Quilt of Connection, created during Arts Showcase at the 2nd Annual Peer Voice Alumni Gathering

 

Peers know what it means to be powerless, to have others making decisions about us, our bodies, and our lives. We are all too familiar with imposed limitations – to be told our visions are “grandiose”, to set our sights lower, that the best we can do is “manage.” That’s nonsense. We all have a wellspring of personal power within us and no one can take that away. We might not know it’s there, our light may be dimmed by the dominant narrative, but it’s always there, waiting for us to acknowledge and claim it.

Peer Voice Alum, Cindy Trevino says it like this:

So many letting go of those that don’t know about recovery.

Too many clinical people said,

“She’ll never make it or, she is just too damaged to help.”

Then one peer said something that embraced the pain I had been feeling for a lifetime

And with that came change

With hope

To live a better life.

 

We had our annual Peer Voice Alumni gathering last month and there were many juicy conversations about leadership but I also got to witness leadership in action – people taking ownership, moving up, and sparkling with their own brilliant light. I was reminded that there isn’t a ‘one size fits all’ and that leadership rooted in authenticity is like a beacon, drawing others to you and your vision. But the best part, to me, is that when we step into our personal power we give others hope and permission to do the same. You don’t have to be perfect (whatever that even means) to be a leader; just find your inner light, dust it off and let it shine.

When I think about leadership these days, I think about love. Much like love, the definition of leadership is dynamic. To have one definition makes it static, rigid and difficult to relate to. Also like love, leadership can be thought of as a verb, an action. But perhaps most importantly, when we lead with love – love of people, love of an idea – we get to experience and share hope: Hope for a better life for all of us.