This past weekend, I attended my last Board of Governors Meeting as Alumnae President. I also got to talk with the Freshmen Intro to Leadership class.
When I started writing about leadership, I brought in a coxswain point-of-view, paired with a young professional’s ambition, as seen in this post (and also this post). But when I met with the freshmen, I realized all of that didn’t really hold much weight to them. I had to start at the beginning.
Why did I choose to be a leader?
Why did I jump at this position?
What was the spark that started the fire?
When I was in college, my Reverend told me something invaluable. She said, “When you’re sitting there thinking ‘I can do this better,’ you obligate yourself to do so.”
Don’t wait for your turn. Don’t hoard all your good ideas. Don’t do it for the recognition.
Do it because it is right, or stop complaining.
In high school, I had to move around a lot, starting over every couple of years. Leadership was not an option when you’re continually trying rebuild your foundation. When you’re that young, most of your confidence comes from your peers. Ask anyone who’s ever run for Student Council…. In that world, going out on a limb is the scariest thing. (Read A Separate Peace)
For me, the key was showing up. Be present. Show genuine interest in what you’re doing through your time and effort. You don’t have to be a leader yet, just someone who is interested in the cause and wants to learn more. Your actions will speak for themselves. And then when you’re ready, you make your move and it’ll seem like the most natural thing in the world.
One of the things I tried to do during my term was to be more visible and active on campus. That meant flying up to Virginia more than expected. In case you’re wondering, it was completely worth it.
I learned that I am the type of leader who likes to get her hands dirty. The type that will email often, push the agenda, and doesn’t want things to be business as usual. I like being a fun leader, and letting my age show every now and then. I can wear different hats and engage with many different types of people. I’m not changing the world, but I think I changed the perception on what it means to be an active volunteer.