I want to start this blog post with a bit of an activity. While you read each statement below, I want you to think about this past week, and I want you to ask yourself the following question: At this moment, was I being the person I want to be?
- While you were eating dinner on Thursday.
- While you were doing schoolwork.
- While you were doing work outside of schoolwork.
- When you held a conversation with someone you know.
- When you had a conversation with someone you just met.
- During a moment where you were by yourself.
- 30 minutes ago.
As I read back through these statements, I found myself thinking, “I don’t even know if I had dinner Thursday” and “Have I even met someone new this week.” Sometimes, actually a lot of times, it’s hard to think about what life threw at you in a week. It’s easy to let a week slip by, and it feel like you didn’t accomplish anything. It’s even easier to fall into the mindset that you weren’t yourself at all for a full week.
Throughout this week, I focused on what it meant to be a leader. I read about ideologies and “favorable” approaches that set leaders up for success in my class. I spoke about what it meant to be a leader and how it is different with every situation you are presented in my work. Then, I began to think about what it meant to be a leader for yourself.
Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom is a book that I consider not to have necessarily changed my life, but absolutely the way I think about life. In the early chapters of the book, Mitch speaks about Morrie being able to “dance on his own,” and it is a concept I think about quite often. Being able to dance on your own is the beginning of what can make you a great leader. I often think we get caught up in the idea of “what do others need from me” instead of thinking about what you need from yourself. At the root of being a successful leader lies the ability to understand who you are and what you are good at. In return, this allows you to process where you can grow but also where you can help others succeed at the same time. Dance on your own, but welcome others to dance to the same tune.
As you read through the seven statements above, you might have found yourself thinking, “who cares how I felt in these little moments.” If so, you’re not alone. These little moments, however, are the ones that spread and grow within our minds. One conversation of not being who you want to be might not be a big deal, but how many of these “one conversations” are you having that will continue to add up, continue to manifest without you even noticing. Weeks can quickly add up where you aren’t yourself. Morrie’s story about dancing on his own always sticks with me because it was him being who he wanted to be. He wasn’t concerned about being a specific type of leader for anyone; he was being who he wanted to be, a leader for himself.
What I learned this week revolved a lot around myself, but also around what I hope others are doing for themselves. Being yourself isn’t easy, and being someone you hope others will see as a leader can almost be an impossible task. But maybe, it’s not about what others see. I’ve always thought that if I were going to be a leader, I would have to check in on everyone and make sure they were getting through the tough times. Most of the time, it’s easy to ask yourself, “am I checking in on the people who might need it?” However, I learned this week that it is incredibly difficult to follow that with “Could I be one of those people who needs to be checked on?” This week I challenge us all to stop and ask: Am I being the person I want to be? If not, let’s think about how we can check in on ourselves, one step at a time.
I would love to hear how you check in on yourself from time to time; feel free to leave comments below!
-Colin Lane Croat