Waking with the savory taste of the guidance from guest panelists such as Dr. Tisa Mason, the Vice President of Student Affairs at Fort Hays State University, still fresh on my mind, I hungered for the leadership lessons AFLV-LeaderShape had to offer me today. When I saw that The Art of Possibility and Star Power were some of the topics on today’s LeaderShape menu, my first reaction was a skeptic doubt that today would involve more than a cheesy leadership infomercial. However, I thought to myself “Trust the process (TTP) Cameron. You’ve made it this far.” Soon after this self encouragement I discovered some of my new favorite quotes while watching a movie titled Radiating Possibility, a series of recorded orations where philharmonic composer Benjamin Zander compels his audience to be “fascinated” with their mistakes. I took this, not as an excuse to dwell unhealthily on the stumbles taken on my leadership adventure, but I will forever be fascinated with learning from my mistakes rather than withdrawing from them. I had to realize that Zander was not asking me to obsess over my short comings; that would never allow me to grow. I should view mistakes as a note card, constantly in my mind for me to revisit should I need to be reminded of what works and what doesn’t.
Reflecting on my breakfast of understanding possibility, I had came to realize that if it is truly an art, it would take great practice and intense culmination to get it as close to perfect as possible. It would take some time to sit in the “front row” of my life, quiet any negative “inner voice,” and to fascinate myself with learning from mistakes. My practice, in true Leadershape form, would come later that night in unconventional ways. Now, however, was the time to go to a luncheon; earthquake and chicken salad were the main dishes on the menu. Our new activity brought our family clusters together in an attempt to get out of a fictional earthquake with a set of rules, travesties, circumstances, and a foursome of unexpectedly spoiled chicken salad sandwiches. We learned at end of this exercise that I all situations, especially when on the cusp of survival, attention to detail and effective collaboration behaviors were essential to coming out of uncomfortable circumstances. Like the earthquake, circumstance will come to my chapter and I unannounced and, at times, out of our own control. It is up to us from that point, to utilize both the knowledge and experience from our own lives and lead with appropriate behaviors and detail. After this exercise, I explained how my father always told me that instead of “trying” to do something, say getting yourself out of a disaster, it only gets done if you “just do it.” Though it may at first sound hard, I realized by speaking with other Leadershape classmates how they achieved success in the activity and that, ultimately, it is possible.
There was that word again: possibility. By this point I still only knew one side of the word and it was the side that wasn’t too hard a lesson to digest. But, what about the other side? For dessert, we had a lesson that started out with sugary sweet good intentions and ended with a bitter after taste of what exactly Power & Influence can bring out of leaders. You see, Benjamin Zander never excluded the possibility of failure; he simply recommended we pay it little attention. What we needed to pay attention to were the behaviors that could cause failure. We, as Greek brothers and sisters, should be the first to admit that failure is possible, but also know that, we can not half-ass intentions. In this simulation of power struggle, whether that power represented influence, money, or responsibility, I, along with most of my fellow classmates, failed to uphold the values that made our intentions strong. I instead upheld the desire to be successful over my values, which was the exact opposite of what I should do, because I perceived it as “just a game.” One of my favorite Drake songs advises that life isn’t “a rehearsal; the camera’s always rolling.” This means that regardless, of whether I thought this to be a harmless game, it was that practice, in true Leadershape form, that came in an unconventional manner. I will say, however, that we succeeded in an effort to educate ourselves on the dangers of getting a sugar rush from the power that we sometimes don’t deserve. Think of all the sour looks bystanders wouldn’t send our way if Greek life upheld their values at ALL times. We have to realize that it’s not “just a game” we are not “just in a fraternity” our values are not “just a few words” and “if you think they are,” as my facilitator, Cara Jenkins says, “it is just an excuse.” It was from that point on that I vowed to no longer use my fraternity and values as an excuse to rise to the top, as a tool to get what I desired, but as a gift that allows me to Love and Respect my Greek community, as well each and every other community I belong to. Moreover, I promised not to dwell on this mistake, but to use it as a recipe note card, constantly reminding me of the right and wrong steps to take in my leadership adventure. Doing this would allow me to rise from this travesty and rise to another occasion with true leadership.
Alpha Tau Omega
Middle Tennessee State University