When leaving my college friends at the end of the year, I knew I wasn’t going to be sad for too long when a week into the summer, I’d be attending a week long leadership conference called, Leadershape. was hosted at Albion College by Central Michigan University. The institute challenges individuals to lead with integrity and create a vision that correlates with their values. During this week I learned a lot about myself and others, how to lead, and the path that will make me into who I want to be. Leadershape was a transformational week in how I view my ability to make a change and work with others for a common goal.
Day one at Leadershape was focused upon building community. I was in the Gold session of the institute which was then divided into smaller groups called family clusters. I was fortunate enough to spend the week with the Jumpin’ A Team. I didn’t know many of my family members going into it, but I was excited to get to know them and explore leadership together. Building community helps get things accomplished in social change. Learning about those around you and becoming comfortable with them can be increased growth for the both of you. From this day on I wanted to be comfortable with being uncomfortable with meeting new people and being in new situations. Everyone has their own stories and I was excited to learn more about those I’d be spending my week with.
The Value of One, The Power of All
Day two was focused upon behavior, emotional intelligence, and leadership inclusiveness. We took a personal profile on our leadership style called DISC. I learned that I was an S that stands for Steadiness. S’s are always absorbed in filling the needs of others. Sometimes we can be indecisive and not as direct, which may make it hard to work with us. My most outstanding qualities are that I’m a team-person, loyal, and generous. We also made goals for the week and mine was to speak up and not to be afraid to share my opinion. Included in this was to be confident and stand up for what I believe in.
Challenging What Is, Looking To What Could Be
Day three we dug deep into creating a vision, or something we wanted to create for the future. Aligning our passions with our values reflecting what we care about and making a change. After my freshman year and the volunteer experiences I’ve had, I’ve learned about the importance of service. How a little action can mean so much. I grew up in a small down and didn’t realize how many ways there are to give back to the community. Combining Leadership, Citizenship, and Christianity my vision was: Youth are more aware of their ability to be a leader and help others around them. I gained so much confidence by being around other passionate people and my ability I have to fulfill my vision and change the world.
Bringing Vision to Reality
Day four we created both stretch and manageable goals to fulfill our vision. Stretch goal: to create a non-profit organization based on the values of leadership, citizenship, and christianity. Manageable goal: Find 20 organizations to volunteer for/donate to. Also to create a high school program for students to engage in citizenship by the time I graduate college. I hope to find others with similar visions to pair with to accomplish my goal and the change the outlook of future youth on the world around them.
Living and Leading with Integrity
Day five of Leadershape consisted of defining our “Core Values” or principles that guide our actions, beliefs, and decisions. I chose Citizenship, Authenticity, Love, Faith, and Honesty as the values that mean the most to me. After all participants defined these values, we wrote them on a paper t-shirt and walked around to look at what each other value. I found it interesting to recognize how a lot of values are similar but how different people took them into consideration in different ways. We then were given statements to respond to with standing by a agree, disagree, strongly agree or strongly disagree. Reflecting upon our values and using our digression to decide whether to follow them and act ethically or act otherwise. After completing the activity, I really wished that I wore my values with me all the time to ensure that my decisions were helping me stay true to what I value most.
Staying in Action
After being in such an inclusive environment for 6 days, I knew it was going to be difficult to enter back into the real world and remain focused on completing my vision. One of the biggest realizations I needed to make was that others doubts should not bring me down. My goal on “day 7” is to share my vision with others and to remain enthusiastic about the change I want to make in this world. Remaining connected to my Leadershape family will keep me encouraged to move forward with my vision
The most important things I learned at Leadershape is that it is so important to treat others equally and with respect. The differences we all have in this world should bring us together not apart. Including my faith in my vision and speaking openly about it made me act and stay true to my beliefs. I want to continue to act boldly and share the importance of what I believe in. I did accomplish my goal for the week of speaking up and sharing my opinion more and realizing that I do have good things to say. I am so thankful to have had the opportunity to attend Leadershape. I look forward to living out my commitment to lead with integrity by staying true to my values and accomplishing my vision.
“A mind once stretched by a new idea never regains it’s original dimensions.”
-Oliver Wendell Holmes