong Kong was to get the privilege of going to dinner with Chuck Conniry and his lovely wife. The knowledge of leadership that I learned in that amazing couple of hours together was priceless. (The food was as amazing as the view) Learning people’s stories is one of the things that I have learned over this past year and a half. Learning about the back story and the development of a person or an idea is so crucial. His journey to leading this innovative educational experience helped me to know this was the journey for me.
How have I been changed? I believe the greatest change that has happened for me is to think deeper and to bring so many more questions to anything that I am reading. I have changed the books that I am reading and the amount of information that I am absorbing. It has sharpened my ability to think critically and globally. (Ironically going to London for a summer during my junior year was the start of viewing the world differently.) What Dr. Clark has challenged me to do that again. What he has challenged me to read and to write about has started to transform how I communicate and how I think. I find it in the smallest things. Visual Ethnography for example, I had no idea what in the world this crazy book was going to be about but now I feel so comfortable with that idea that I embrace it more and more in what I do. Social media is always expanding in what I do and I see Pink as a guide for how to benefit the most from it.
The weekly conversations have been really engaging and have helped me to see things from other people’s perspective. Sometimes I am not challenged in what I think in the role that I am in or the position that I am in. This environment has been good to make me sharper and to think a bit more before I write. After hearing all of these elements introduced by Cliff on the phone I now see that not everyone could manage all of these different platforms that this education journey is hosted on. Keeping all of it organized and straight takes work and even sometimes help from others. All of this is really healthy because it encourages communication and it encourages involving others in your work and journey.
As I have read and researched my problem and idea for my dissertation, I feel like I have taken huge strides in understanding the problem. I have not arrived at any solid answers yet but I do know that I see and perceive the issue clearly now and I am starting to understand the problem Some of the problem is the environment and I can even contribute to the problem because of familiarity and because of longevity. It takes a fresh set of eyes to see certain things and I believe this year’s journey has been exactly that for me. Opening my eyes to see things differently than I ever have. This leads to thinking differently than I ever have and that makes the landscape of life really exciting and engaging.
How has it shaped my ministry? I believe my youth ministry is healthier because of the changes in my thinking. I have learned to clearly communicate, not just counting on people to see things. I must take the time to develop the language to say what I want them to do.
Language is the greatest thing that I have taken away this year. It is a vital part of leadership. If you can’t find the right words to describe what you are wanting to say, it might be time to create your own language. So many people have done that to be effective in their field. It has made me incredibly aware of what I say and how I say it. In one our our reading assignments I found Dee Hock. One little quote by him in a paper by someone else has taken me on a leadership journey that is incredible. He will shape how I communicate from here on.