Leadership Development, Leadership Education

Freshman Year In Review

As I sit at my kitchen table writing this blog post, I am absolutely mind blown that my freshman year of college is over. HOW is it over? I feel like I just moved to Mt. Pleasant yesterday! When they same time flies as you get older, they aren’t kidding around. SO many things happened over the course of this year, and I grew so much.

As my senior year came to an end and summer began, I had the dreadful “move-in day” cloud hanging over my head. I knew that in a few short months, I would have to move to a completely new place and begin a new chapter of my life. Being extremely close to my parents and having the best friends in the world living minutes away from me, I was not ready to go to college at all. Eventually, August 20th came creeping up and it was time for me to start my freshman year at Central. I went through the week of Leadership Safari and I had a blast meeting new people, but I was ready to go back home. Unfortunately, it wasn’t a summer camp where you could just go home right after it ended. This place was my new home, and I had to get used to that. I was fine for the first couple of weeks (besides the HORRIBLE heat), but the feelings of homesickness really hit me during late September. I called my parents sobbing my eyes out multiple times a day, and started regretting my choice of going to CMU. I came home almost every single weekend because being home was my only feeling of comfort during those first few months at school. I toughed it out for a couple of months, and I finally felt comfortable in my dorm around Thanksgiving. I started spacing out the weeks that I went home so I had something to look forward to, and that helped me so much.

Around Christmastime, I was having the time of my life. I have such incredible roommates that I could not be more thankful for, and they bring out the best in me. I found myself living my life how I was before I moved to college, and I was back to my happy self. I went home for winter break, reconnected with all of my friends from high school, and got to see my wonderful family. What I wasn’t prepared for was going back up to school after winter break, because I started missing home again. This time wasn’t as bad, because I figured I was just used to being home for a while. And I was right- after about a week or two, I started feeling like my normal self again- thank you again, roomies!

Now, in late April, I am realizing that CMU is the best decision I’ve ever made. I am a part of the amazing LAS program, and I have made such incredible friends that I KNOW will last a lifetime. The LI helped me so much, and there were so many resources and people who I could go to if I ever needed help. I found my hobbies and study spots and really focused on myself this year. I grew so much as both a person and a leader, and I learned so many things. Here are just a few of them:

  • It is okay to cry. I promise. No one will judge you- and if they do, who cares?
  • It is also perfectly okay to visit home. After all, home is where the heart is!
  • Calling your parents more than one time a day is normal- even if it a 2 minute FaceTime to see your dog.
  • DO WHAT MAKES YOU HAPPY! Don’t worry about what anyone else thinks.
  • Bring lots of snacks with you. The caf is not good- sorry Robby.
  • People want to help you- you just have to ask for it!
  • Not everyone you meet is going to be your best friend- don’t force friendships.
  • Sleep is very valuable and naps are wonderful.

Over the course of this year, I realized all of these things and more. Freshman year was an up-and-down rollercoaster, but I am so thankful for the things that happened and the people I met. Fire up Chips!

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Leadership Development

Yes or No?

Does leadership come from a “yes” or a “no”? 

When I first read this question, I had to take a step back and reflect on what I was really being asked. After analyzing the question, I came up with what it meant to me: “Do leaders say “yes” or “no”? My first thought: it’s “no”. Why would you say yes to everything? Wouldn’t that just get you in trouble? What if something bad happens? What if the task is too hard or too much to handle? My second thought: it’s “yes”. It’s 100%, absolutely, most definitely “yes”. 

Saying “yes” opens doors, creates new opportunities, and encourages growth. Being a leader means trying new things, growing, and helping others. It also means listening, learning, overcoming barriers, and being the bigger person.

“Do you want to go volunteer?” “Yes.”

“Do you want to join a new club?” “Yep.”

“Do you want to go skydiving?” “Definitely.”

Saying “no” means you’re turning down new experiences, new friends, new lessons, and new stories. I believing in living life to its maximum potential, and making every day better than the one before it. Living life to its fullest means striving to be the best version of you, making every day count, being completely open to trying new things, and pushing yourself to get better at what you do.

Now What? Start saying yes- I promise you won’t regret it. Ordinary people do extraordinary things, and saying yes is just the beginning. New opportunities and experiences come from saying yes, and learning comes from stepping outside of your comfort zone- another thing to say yes to.

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Leadership Development

Leadership Lecture: The Dirty Dozen

As shown in a previous post, I attended a conference at Great Wolf Lodge with my LAS Cohort and some amazing staff members. This conference was the 2016 Connections conference, and it exposed us to many ideas, taught us useful skills that we could bring back to CMU, and helped us make new friends.

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One of the sessions I attended at Connections was titled, “The Dirty Dozen.” This was an interactive lecture presented by the lovely Erin Smith-Gaken. In this session, Erin told us all about the twelve ways we justify our bad behavior. She gave us remotes to use during the session, and she put up a powerpoint and had us enter in our answers to the questions she was asking us. For example, Erin asked the question, “If you went into a grocery store and realized-as you were unloading the cart into your car-that you forgot to ring up a Vitamin Water, would you go back inside and tell someone?” We all entered our answers into the powerpoint, and she showed us the results. Most people said that they would not go back in and would just continue unloading the cart, while a small percentage of people said that they would go back in the grocery store and pay for the Vitamin Water.

Now What? This survey made me really stop and think about things. First off, not paying for the drink is stealing- but we would justify the fact that we “stole” the Vitamin Water by saying that we already left the store, and that it is too much of a hassle to go back inside. Second, I realized that our minds try to get us to rationalize anything that we do with logical reasons so we don’t feel bad about what we’ve done. Erin told us the top twelve ways that we rationalize our mistakes, and it was crazy that almost everyone could relate to most, if not all of them. It made me realize that sometimes I need to take a step back and understand that it is okay to make mistakes, because everyone is human. Heck, making mistakes makes us human, and we need to learn to accept them rather than try to justify them so we don’t look bad. I really connected with this session, and I even find myself (to this day) thinking about The Dirty Dozen.

Leadership Development, Leadership Education

Start With Why

“Leadership requires two things: a vision of the world that does not yet exist and the ability to communicate it.” – Simon Sinek

In LDR 100, we were required to complete a book project for the end of the year. The project was to create a 20 minute presentation about a novel we were assigned in class. Each book had to do with leadership, and we were put into groups to work with.

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I was assigned the novel Start With Why by Simon Sinek. Start With Why is a book about a way of communicating that gives leaders the ability to inspire those around them. This novel was made into a well-known Ted Talk and has gotten over twenty nine million views since it was released. I attached a shortened version of the video below!

First, we started our presentation off with the “Why?” aspect of the book. We asked the class who their role models were, and told them to think about why this person inspires them. We then moved on to the “Golden Circle”, which includes three major parts. These parts are, “Why?” (what your purpose/beliefs are), “How?” (how something is different or better), and “What?” (what you do). We then moved on to the major themes of the book. The themes we mentioned were as follows: Inspiration, Passion, and Personal Leadership. We focused the Inspiration theme on the fact that the people we see as leaders are usually the ones who have inspired us. We then spoke about how we tend to find our “Why?” from the things we are passionate about. Lastly, we infused leadership with our own experiences and spoke about how  you have to be inspired in order to inspire others.

Now What? Simon Sinek taught me to find my own “Why?” statement and take a step back to really dig deep into things and topics that I usually wouldn’t think twice about. I can now rationalize my thinking, and am now able to explain why I feel the way I feel about a certain topic. This project was a fun one to create, and was even more fun to present!

Check out the video I made for our presentation below!

Community, Leadership Development, Leadership Training

Mentor/Mentee Retreat

On September 10th, 2016, I hopped on a bus with my LAS cohort and the sophomore cohort above us. We headed over to Eagle Village in Hersey, Michigan for the weekend. After hanging out for a little bit, we presented the “Road Map” life timeline project that we were required to create before retreat. Later on, we were required to do a list of team building activities. We were assigned a certain group, and we stuck with that group for the weekend. After a long day of stressful events, we all gathered around a campfire to make s’mores and give “shoutouts” to our friends and mentors. This was my favorite part of the night, because it really showed how genuine these people are. Everyone was opening up and showing their true feelings, and it was amazing to see everyone’s different personalities.

The next morning, we had some free times to climb rock walls and hang out. It was my first time climbing a rock wall, so I was as nervous as ever. It also didn’t help that I was afraid of heights! As I was climbing the wall, I was about to give up because I thought I couldn’t climb any higher. The mentors and mentees on the ground below me kept urging me to go higher and were cheering me on, so I got a burst of adrenaline and kept climbing. I felt so awesome once I reached my goal, and I was so happy that I was able to get over my fear of heights (for a little bit, at least). After rock climbing, we went back to our team building activities. These activities were stressful and required teamwork and concentration. For one of the activities, the requirement was to take two PVC pipes and a golf ball and get the ball to the other side of the room without it falling onto the ground. This activity took our group two hours to complete. Yeah, you read that right- TWO HOURS. Everyone was getting extremely frustrated that the ball kept falling onto the ground, so our group leader offered us the option to give up and move on to the next activity. My group wasn’t ready to accept failure, and we continued the activity for a while longer. Finally, after several (and I do mean several) tries, we got the ball to the other side of the room. My entire group started screaming and running around, and we all were ecstatic that we kept trying and finally achieved our goal.

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After the team building events, we moved on to the High Ropes course. As I mentioned before, I really hate heights. I was nervous to participate in the course, but I decided to do it because I wanted to gain a new experience and I was hoping to learn something new out of it. After saddling up and putting our helmets on, I climbed up the ladder with my mentor, Faith, and my LAS “brother”, Markus. The very first course I did involved crawling across a rope, and I instantly fell off and had to work my way back to the platform. Every time I fell off, someone would cheer me on and tell me that I could make it to the end of the course. Each course required various skills and determination, and it was extremely tiring. Not to mention, the course was around 50 feet off the ground. Once again, heights- not my thing.  Though I fell off multiple times, I was pleasantly surprised by the outcome of the ropes course. I learned new skills and got to step out of my comfort zone and try something new.

Now What? Retreat was something I’ll always remember, and I loved getting to bond with new friends from my cohort that I didn’t get to talk to very often. The event taught me many skills, and really showed me what leadership is about. I can’t wait to make even more connections with people within my cohort and experience many new things with them. I am excited to develop new skills and show everyone the leader I can be. I am so thankful that I was able to connect with genuine, kindhearted people, and learn new skills that I can use for the rest of my life.

Check out this awesome Retreat video for a recap of our weekend!