Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Being a Leader

Leadership is ingrained in me. Read about what I have learned as a leader in high school.

In middle school, I struggled to find a fulfilling sense of purpose. I was self-conscious and immature. Nevertheless, I still exceeded the expectations of others, being known as the nice girl, the excellent student, and the soccer player. But I had not found a passion. With 7.4 billion people on the planet, how could I contribute?

Leadership became the answer. I entered high school somewhat reserved about going to such a large school, with over 4,000 students. But by diving headfirst into a variety of clubs, I started to make a name for myself.

I learned about what skills I possessed and which ones I needed to develop as a leader. I am reliable, organized, energetic, and happy-go-lucky. Despite my get-it-done attitude, I needed to improve my delegation skills. Initially, I got excited and attempted to complete all the work myself, but after chairing my first event in Student Government, I learned the benefits of spreading the work.

A successful leader needs proper delegation skills. It’s imperative to take advantage of everyone's unique abilities. Some people are artistic, some excel at public speaking, and some are very organized. If a leader doesn’t take the time to get to know the strengths of their followers, their talents won’t be able to be harnessed. A team will reach their highest level of success when all members are performing their best.

As a current senior in high school, I have a drive to leave Student Government in the best condition possible. One way I've tried to ensure this is by helping our underclassmen members become the best versions of themselves. Understanding their feelings of insecurity and awkwardness, I've coached many. In one example, I helped a shy freshman who loved Student Government, but was too scared to participate. I assigned her to lead a simple tug-of-war game, quickly building her confidence. During meetings, I'd give her positive reinforcement and encouragement to speak her mind. She went from not speaking a word during meetings to leading an event.

Servant-leadership is a crucial aspect of taking charge. A servant-leader focuses on the growth and success of the community they belong to. According to the The Robert K. Greenleaf Center for Servant-Leadership, “The servant-leader shares power, puts the needs of others first and helps people develop and perform as highly as possible.” A leader shouldn’t be concerned about fulfilling their own needs, rather meeting the needs of the group.

Each semester, in Student Government, I plan and execute an event to benefit the community. The first event was writing letters to veterans. Honoring our veterans after all their sacrifices is very important to me. It was amazing to have fifty of my classmates pour their hearts out to these heroes. Next, we volunteered for an organization where we played soccer with children with special needs. We got to interact with these amazing kids and teach them the sport. Our most recent event was going to an elderly care home and singing carols. All of these events reinforce to me what it means to give back. Planning and executing each event has taught me to follow my passions and drive.

To conclude, a leader should be passionate about what they’re doing. If a leader has the intrinsic motivation to carry out their duties, then success will follow. Passion makes a self-motivated leader who constantly pushes themself to do better. Followers recognize and respect a leader who truly cares about the cause.

In order for a leader to establish proper delegation skills, a servant-leadership mentality, and passion, they need to dive in and practice. In four years of high school, I have transformed from a shy girl to a confident woman ready to take on any challenge. As a leader, you get out what you put in.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Night to Shine!

I got to go to prom early this year.

On Friday, February 10, I was given the privilege to volunteer at Night to Shine at Christ's Church. Night to Shine is a prom put on for individuals who have special needs, sponsored by the Tim Tebow Foundation. This was my first year volunteering and I chose to be a buddy.

My guest for the night was Ava. She is nonverbal, but could understand what I was saying. I was pushed out of my comfort zone as I had to learn to communicate with her. I wanted to ensure she would have the most fun night. We spent a lot of time in the karaoke room listening to people sing. We hit the dance floor a little and played games as well. I'm grateful I was paired with Ava because I had a new experience to take back with me. Even though we didn't have conversations, her laughs and smiles said it all.

If you're interested in volunteering for this event next year, here is more information. Don't be scared if you don't have much experience working with individuals with special needs! There are plenty of different activities you can do based on your comfort level. You can sign up to be a photographer, hair stylists and manicurist, serve food, or work in a game room. As long as you have an open mind and friendly attitude, you will do well.