January 28, 2011 by Amanda Zahn
I will admit that I have not been looking forward to this section. It is not dread or worry or the unknown that makes me not excited for it; it is the complete lackluster category itself. Maybe part of that is because I knew from the second I read each section in the guidelines that the third section, and my previous post, would be the one that meant the most to me. If you refer to my first post, however, the lack of motivation for this blog stems from my trouble, struggles, unwillingness, or inability to plan the future.
I just do not like it. I want to say I suck at it, but I know I plan very well when I put my mind to it.
I cannot help but feel like this blog is the afterbirth of my project. There is great relief — or so I am told — in the final push that yields a baby, and then there is the sudden letdown of not really being done with the whole process.
Thanks, Heather, for the lovely visual you give me every time you squeeze out another kid.
Every situation in life is an opportunity. I have said those words to many people, often immediately following some woe-is-me phrase they have uttered. The thing about offering that lesson to others is that I have to believe it for myself. I do believe it with all of my heart. I have lived and experienced situations that bind those words in stone.
“Every situation in life is an opportunity.”
Be it a good situation, or a bad one, there is something to learn from it, something to take away. The lesson may not always be apparent or clear, but the ability to take that lesson to heart is an ability each person needs to develop. Like all skills, it needs to be honed and practiced regularly. I have the upper hand in this. I am more prepared than my peers because I embraced the idea of “opportunity” when I was very young. Contrary to what others might think, being labeled an opportunist is not a bad thing.
It has given me the means, via an open mind and a lack of planning, to take every chance I get and make it the best I can.
I seem to have lost my point somewhere in there, but I do remember that the end product was understanding that my skills as a leader were constantly growing and evolving to whatever need there might be at the time.
The guideline mentions the people with which we might want to work. It is a silly sentiment, but I want to work with everyone. I know we do not always have to like the boss, the subordinate, the creepy guy that talks to himself, or the chick by the ice machine who picks her nose. We do, however, need to remember that each person who crosses our path is a shaper of our future. This is true even if it something simple, like swearing to stop talking to yourself in public. That choice, based on the experience with the creepy guy, has affected you and given you a tool for the future.
If I were to choose qualities to shape my peers or subordinates, I would consider motivation to be very high on the list. They would need to be punctual, dedicated, open-minded, trustworthy, and creative. Another interesting need I have is a willingness to fight with me. That sounds odd, I know, but it is true. As both, peer and supervisor, I need to not be something to be feared. They can not hold back because they fear my judgement or my wrath. Some of the greatest ideas have come from some form of argument and I would be wrong to stifle those ideas by my existence alone. They need to want to argue their ideas with me, and I need to keep empathy in mind so I can understand why their point of view is important enough to argue.
My inner circle, however, is much more defined. While I may be willing to accept any person into my work environment, the people I keep closest to me are not only the shapers of my destiny, they are the people who I trust the most. They do not have to be as strong as me, as experienced as me, or as fluid in their willingness to adapt to situations. They do, however, need to be generally good and moral people. They will keep constantly in mind that every choice they make affects more than themselves and sometimes they have to dig deep to make the hard decisions.
I seem to keep getting sidetracked. I know it is because I am not enjoying this section as much as the others. Let me try approaching a different guideline question.
This class has been an enjoyable experience overall. There are things here and there that I would have changed, but none of those things fall into the category of the lessons, the syllabus, or the instructor. The course has not shaped me as a leader as much as it might have shaped some of my classmates. I went into the class with a different perspective than most of them might have. I have been in leadership positions, I have lived as a follower, and I have made choices that affected the lives of more people than just myself.
Does this make me better than them? Not a chance in hell, no, it does not. What it does do, however, is allow me to take the reading and the exercises and apply them either to experiences I have had or place the lessons in the toolbox for later should I find myself needing them. I have a strong grasp of the laws in the book and I can identify them within myself. I have not read a single chapter in the book that I could not find a sliver of the lesson inside me. I could relate to each story, to each law, and to each quote.
I seem to not be able to relate any of these lessons to any situations other than the ones I experienced while I was in the Army. This does not surprise me, as it was such a large part of my life and my development as an adult, but it means that my views are limited to an extremely structured environment that rewards the people who follow directions. Leaders are rewarded too, do not mistake what I say about being a follower. The rewards for being a leader, however, are more responsibilities and more leadership training.
So it seems the Army rewards people who do what they do naturally. This revelation sits very well with me.
My goal for the future is the experience more leadership lessons outside of the Army. I crave a story that I will be able to tell that does not begin with “When I was in the Army…” and I look forward to being able to draw it with words. I am more than my service in the Army, but I will never let go of the lessons I learned or the life I lived. My service defined me, but it will not limit me.
As I try to find a way to wind this specific blog down, I smile a little inside. I’ve written more words in these last four blogs than some students will write over the course of their college degrees. In a world where instructors tell us to write four hundred words for this or at least six hundred words for that, I have never struggled to have something to say. My ability to talk, most times with intelligence, is something I have been able to use since I was a child. The cheeky teachers who tried to punish me by assigning an essay were often disappointed in the lack of effect it had on me or the lesson they were trying to teach.
As I close down this assignment, and bring us back to my regularly scheduled ramblings, complaints, and words of support, I would like to leave with a message of motivation. Maybe it is something I learned from the book, or maybe it is something a leader of my past told me, but the point is that it is something that helps keep me open to the hearts and minds of the people around me every day.
We are the people we are constantly surrounded by. Their shortcomings, their faults, their insecurities are all our own. We can see in them everything we wish to be, and wish not to be. We can define these unsavory qualities often because we can see them in ourselves. We can define these sought-after qualities because we wish we embodied them more than we do. Our growth never ends; our characteristics are never set in stone. To break a cycle of negativity, in our surroundings and in ourselves, we need to be the people we wish to be surrounded by.
Who are you going to be?
Cake. Aside from another recipe analogy, or comparing goals and the future to shopping for the ingredients, I struggle to place cake in this post at all. Maybe I will say that the variety of cake is the comparison. I have experienced and mastered the art of chocolate cake. Now it is time for something different, something bigger.
Red velvet cake.