My son went to a Leadership retreat with a select group of college freshman from his university this past August. I was just looking over a presentation that the university prepared from a collection of photographs and a selection of comments from the participants. Many of them said that they learned that being a leader doesn’t always mean being the person in charge. It sometimes simply means listening to others, supporting others, and valuing others.
I was also impressed by the passage that my son wrote:
“The biggest challenge for me was change. I learned to accept and view others for who they are, not what your first impression suggests. I also learned that I did not have to pretend to be somebody else to fit in or be accepted, it is important to be yourself. I was able to come out of my comfort zone by letting my ‘walls’ down, and letting others in.”
What a difficult and valuable lesson to learn!
Many people live their whole lives without realizing that the best person they can be is themselves. We are so determined to fit in, or so in fear of not fitting in, that we develop “personas” that we think will be better accepted by others, rather than simply being our true selves. Sometimes, the thought of interacting with others become so overwhelming that we prefer to stay by ourselves and close off the rest of the world. We become afraid to voice our own opinions for fear of rejection.
I can’t help but think about the news of late and how we look at the leaders in our world today. When they stand up for what they believe in, they become a target of “hate” for all those who disagree with them. Our society has this “us vs. them” mentality that destroys and tears apart attempts at constructive leadership. We judge without having all of the information. Instead, we go along with whatever crowd seems to have the loudest voice or else we cower in our own anonymity.
http://www.theresadodaro.com Author of The Tin Box Trilogy