Leadership Education

Wait, You Can Learn Leadership?? LDR200L

In order to receive a leadership minor at CMU, students must take a class called LDR200: Introduction to Leadership. As a Leadership Advancement Scholar, you get to take it with your cohort and the curriculum is a little bit different from that of a normal LDR200 class.

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LDR200L focuses on leadership style and theory. In this course, you learn a lot about who you are as a person and a leader, and how that fits into certain leadership theories. Going into LDR200 I did not know what we would be doing because how much is there really to learn about leadership? I thought that leadership was something that everyone has and it just gets stronger and more defined as you take on more and more experience. While I still believe this to be true, I’ve learned that it is just as important to know how you work and how that may affect others around you. Knowing what kind of leader I am and how followers work with me best is just as important as having experience working with those followers.

My favorite part of this course was the day that we watched the TedTalk: Start With Why. I loved this class session because I think it reached more than just my leadership skills, but because it has had an affect on a lot of decisions I have made since this workshop. Start With Why discusses your why statement and the reason for what you do. It talks about your drive and why you do what you do. Everyone’s why statement is a little different but ultimately says why they do what they do. What do you want as a leader and a person and how does that play into the career you have and life you live. My why stateldr22ment is to “Inspire others to find the beauty in everything and seek the things that make them happiest”. Ever since going through this workshop and digging deeper into the meaning of why I do what I do, I find myself looking for this in the decisions I make and what I preach to other people. When I make an important decision (like change my major ha ha.. ha……) I ask myself why I want to make the decision I do. Does it follow my why statement? Am I going to get the outcome that I want and will I have the positive effect on others that I desire. I also find myself teaching others about my why statement and truly putting it into action in my daily life.

 

Another LDR200L requirement was to go on a service trip to Detroit called LAS in the D. During this service trip, I could not stop thinking about my why statement. I had this moment at the beginning of the trip while at Jalen Rose Leadership Academy where I realized I was literally preaching my why statement to these high school students. Let me clarify in saying that I wasn’t being annoying and telling them all about me, I just found myself trying to make the students see the positive side of things and find joy in what they are doing. During debrief I was talking about how they were so positive and that is so important in being a leader. A leader needs to be encouraging and positive and happy and make their followers WANT to follow them. I reminded them that had they just been negative and just hated the activities that were really difficult from the beginning, there’s no way they would have done as well as they did and had fun with it.

During this moment I just found all of these things that we had been talking about and learning coming together. I really saw myself be the leader I want to be which was the most motivating, rewarding, and damn-near coolest thing I’ve ever experienced. LDR200 for me was really and truly the opening of leadership for me. I have always known I am a leader and what the general definition of leadership is, but I never actually saw the smaller more detailed picture of leadership. I never knew that all leaders are different. I never knew that there are different ways to lead and none of them are really better than the others, it’s just what works for you. I really never knew that there were different theories to leadership and how they can affect the ways that you learn, teach, and practice leadership. LDR200L was truly just an eye-opening experience and changed me as a leader.

From this, I just hope to be more aware of my own leadership. I would say I’d like to share this with other people and followers, but I don’t think I am at that point yet. The best way to sum up this class is that I now know enough about leadership to know I pretty much know nothing. I know I am a leader and I am a pretty good one at that, but there is so so much more to this that I don’t know and I want to become more educated and aware of my own leadership. I want to self-reflect after any kind of leadership role and see what kind of leadership style I practiced, if my why statement was a main drive for this, and how well my followers reacted to my leadership.

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Leadership Education

HST110: Leaders in American History

As a Leadership Advancement Scholar, it is apart of my protocol to take classes made specifically for leadership students which focus on the adding leadership content into a university class. As my freshman year is beginning to come to a close, I am finishing up a few of these leadership courses. One of the courses that we were required to take second semester as a freshman year is HST110WIL; American Experience.

This class focuses on history in America and specifically the different leaders that made a difference in America. This was a really cool experience because you really got to see the different ways that people were leaders. When you think of leaders in America, I think most peoples mind would jump to presidents; Abraham Lincoln, George Washington, Teddy Roosevelt, and many more. What this class really made so much more obvious to me is that there are so many more leaders in America than just presidents. I always knew this but this class made it so obvious; you do not have to be the president of something to be a leader within that group. This was my main take away from this class.

Don’t get me wrong, the president is important; they are the president for a reason. HST110 just helped me apply the idea that everyone is a leader, and that you can be a leader under the power of someone who is in higher position than you as well. I have always known this but being able to see real life examples of people who aren’t labeled ‘The President of The United States of America’ that make just as big, if not bigger, impacts on this country.

Sojourner TruthAs stated before, this was a writing intensive class (fun, I know). Our major papers were based on leaders in American History. We were asked to read a book about  a famous American Leader and write a paper that tells about what they did, why it was important, and what kinds of results there were from your leaders actions. The two people that I chose to write about were Sojourner Truth and Ruby Bridges. I found this to be beneficial because again you could see more specifically that leaders don’t all have the title, they don’t always look like the stereotypical leader, and they don’t always have it easy. Sojourner Truth and Ruby Bridges were both leaders in America at a time when many American’s didn’t even view them as humans. These reports emphasized a few things for me:

  1. It takes one drop of water to start a flood
  2. Not everyone will always agree with you
  3. Things may not go always go your way; that doesn’t mean you should stop
  4. Once you meet reach your goals, make bigger ones

Outside of all of the amazing knowledge of American History that I absolutely love learning about *sarcasm*, these four things are the major ideas that I have taken away. I hope that as a leader, when I am stuck in a situation that I don’t feel like a leader, where I don’t have anyone following me, things aren’t going more way, or I just feel like I’ve ‘done enough’ I hope that I think back to these four things that I have learned throughout this class. I also hope to share these ideas and leaders that I have studied with others so that they may take away their own perspective and inspiration from leaders in America.

The Ruby Bridges Story – Canon 7D from Andy Gallacher on Vimeo.

Leadership Development, Leadership Education

Leaders Connecting With Leaders

I think most people demonstrate leadership daily whether we realize it or not. Everyone takes lead at some point in society. Whether it is a mother raising her children or a father going to work to support his family, these are acts of leadership. The difference between people who realize they are leaders and people who do not see themselves as leaders makes a world of difference in the lives surrounding those people. For people who know that they are leaders, I think we can all agree that there is no moment where you realize this; it just happens.

For me, I always knew that I was a leader. I had always found myself stepping up and leading even when I was younger and I had grown up being told that I am a leader. I did however have a day when I realized that this actually makes a difference in the people that you surround. Even if you aren’t changing someones life, just being in the presence of a natural leader can change the atmosphere. I realized this the day that I listened to the 2016 Central Michigan girls soccer team speak to our Introduction to Leadership class.

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The captains of the girls soccer team came in to speak with us and automatically I connected with them. I was a captain of my high school soccer team. The difference between my soccer team and theirs was that theirs was very successful. The CMU girls team had a very good record and they owed their success in part to their captains for their leadership. My soccer team in high school was growing and very young so we weren’t as successful on the score board. I was however also a captain of my volleyball team in high school which was very successful in making it to the state semi-finals for two years. I could connect with them in this aspect as I had been on a team that really and truly didn’t need my skills on the court as much as my leadership abilities. I saw both aspects of the spectrum.

The captains of the soccer team said that in their role, they didn’t need to be controlling on the field; that’s not what the team needed. What the team needed was someone to create and maintain a positive atmosphere and relationships with each other. The captains told us that this was their biggest job, not to control the field. I found myself thinking back to my volleyball team where this was also my role. My team did not need me to tell them what to do, they needed me to encourage them and maintain a positive environment.

soccerI then began thinking to my soccer team in high school. When reflecting back, I did not see myself doing that as much as trying to help the team learn more about the game. At the time, I saw my role as making sure everyone knew what their job on the field was. Almost like a coach on the field. While I don’t think that the role I took on on this team was wrong because each team is different and needs different things from their leaders, I think that listening to the captains speak reminded me that their is also more than just a score board.

I think I did a very good job on my volleyball team as my role as captain. I gave my team the things that they needed to be successful. As a captain of my soccer team, I probably could have done more. It was important for me to help my younger teammates as much as I could on the field but I think I forgot to keep the positive fun environment. It is important as a leader to stay focused on the task at hand, but if you aren’t creating a positive atmosphere that makes people want to reach those goals then your goals become even further away from you.

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What I took away from the soccer team captains speaking is that it is important as a leader to evaluate the group/team in which you are working with and what they need from you as their leader. Sometimes people need you to just encourage and that’s it. Sometimes people need you to direct them and tell them exactly what to do and when. But a lot of the time, people need both. People need direction from their leader in what they should do but they also need encouragement in completing these tasks and goals.

After this lecture, my goal is to remember that each group, team, and individual needs different things from their leaders. In order to get the best from the people that you are leading, you need to create a relationship with them to figure out what exactly they are going to need from you in order to be the most successful. I would also like to self reflect on myself after working with a team to see if I did a good job in giving them what they need and what I could do differently to be even more successful.

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Leadership Education

“Enter a Learner…”

Tomorrow LAS class of 2020 will hit the buses to head to Detroit for a service learning trip. We will have the opportunity to facilitate activities for younger leaders, volunteer for different businesses in the Detroit area, and get to explore the city of Detroit.

Compared to my classmates I truly feel like I do not know much about Detroit at all. I have been downtown for a Tigers game and maybe a few concerts here and there but other than that I’ve never seen much and do not know a lot about the city. From what I’ve heard stereo-typically, Detroit is scary and dangerous. Whenever I’ve gone to Detroit my friends and family have always said “we don’t want to get lost in Detroit” in a bad manner as if that would be dangerous. From what I’ve learned in the past few days just from hearing about the things that have been discussed in our Leadership class and within my cohort, people love Detroit. There are so many amazing and beautiful places to visit and honestly I’m so conflicted. How could we go somewhere where people are so scared yet also so amazed by its beauty? I have heard about the social issues of poverty, violence, and racism in Detroit being at all time highs and to be blatantly honest I’m so curious to see what this is all about. I don’t know much about these issues in Detroit specifically but from all of the buzz I can only imagine that it has to be more extreme than what I’ve personally seen before.

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Within the Leadership Institute here at CMU, there is one main purpose and vision for the students, staff, and community that is affected by us:

“PURPOSE: Central Michigan University is committed to preparing Michigan’s students and citizens for leadership roles in an increasingly complex and challenging society.”

“VISION: The Leadership Institute prepares the next generation of individuals who will act responsibly to improve the quality of life, state of the economy, and communities in which they live and work.”

Our trip to Detroit is a great example of how the Leadership Institute includes the purpose and vision of the LI in the daily lives of its students. Going to Detroit and experiencing all of these new businesses and communities that many have us did not really know existed will open our eyes and prepare us for the real world. Already I am realizing that things aren’t the same everywhere; in fact they are very different. I personally have never experienced or seen a prime example of racism or poverty and I am hoping this service trip will open my eyes too all of the things that this complex and challenging society that we live in has to offer to emerging leaders like my classmates and myself. Being in Detroit will also allow us to leave our own personal impact on Detroit. We will not be able to save Detroit in 30 hours; this we are aware, but being able to go and leave a mark and realize that even though we aren’t changing the world we are making a difference which is just as important is a very important thing for us to see and learn. Realizing that if we all work to make the small changes in our own community and lives around us, big things happen. I think that this trip works to make an impact on our lives as leaders just as much as the lives that we are impacting while on this trip.

Overall I think that this trip is going to be one of the most impactful things on myself that I have ever done. I think that going to Detroit will open my eyes to so many things in our world that I didn’t realize truly existed in the daily lives of Americans. I think that this trip will help me realize how much still needs to be done in this world and in our own communities in general. I think that this trip will make me realize that each of our small contributions truly make a difference. The motivation that I get from this trip will be outstanding. I think that the skills and knowledge that I gain from this trip will be one of a kind and something that I will use for the rest of my life.

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Leadership Education

How Great Leaders Inspire Action

My recommendation before reading this blog is to watch the video that I have posted above. While I plan to give you my perspective on this video I think that what everyone takes away from this is different and the same all at one time therefore it is important to watch and see what different things you take away from this TED Talk.

The first thing that I took away from this video was the discussion on why we follow the people we follow. Why are certain people leaders? While I’m sure that there is more to it than just this, Sinek discusses that we follow who we follow because we know why they are doing something. We agree with their reasoning or relate to their situation. We did not follow Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. because he told us he had a dream, we followed him because he told us why he had this dream. In the same situation, we do not buy a dell mp3 player but we buy Dell computers because Dell has constantly advertised their computers and why we should buy their computers. Ultimately, it is not what you’re doing that matters, it is why you do it.

While watching this Ted Talk it reminded me of my previous post discussing whether leadership starts with a yes or a no; it doesn’t matter if you pick yes or no it matters why you pick yes or no.

In our Leadership 200 class, we partnered up and talked about our own whys. Why are we passionate about the things that we do and what drives us to get out of bed in the morning. My partner was one of my best friends, Lucas. Lucas is a goofy kid and honestly I didn’t know how well this was going to go. Turns out Lucas knows a lot about me that I didn’t even realize about myself. Lucas told me that from what I said, I ultimately do everything to make others happy. I just want to see other people smile. I found that literally every thing I do I do because it means that someone else will have fun or be happy because of it which ultimately makes me happy. I find the most joy in seeing others smile.

I then listened to Lucas talk about his passions and what he cares about and it was so crazy to me to realize that when you look at it from the “why” perspective, literally EVERYTHING we do pretty much ties back to that one reason. For me it is to make people happy, for Lucas it was to be an escape for people and make them realize everything is going to be okay no matter what. From here, we discovered our “why” statements.

My “why” statement is to inspire others to find the beauty in everything and seek the things that make them happy. This is why I do what I do. This is my goal as a leader. From now on, when I take on any new endeavor or even get frustrated with something I am already doing, I will come back to this why statement. I will remember why I am here and what my goal is. My goal is to make people happy from there I can evaluate to see if I am reaching this goal and what I need to achieve it.

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Leadership Education

Oprah Winfrey; A Leader of Today

 

When thinking about the leaders of today the first thing that came to my mind was…well…Donald Trump. This made me actually worry for our country for a moment. Then, I really thought about it. Who is someone that we all know and why do we know them? I came up with people like Barack Obama, Michelle Obama, Bill Gates, and even Miley Cyrus. While I truly believe that all of these people are leaders in their own way, I then thought of Oprah Winfrey. I’m not sure why Oprah popped into my head but I’m glad that she did. We all know Oprah. You don’t even have to know her last name and you know who we’re talking about. When I was six years old watching Drake and Josh on Nickelodeon, I knew who Oprah was. I was then hit with the big question: why is she a leader?

To be honest, I did not know how to answer that question. I thought “well she’s inspiring, the richest African American in the world, and I always hear about her giving to charity”. Cool. Then I realized that a lot of people do things of that nature. What makes Oprah so special? So, I did some research. I learned that Oprah grew up in poverty to a single teen mom. I learned that Oprah was molested at a young age and became pregnant due to this at age 14. I learned that Oprah Winfrey’s son then passed away during infancy. Let’s stop there; at age 14, Oprah Winfrey had gone through more tragedy in her life than most people ever do. I’m not saying that makes you a leader by any means but I think that if you look simply from where she was then to where she is now, she had to do something pretty terrific to come back from that.

“Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough.” -Oprah Winfrey

So let me tell you about all of the things that she did in the middle that make her a leader. Oprah decided to move in with the man that she calls her father in Chicago after losing her son. By age 19, Oprah had landed a job at a radio station co-anchoring the local evening news. From there, her career prospered due to her childhood story and she became the talk-show host at a local talk-show in Chicago. After becoming a third-ranked local talk-show host, Oprah decided to launch her own production company and begin her most famous talk-show, the Oprah Show.

“What I know for sure is that what you give comes back to you” -Oprah Winfrey

What makes Oprah special to me is that she did not stop there. Oprah continued to work hard and help others as much as she could. She didn’t say “I made it, I’m done”. Oprah now is also a producer, actress, and philanthropist. Oprah Winfrey has made her way into everyone’s lives. Oprah Winfrey is such an influential person that she brought almost one million votes to Barack Obama’s campaign in 2008 solely for giving him her vote. Oprah Winfrey is the face of Women and African American rights.

One thing that Oprah Winfrey did that inspires me the most was the Oprah Angel Network Katrina registry. This was a network that Oprah created following Hurricane Katrina which raised more than $11 million dollars for relief efforts. On top of this, Oprah personally gave the cause $10 million dollars.

Let’s flash back to where she was in the beginning; poverty. Oprah rose herself up. This is what makes her a leader to me. I and so many others are inspired by Oprah Winfrey because she was not given some kind of miracle. Oprah wasn’t just picked up by some famous celebrity. Oprah saw the things that she wanted to do and give to this world and she found a way to make it happen. The fact that she once had nothing and still shot for dreams of where she is solely to help people who need it. Solely to make her mark on this world. I am inspired by this because that is all that I want out of the life I am living.

I might not be shooting for dreams of being the richest women in the world or starring on Drake and Josh, but I want to change something. I want to leave this world better than how I found it and if Oprah can live the life and make the impact that she has from what she has been given, so can I.

“The essential question is not, “How busy are you?’ but ‘What are you busy at?’ ‘Are you doing what fulfills you?” -Oprah Winfrey

 

 

 

 

Leadership Education

A New Kind of Debate

When I heard that I was required to take a debate course for my LAS protocol I immediately got scared. I don’t do conflict. When I think of debate I think of people stuck in their ways trying to convince each other to believe them but having no intentions of really listening to the other side. I was surprised when I walked into this class and on the very first day, Dr. Professor Cory Hillman elaborated that this class would consist of debate through reasoning and knowledge. I really enjoyed this class because it forced us all to think of things from both perspectives. In our debates we had to actually refute what the other person was saying. It was less argumentation and more discussion. I think that what I’ve taken out of this class mostly is to be open minded and see things from all points of view. I’ve learned to realize that there is not always a right way and sometimes there are equal pros and cons to both sides of an argument. Being forced out of my comf0rt zone to argue for things that I don’t necessarily agree with forced me to have to see the other side of an argument and realize that there are pros to everything even if I still don’t agree with it. Overall, I’ve learned being able to accept everyone’s opinion and views is a very very important part of being an effective leader.

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Leadership Education, Leadership Training

Start With Why

In our LDR100 class, we were split into groups of about eight people and given a book to read and relate to our leadership experiences. We were then asked to do a presentation for our class to teach them what our book was about and demonstrate the things that we learned. Our book was about starting with a purpose and not just the product. We discussed starting with WHY you are doing something rather than what you are doing. To demonstrate this, we took videos of our friends and family discussing who their role models were and why. This taught that you pick your friends and family for who they are rather than what they do. You start with why they are your model.

“If we all take some responsibility to start with WHY and inspire others to do the same, then, together, we can change the world”. -Simon Sinek

In the book, Simon Sinek discussed the importance of the golden circle. The golden circle is a demonstration of how you should make decisions in order to be an effective leader. You start from the inside and move out. So, you start with why you want to do something. You move to how you’re going to do something, and then you figure out exactly what you are going to do. This is proven to be how successful businesses like Apple run their business. By using the idea of starting with why when working in groups, you will be a more effective leader in whatever it is you’re doing.

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Leadership Education, Leadership Training

Making a Connection

As a Freshman in LAS, we are taken to Central Michigan Universities Leadership Institute Connections Conference. The Connections Conference is held at Great Wolf Lodge in Traverse City (yes, we did get to play in the water park).

Going into Connections I really and truly had no idea what to expect. I was thinking something along the lines of a High School Leadership Conference; we all get lanyards and get in groups of people we don’t know, it’s awkward for a minute but then we all get really comfortable doing different leadership activities together. While it was kind of like this, it was not exactly.

When we first got to Connections we all went to our rooms to settle in for a minute, and then we went to this big ballroom where we had an introduction from the Leadership Institute. After the introduction we split into groups based on the ballroom written on our name tags (this I predicted). In the session we discussed some things dealing with leadership on campus and connecting with new people. After this meeting we went back and had dinner at tables based on a different sticker on our name tag (I was still right about the name tag thing I’d like to remind you). At dinner we had conversation cards that we used to get to know the other people at our table. It was really nice to get to know new people on campus and the different things that they’re interested in. After dinner it was water park time.. My mentor, Morgan was unable to go her freshman year, so she came this year with my cohort. Morgan and I spent most of our time obsessing over all of the babies in the water park and walking back and forth from the water slides and the hot tub. We left the water park to get ice cream and shower before we had to be back at the ballroom for a pizza speed dating. Here we just ate pizza and walked around and talked to people that we didn’t know trying to make connections with each other whether it be about leadership or our personal interests. I really liked this because it pushed me out of my comfort zone to meet new people and learn about their interests and passions on campus. After pizza and speed dating, it was time for bed.

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On the second day we woke up and had breakfast and then began our speaking sessions. This was the part that I had never experienced before and I really enjoyed. At every other conference I’d been to, everyone had the same speakers and whoever the conference had was what you got. At connections, there were about 5 different speakers for each of the four sessions. You were allowed to choose whichever speaker you wanted to listen to based on your interests and what you though would be most beneficial for you. After the session was up, five entirely new speakers would arrive and you would pick out of those five who you wanted to see. I really liked this because you were able to pick the speaker that interested you and benefited you the most. A lot of topics I’ve listened to people speak on a million times so it was nice to have options of things I might not have heard about yet. After lunch and those four sessions were over we met back with our original groups to discuss some more things about leadership on campus and how we can apply the things that we’d learned to our roles on campus and in our leadership positions.

Ultimately what I took away from from the Connections Conference is how making connections with people is the best way to learn about and accept the things that we do not understand in our lives. Everyday we see things and lets be honest you wonder what the point of something is or who would ever want to do or have that. Why would anyone ever want to join a squirrel watching club? Who would ever actually want to do that? Good question….. Here’s what I learned: ask. Ask why people are interested in what they are, why they do what they do; you’ll be surprised how much sense that makes and what you may be interested in as well. Try to make connections with the people you think you have no connections with because you will be so surprised.

 

Leadership Development, Leadership Education, Leadership Training

The Spark in My Eyes

As Anne Frank once said, “In spite of everything, I still believe that people are really good at heart”. We all make the choices we make because to us, that is the best choice that we can make; that is the best you that you can be in that moment. The challenge we are all faced with daily is ‘is this it? Is this the best we can ever be’.

Let’s just be completely honest here; anyone who regularly attends leadership conferences rarely ever goes into it thinking that they will come out of it a new person with all of these new ideas and philosophies. Every conference pretty much hits the basic points in different ways; the importance of team work, identifying different leadership styles, communication, et cetera, et cetera. Here’s the reality of a leadership: you probably will not learn some great, brand new life changing idea by going to a conference, meeting, training or really anything. Here’s another reality: that does not mean that you are the best that you can be and you know all there is to know; you are never done growing.

I went into Spark Leadership with a pretty good idea of what to expect. First there would be an opening speaker that would motivate you to look deeper into the meaniimg_0518ng of the activities and things that you were about to do (BTW you did great as always, Dan Gaken). You would then get into smaller groups based on the information on your name tag (you know what I’m talking about, the one that always makes you feel a little bit more sophisticated than what you actually are) that you would spend the rest of the day with learning and growing in leadership. You would then do activities that are usually fun, scary, exciting, and frustrating all at the same time and debrief afterward about what you learned and took away from the activity. After having fun with your new friends you would have another speaker or two to remind you of the ways that these new skills can be exemplified in your daily life. At the end you would get your goodies (tshirts are my favorite), fill out some last minute surveys or paperwork for the conference, and say your goodbyes to the people you spent the day with. For anyone that attended Spark Leadership or really any kind of conference or training can probably back me up in saying that this is pretty average. Anyone who has ever been can also say that you will always come out better than what you started regardless of the numerous times you’ve already done any of the activities or heard any of the speakers.

I believe that you learn more from the people whom you go through the activities with than anything. People are different and this shines within leadership. People have different strengths and weaknesses. You are not the best at everything. For a competitive overachiever, this is something that I still struggle to accept and remind myself of everyday. Trainings like Spark Leadership remind me that THIS IS NOT A BAD THING. How lucky am I to be able to learn something from every single person I meet, in an environment where everyone is a stranger? There are endless opportunities to learn from others’ strengths and weaknesses at Spark Leadership and this is my absolute favorite part of anything ‘leadership’.

If you take anything from this blog, please take this: you will never grow to your full potential if you cannot be honest with yourself. Self reflection is a key part in learning and this is one of the biggest things that I took away from Spark Leadership. Look at yourself in the beginning and see your strengths; appreciate them and utilize them. Then, look at your weaknesses and embrace them. Embrace them in everything you can. A leadership training is meant to push those weaknesses and make you better. If you cannot look at yourself and say “okay, this is what I need to be better at”, how will you know when to push yourself. Before Spark Leadership, I recognized that trust and stepping out of my comfort zone is my biggest weakness. I know the areas in which I am good at and I like to stick to them. I am good at giving instruction, I am good at seeing all sides of a situation, I am good at taking charge. But what happens when I choose to ignore those things? What happens when I choose to embrace my weaknesses? Well, my weaknesses become stronger. At Spark Leadership we did an activity where we all had a partner. One of us was blindfolded and one was not. We were told that we were to go through this obstacle course but we were not told that it was filled with mouse traps (yes, they were real and set), randomly placed desks, creepy music, and the noise of random traps going off with our partner. The partner that was not blindfolded had to lead the other through the course without touching them but if they touched any of the obstacles they had to start over. Normally I would have jumped to the role of leading the partner through the course. I had no idea what the course looked like, I did not know my partner, and I had faith that I would be able to lead her easily through the course. Instead of doing this, I asked to be the one blindfolded. This scared me. Bad. I did not know what to expect of the course, who this girl was, or like the fact that I would not be able to see. I chose to do this because before the training I recognized that this was where my weaknesses lay. This is where I wanted to improve my abilities. Being able to recognize that I am not very good at these things and being able to push myself to improve on them is how you get the most out of anything. At Spark Leadership I stepped out of my comfort zone and improved myself because I was able to recognize my own weaknesses.

So yes, every choice that we make is the best choice that we can make with the knowledge and experiences that we have been given. Everything that we do is out of the best parts of our hearts and this I truly believe. Even the most poor decisions are innocent; they are the decisions we make because that is what we have learned to be the best. The decisions that we make now that seem genius may seem silly in five years but right now that is the best we know. The difference between the best decisions and the worst decisions are simply the experiences and knowledge that we have gained. Spark Leadership is one of the experiences that I have taken advantage of to become the best me that I can be.