Learning to Lead and Leading to Learn
By Amy Greene, Board Chair | August 6, 2018

It’s fun to be able to write this next column from the vantage point of being on vacation in the Southern Appalachians, from whence I and all my ancestors on both sides originate, going back (in some cases) at least 300 years. There’s a gentle but persistent rain this week, which is a welcome refreshment to my somewhat parched spirit. This is one of the places on earth where my soul feels the most at-ease and reflective. I am reminded once again that I cannot offer anything to others when I am depleted myself. We all know this. But I frankly think we all struggle with getting enough rest and down time while also making good on all our very worthy commitments. There are people who seem always in balance, but they are few and far between. I don’t know many of them. Maybe they are steering clear of me on purpose!

So as I rest and reflect (and honor my commitment to write to the membership each month), I want to issue a call to all members to discern your place in leadership in ACPE. I don’t mean necessarily being a chair of a committee or commission, though that may prove to be in your future. What I mean is simply finding where you can both contribute to the organization and also learn and grow – and it won’t hurt your CV either! No matter your age, or tenure in the organization, or length of time in the training process – you have plenty to offer already and your perspective is needed. 

There has never been a better time to get involved, because we have the means, the momentum and the membership to do some really great work in the coming years. I firmly believe that educating people of all faiths and no particular “faith” in the work of respectful inter-professionalism is going to be a growing need – not only because the spiritual-but-not-religious are growing in numbers, but because more and more people want to bring their whole selves, their spiritual selves, to work. And we’re well trained to teach this kind respectful dialogue about things that matter most and give life meaning and purpose. The need, and even demand, for deep spiritual care is only going to grow. That means the potential work of ACPE is only going to get more complex and exciting. I’m absolutely convinced of this.

If you were with us in May in Atlanta, you saw how many people were standing once I got through reciting all the committees, commissions, task forces, etc. that have been very active in the past 4-5 years revamping and revisioning for the future. I issued a challenge at the time that if you weren’t standing, you should be prepared to be standing next year in Arizona. The reason you should sign-up is not simply that we have a lot to do, but that you will learn so much and it will enrich your life and your career. It will strengthen your sense of support and connection when the winds of change blow through your particular and current place of employment. It’s an investment in your own future, as well as our collective one. 

Among the groups I’ve served with in ACPE are: Conference Planning Committee, Professional Ethics Commission, Certification Commission, Theory Papers-of-the-Year Editorial Committee, Professional Development Reform Task Force, Redesign Implementation Team and, now, Board of Directors. In every role, I have learned an enormous amount – about the organization’s history, about how it functions, about how much work goes into making all our processes continue, and about how much love and passion has gone into making us who we are over the decades. I’ve made lasting friendships and valued collegial relationships with people from working “in the trenches” together to forward the organization.

I don’t remember where I first heard the idea that if you find yourself thinking, “Somebody ought to…” then that “somebody” should probably be you. I’ve tried to practice that philosophy over the years, which is mostly why I ran for Board Chair at a time when I actually could not see how on this green earth I would be able to find the time or energy – let alone the wits – to do a decent job. But I did find myself thinking, “Somebody ought to…”

That’s the biggest reason I think you should volunteer or say yes to a nomination or ask someone to nominate you if they haven’t already. You will learn about the organization, but more importantly perhaps you will learn about yourself, and you will gain leadership skills you might not otherwise gain. You will have to test out your own theories of leadership in the volunteer professional sector, and you will have to hold your ideas up to peer scrutiny. You will also experience the deep satisfaction of seeing things come to life that are much bigger than your own limited view could have dreamed up alone. 

Leadership pushes you to go places you probably wouldn’t go otherwise. It’s like any other challenge you might take on – there will be things you aren’t prepared for; otherwise, it’s not much of a challenge. How we perform when everything goes as planned is one thing, but how we react when things fall apart is where leadership is born. I have spent a lifetime looking for the next big challenge. And sometimes I think I’ve gotten myself so far out over my skis that I may crash. Then I see the view, and the shift in focus means I somehow stay upright. So I challenge you to step up, strap on your skis, and see where they take you.

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