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 Training

Mentor/Mentee Retreat

As a freshman in college, there are many things to look forward to in the first weeks of school. As a Leadership Advancement Scholar, there are even more things to look forward to in your first few weeks of school and there is one thing that us Freshman talk about for weeks… Mentor/Mentee Retreat.

One of the really special things about LAS is the Mentor/Mentee pairings that you receive throughout your college career. When you get accepted into LAS as a senior in high school, there is a process set up so that every incoming freshman receives a mentor throughout your college career. As a sophomore, you will receive your own mentee to help guide through their years here at CMU. This is one of the most fun parts of LAS.

Within the first few weeks of being at CMU, the freshman and sophomore mentor/mentee pairs go on a retreat weekend to Eagle Village to get to know their mentor/mentee and learn how to work with and support each other. This experience is something that I know I will never forget and I’m so excited to take my mentee to next year.

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My mentor is Morgan Clark. Morgan and I are a special duo because we are pretty much a hot mess all of the time. I actually had the opportunity to hangout and get to know Morgan before the retreat which made my experience so much more fun because I was already comfortable with and loved Morgan. We discovered before retreat that we have awful luck and are both physically incapable of doing anything remotely athletic so we knew that retreat would be a struggle. The best part is that we were excited to do it anyways.

If there is one thing that I’ve learned from Morgan at retreat and simply from having her in my life it is to push yourself. Like I said before, Morgan and I knew that we would struggle on most activities at retreat. I mean if it puts it in perspective for you, Morgan and I each counted 30+ bruises and scratches on our bodies after that weekend. But our motto was that if we were going to do bad, we might as well try our hardest. So yes, if there was a way to make any activity more difficult for us, we shrugged our sholders and and said “why not” even though there are a thousand reasons that two unathletic girls should not try to be athletic.

One way that Morgan and I pushed ourselves was rock climbing. I have not been rock climbing since age 6 and at gymnastics class.. I knew that this would not be easy. But we decided to do it anyways. And to make things better, we chose to tie ourselves together while climbing. If we’re going to go down hard, why not go down trying our hardest, am I right? The best part about this was that we actually didn’t fail. Morgan and I made it all the way to the top of the wall tied together. While it wasn’t easy and there were multiple times that the words “Morgan I literally can’t do it” came out of my mouth, Morgan continued to encourage me and help me figure out a way I could do it.

img_0030The next thing that we did that I’m still not quite sure how was “the wall”. The wall was an activity that we did with other mentor/mentee pairs where we have to get everyone over a giant wall using just our teammates. This may sound easy but let me tell ya…. no. While at this point Morgan and I had already said we don’t care what it is that we’re faced with this weekend, we’re trying everything, I really really did not think this one was going to happen. And to my surprise with these doubtful thoughts rolling through my head, Morgan volunteers to go first. This is a shining of example of where Morgan has taught me to step out of my comfort zone. Morgan knew how difficult this activity was in general but then she stepped out of her comfort zone and pushed herself to go first.

So if you ask me about my absolute most memorable moment from mentor mentee retreat, it would be the high ropes course. Morgan and I were both to say, at the least, scared as Hell. We tried to make jokes about it and laugh it out but lets be honest, nobody enjoys dangling in the air on cords trying to walk across thin ropes. So what did Morgan and I do? Well… we said we are already freaking out so why not just go all out and blindfold ourselves in the air too. Everyone told us how ridiculous we looked and how loud our screams were when we would fall because we could not see anything. We were also told good job for pushing ourselves to do things that we aren’t comfortable doing. I am extremely confident in saying that I would never have done that without Morgan and I’m so happy that we did. While there were times when being able to see would have helped us a lot, completing an obstacle successfully without seeing, I felt so accomplished doing something I never would have thought I could.

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One thing that Morgan and I tried that we didn’t necessarily excel in but I give us points for trying was the ladder in the high ropes course. The ladder was just a bunch of 4 by 4 pieces of wood hanging from cables in a ladder that dangled and swung from the ceiling. perfect-picWe saw it and, again, shrugged our shoulders and thought “why not”. There were 8 bars on this ladder from floor to ceiling. We made it to the fourth and while it was physically draining, our goal when starting was just to make it to the third bar. We really did almost give up. I mean really we sat on the third bar for twenty minutes contemplating attempting the next level. We then spent 30 minutes trying to get to the fourth. Then, when we decided that we had already exceeded our goals and wanted to go down, Morgan fell on the wrong side of the ladder and there was no way for us to get down except do it all over again so that her cord was on the right side of the ladder to be able to get down. Literally writing this blog right now I am laughing because we were so amused by the fact that we had to do it all over again that we just laughed for 10 minutes. We barely made it to the 4th level the first time.. how were we going to do it again.. Honestly this was a disaster and took way longer than it should have, but we did it. This taught me that when things go wrong, you laugh about it, and you pick yourself up and keep going. Although I think this ladder was where all 30+ bruises of ours came from and we were sore for the week following, this was the most fun part of mentor/mentee retreat.

I can honestly say that this was a weekend that I will never forget and I think that without this to start off my freshman year, I would not have had the same experience this first semester. I would not have pushed myself socially, academically, and physically in the ways that I have had I not learned from Morgan during the mentor/mentee retreat that I can literally do anything if I try.

“You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take” -Wayne Gretzky

 

Leadership Development, Leadership Education

Leadership Safari; Novices Ready to Learn

Novices; plural of novice- someone who is just beginning to do something; someone who is not yet a full member of a community. Synonyms: learner, beginner.

Leadership Safari is a four day program at the beginning of the year for incoming freshmen at Central Michigan University. At Leadership Safari, students have the opportunity to learn about the different aspects of leadership, how leadership is portrayed throughout campus at CMU, and to branch out of their comfort zone to new relationships and experiences. There is no other freshmen orientation that can even be compared to Leadership Safari.

At Leadership Safari, the participants were all broken into small groups of about ten participants and one student safari guide on the very first night. I did not know anyone in my group of black leopards, and I had no clue that I would spend the next four days learning about what kind of experience we were going to get here at CMU through tears, laughter, and anger. I had gone to countless leadership conferences in the past, by this time I thought I was a pro and had done all there was to do at a leadership conference, but I had no idea how all of the things that Safari has to offer can make such a huge impact on someone.

safari

Coming into this, we were all novices. We were new. Whether you had never attended a leadership conference, never been away from your parents for that long, or were just a new student at CMU this was a new experience for everyone. The truth is, I don’t think anyone came into this expecting what they got out.

Between talking about extremely personal topics with practically strangers, crying to slam poetry, and activities that show you who you really are, this week is hard. This week is exhausting. This week is uncomfortable. This week is sad. This week is happy. This week is only described in one word as “Safari”.

The toughest thing for me during this week was being pushed outside of my comfort zone. I try to hide it because I know that it is not a strength of mine, but I am very shy. I wouldn’t say I don’t like meeting new people or trying new things, but they scare me. Like I said, Safari is full of new things and new people. There is not one activity that you do where you don’t either try a new thing or meet a new person. So having to be out of my comfort zone this entire week was hard for me. I recognized this right away. I recognized within the first hour of Safari that this was going to be a challenge, so in everything that I did, I tried to figure out ways that I could push myself as far as I possibly could.

Recognizing ways that you can push yourself and others around you to be better is one of the most import parts of leadership. By being able to see your own strengths and weaknesses, you are able to act upon them to utilize your strengths and strengthen your weaknesses. Safari was an amazing way to practice the skill of self evaluation and stepping out of your comfort zone because we were constantly doing things to push us to our highest potential.

Leadership Safari opened my eyes to the fact that there is always more to be learned. There is always more to benefit from. There is always more to do. Like I said, the number of leadership conferences I have attended in my years is probably close to record breaking (sorry I’m dramatic, I know). So coming into Safari, I had done a lot of the activities we did. I had heard almost anything that the speakers said somewhere, sometime before; but there was something different about hearing it in a place where everything and everyone is new. There is something to be said about an atmosphere where you are surrounded by people who are there because they want to make a difference. Being in a place like that makes you see things differently. It’s hard to explain, but you realize that there are so many things that are so much bigger than yourself and you start to hear things a little bit differently and start to see things through different eyes. Safari showed that no matter how many times you hear the same speech, no matter how many times you play the same game, no matter how many times you’ve done the trust fall, you are always looking at things from a different set of eyes than you did the last time and there is always more to be taken out of these things than what you may have gotten before.

Overall, Safari is definitely one of those things where you get out what you put in. It is however an experience that is impossible to not take anything out of. I would recommend Leadership Safari to any incoming freshmen. In fact, I think I may even go back next year as a Safari Guide because I’d like to help other freshmen have an as poignant experience as I had.