As a Leader Advancement Scholar I have had many opportunities to give back, which is something I am deeply passionate about. In an earlier blog post of mine I reflected on my service trip to Detroit before going. I have always loved Detroit, but my love grew even more when I got to work with students at Jalen Rose Leadership Academy and volunteer at Cass Community Social Services. I was able to spend time doing various service projects with the students, such as making posters for Special Olympic athletes and making cards for veterans. The students were friendly and their smiles said it all. It was very refreshing and eye-opening talking to the students about everything from school to family. While the view from the Outdoor Adventure Center may have stolen my breath away, the service did just the same.
My favorite part of our 24 hour service trip was helping make mud mats out of recycled, illegally dumped tires. The workers at Cass go out and find these dumped tires, cut them into strips, and then string them together with wire and beads. The workers here are all previously homeless trying to get on their feet with the help of Cass by making these mud mats, working in the soup kitchen, or doing various other tasks. The mats are very intricately made and all the workers pride themselves on how beautiful they are when their completely done. The worker that oversaw Sarah Lemanski and I was the sweetest man and really helped us out to make sure we understood the process completely. We both teamed up on making the largest mat with six different colored beads, so he definitely gave us a challenge. After we finally finished with the mat I stepped back an couldn’t believe how beautiful this piece of work was, and what made it most special was knowing how they came from dirty old tires and got turned into something so beautiful. It reminded me that everything, even those covered in dirt and hardships, can have beauty.
” Whether they’re individuals or organizations, we follow those who lead, not because we have to, but because we want to. We follow those who lead, not for them, but for ourselves. And it’s those who start with ‘why’ that have the ability to inspire those around them or find others who inspire them.”
What. How. Why. These are the three key words that make up the golden circle of great leadership. In the Simon Sinek TEDTalk, he begins with a simple three-ringed circle drawn on flip-chart paper. He starts with the outer most layer and labels it ‘what’, then labels the second most inner layer and labels it ‘how’, and then he labels the inner circle with ‘why’.
Sinek’s TEDTalk made a clear point that people usually know what they are doing, some know how they do it, but often people don’t know or state why they do it. He mapped out this circle to prove a main point: “People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.” He uses this tactic to explain how inspirational leadership and genuinely good leadership comes from starting with your ‘why’, because once you start wit your why everything else falls into place.
Simon Sinek also uses examples like Apple, the Wright Brothers, and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. because all of these people and companies start with their why to become successful. People believe in you as soon as you stand strong for why you’re doing something or why you’re fighting for a cause or why you want change. People don’t listen about what you want, they listen about why you believe it because it shows that it really means something to you. I really love this TEDTalk because I couldn’t have said it better myself. Believe in yourself and your leadership skills, and so will others.
During the Connections Conference I was lucky enough to attend a session called Redefining Empathy, and we sure did just that. Empathy is often confused with sympathy, yet these two words could not be more opposite. As Steely Pegg and Tim Popma, the session speakers, said “Empathy is not just a buzzword, it’s a way of living and leading.” Usually people view empathy through a one-dimensional lens but in reality vulnerability, courage, and being connected to a person are extremely powerful forces that create change within communities and relationships.
Empathy: the ability to understand and share the feelings of another.
Sympathy: feelings of pity and sorrow for someone else’s misfortune.
To feel pity on someone, sympathy, is not the same as understanding and sharing the same feelings, empathy, as someone else. People often think that they are being empathetic when they try to “one up” someone’s situation or tell them that things could be worse. Here is a video to explain the difference a little more:
This session helped me to understand how to be an empathetic leader and that it is okay to be vulnerable and open up. I have always been a very open person who likes to listen to people and comfort them, so being empathetic is in my nature. But often times people, even myself, will confuse empathy and sympathy. It is good to know the differences and when both are acceptable and when they are not.
Every Tuesday and Thursday at 9:30am I spend an hour and fifteen minutes with half of my LAS cohort in COM 267L, or better known as Debate. I am quite an open-minded individual, but like everyone else, I do have my opinion. This class forced me to break down barriers and see controversial topics from both sides, as well as defending what I believe in without crossing the line. I got to debate about raising the legal driving age to 18, getting more funding for the arts in schools, and more. This class not only challenged my thinking, but it taught me how to spot faulty arguments, how to properly back myself up when getting a point across, and also how to debate in the correct way. Personally, this class taught me so much more than I ever expected it to and definitely brought me closer to part of my LAS cohort. My debate partner, Madi McEachern, helped me out immensely and always brought her A game to our debates against Katie House and Liz Colvin. I can proudly say that Madi and I won all of our debates and put in a huge amount of effort and research when doing so. Overall, this class taught me more than I thought it would and now I can successfully debate!
Leadership conferences are something that have consumed my life in the best way possible. From MASC/MAHS conferences to MYLead conferences, leadership is something that I have lived and breathed for over the past six years. Taking time out of my busy college life to attend a weekend at The Great Wolf Lodge for this year’s Connections Conference was one of the best decisions I have made (even if it was required to attend). This leadership conference helped me realize why I was at CMU to begin with and it reenergized the leader in my soul.
From hearing guest speakers talk about their experiences or giving us helpful tips, Connections truly brought CMU students together as a whole. I met people from all different Student Organizations and got to bond with them in a way I wouldn’t have if it weren’t for this conference. My LAS cohort and I got to experience a wonderful break from college for a while, but all whilst bettering ourselves as leaders so we could go back to campus feeling refreshed and ready to take on the rest of our first semester. I am forever grateful for the many opportunities the Leadership Institute has provided me with, this conference being one them. I recommend any CMU student leader that wants to learn how to better themselves and their community to attend this conference in 2017! If you click here you can find out more about the Leadership Institute and be on the look out for any updates for things to enhance your leadership skills.
As a Central Michigan University Leader Advancement Scholar, I had the wonderful opportunity to meet our University President, Mr. President Ross. Not many college students can say that they got to shake hands with their school’s President as well as listen to him speak and answer our questions for an hour. Ross is one cool guy let me tell you, he was so kind and considerate with our crazy LAS cohort and he answered all our questions in a meaningful way. I noticed how much he really cares for CMU and how passionate he is about leadership and keeping students on the right track. I am so glad I had a chance to listen to the struggles and difficulties President Ross went through, and I can quite honestly say that CMU is in the right hands with him in charge. President Ross made me feel like I can and will do anything I put my mind to, and I will always remember just how powerful and motivational his words were to me. Fire up Chips!
As the buses rolled up bright and early, the entire Barnes Hall lobby was filled with tired eyes, but bright and energetic souls. All the freshmen in the 2015 LAS cohort quickly found their mentors, strapped on our fanny pants, and began to awe over the weekend ahead. As we arrived to Eagle Village and went over the ground rules of the site, we dove right into some challenging leadership activities. Everyone and their mentors were assigned to a small home group with about eight or nine other mentor/mentee pairs. My group and I first headed over to an outdoor wide-scale obstacle course, and my was this hard. All twenty or so of us had to carry a little tub of plastic balls and foam cubes through each obstacle—but everyone had to be touching the tub or a rope clipped to a tub. Although this was challenging, it brought out everyone’s leadership style and helped us bond as a group so that we could be successful in the end, which we were.
As the day carried on and more activities challenged not only the way we think but how we act, the night bonfire was something I might not ever forget. Two cohorts formed one large family around this bonfire and emotions were high as many opened up about themselves. This bonding moment was something completely different and wonderful all on it’s own.
The high ropes course was Sunday morning and boy did it have me feeling some type of way. As me myself am afraid of heights, I did not think this whole “strap yourself in with a harness and climb around obstacles in the air” thing would work out. Oh how wrong I was. Once I climbed up the ladder to reach the first obstacle I felt such a surge of adrenaline and empowerment—I could actually do this. Through the support of the fellow LASers on the course with me, I felt so unbelievably great and conquered one of my biggest fears. I cannot wait until I get a little mentee of my own and am able to help guide them through the many obstacles, not only at Eagle Village, but in life.