Sunday October 22, 2017

Fall Leadership Conference 2017

I'm always looking for an opportunity to spend my weekends being productive or learning something new.

Last weekend, the annual fall leadership conference was held in Kennedy Union. The fall leadership conference is an amazing opportunity for students to come together to develop their leadership skills within the community--whether you're a student organization leader, a student manager, apart of housing and residence life, or wanting to build your leadership skills. Not only was it an amazing turn-out this year, but what really attracts students besides the path points is the opportunity to have a free professional headshot taken for your LinkedIn profile, the wide variety of workshops throughout the day, and the amazing keynotes that are usually in attendance. 

This was the first year that I was able to stay for the entirety of the conference, so going into to it, I had high expectations and was sure that I would not be disappointed. Considering the great relationship that I have with Daria Graham, Director of Student Leadership Programs, I was informed early on about the great keynote speaker that was scheduled to come to the conference. I was told how bright and welcoming of a woman she was, and by some of my student leader friends that had the opportunity to sit down for lunch with her that she was a woman who loved to get to the point, the "nitty gritty" of an issue, and wasn't afraid to ask questions

These all sound like qualities of a great leader to me, and I was so excited to hear Dr. Donna Lee speak to the rest of my peers at the conference. 

One thing that I took away from her speech was her recurring call to "Be bold. Be Brave. Be Brilliant.

Being bold to me means to think and live outside of the box that others and even yourself may be trapped in. Sometimes that box that we entrap ourselves in can look sound like "I'm not good enough for that," or  "I'm not cut out for that," or "I will never get that." They could look like the predetermined, rigid image that we have of ourselves that could, at the end of the day, be harmful to our growth as a whole person. These images may limit us from reaching toward new goals that could benefit us in the future, so it is important for us to break free of those molds and visualize our potential outside of the "norms".

To be brave means to take risks, ask questions when you know that you don't know everything, ask for help as a leader and make relationships with those "higher-ups" who can do nothing but help with your network and be a great connection to you. I also think being a brave leader means to make yourself vulnerable to the people that you serve, let them see a human side of you as you open up and show them that you are a genuine person there to help them and serve a diverse community. Being brave means to speak your truth despite what others may have to say, and to not be afraid of the person that you truly are and how you express yourself. 

To be brilliant means to, according to Dr. Donna Lee,  "know your why"--to understand the reason behind the tasks that you do, what keeps you going, and why your work is important to you. Dr. Lee shared that her "why" was her son and that she chose to live a life of being bold, brave, and brilliant because she wants to inspire others to do the same so that her son can grow up in a world full of that positive energy and influence.

My "why" is probably my desire to give back to my parents considering all they sacrificed for me to get the best education possible and have more opportunities than they did in life. I want to be able to give them the opportunity to retire and live comfortably so that they don't have to work their entire lives and they can see that their hard work paid off. 

The important message from this part of the keynote address was that following these three calls to leadership will allow each and every one of us to show up to  job or leadership team and be our best, a quality important to me because most of the time, it is the only facet of a situation that we can have control over. When we go out and being to work in team environments, the greatest way that each individual can contribute is to simply be the best that they can be in their area. No single individual can control "success"-- a highly relative idea-- but it is easy to say that success cannot happen if everyone on that team is not putting their best foot forward. It is the least that we can do for the communities that we will soon serve. 

After the keynote, I had my FREE professional headshot taken (which, by the way, looks amazing and had me reconsidering my career in modeling), attended two breakout sessions on accessing success through backward goal setting and responsibility and accountability as a student leader. I then enjoyed a free, delicious lunch before I attended a roundtable discussion led by President Eric Spina himself on leadership for the common good. I then concluded my conference experience by attending a brief "power session" on the usefulness and convenience of having a powerful LinkedIn profile and set some goals that I had for myself as a leader, one of them being to focus some time on bringing in the next generation of leaders who will someday take my place as an executive board member of my student organization. 

I left the conference feeling uplifted, fulfilled and inspired to go out in the UD community and work towards some of the goals and ideas that I set and gained from the day. It's truly rewarding to know that UD continues to provide on-campus conferences like these for the community to attend free of charge and so that we have the opportunity to learn together and bring out the potential that we see in our peers. I went to the conference with a number friends and colleagues from HRL, and it was a great day to experience leadership development as a team.

I am looking forward to next year already!

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