Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Leaders Need Love, Too

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'If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.'
-John Quincy Adams  

I've been in trans activism and holding a leadership role in some capacity in it for 24 years now.   While there are times I enjoy it, there are other times it can be a pain in the rear end in terms of executing the responsibilities that come with that leadership mantle.

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While it is fun and exciting at times to be networking at various conferences, dinners, board meetings, participating in panel discussions and lobby days, and meeting, spending quality time with and getting to know some of the amazing activists, allies and leaders inside and outside our community, some of the things that aren't fun are the travel.

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Getting up before the sun rises to catch flights to and from home especially for those of us who don't live on the coasts involves a multi hour plane ride with multiple connecting flights at times. While that's great for my frequent flyer miles, your body is saying 'what the heck are you doing to me?'  

It's also interesting when you are traveling from Houston in the winter or early spring to a cold weather locale and experience a 50 degree temperature drop in mere hours and you're trying not to catch a cold because of that wild temperature swing.

Sometimes getting jacked up by TSA security isn't fun, and in some cases neither is doing that travel solo.  There are moments during those plane rides that you have time to do some hard solid thinking about whatever issues that are cropping up in your life at that time.

And if I hear the phrase 'holding someone accountable' one more time I'm gonna scream.

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There's also the keyboard activists that you rarely see doing any action, at a lobby day, or working intersectionality with other groups but have the nerve to criticize you and claim 'you don't represent them' or are spitting the word 'elitist' at you for whatever reason.

Image may contain: 6 people, people smiling, people standing and indoorI know that's part of the territory, but it's still an irritant, and we need love, too.

Being a leader ain't easy. but when you help pass good legislation and kill bad bills, make someone's day simply by talking to them, motivate people to stand up for their human rights because they are following your example, and have your classmates, community members  and former coworkers tell you they are proud of you for what you do, the rewards so outweigh whatever criticism I receive from nattering nabobs of internet negativism.

It's also where the self care aspect comes in.  Having a group of people around me that you know beyond a shadow of a doubt that love you, tell you the unvarnished truth and have your back is vital. They'll give you that hug when you need it and a motivational kick in the azz when it's required

It's also nice to talk to people who do the work and discuss stuff beyond what's happening in the movement and just catching up with their lives. There are also those phone calls in which we get to vent with each other about the crap we're seeing.

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Those peeps who love and care about you will not allow you to get 'big head syndrome' either and keep you focused on why you do the work in the first place.  .

In a world that is hostile to trans people and especially trans people of color, it's vital to have people in your life who unconditionally love you.

They help make you not only a better leader, but a better human being as well.

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