Tess Holliday: Leader 2016

When first given the topic of writing about a leader that I feel has inspired me and others not one person stood out among the rest until just now while I was scrolling through instagram. Throughout this past election and even before that this person, Tess Holliday, has been sharing her opinions and her beliefs about what she stands for. When I think of a leader I automatically think of someone who is able to do what she is doing and reaching people who think the same.

Tess Holliday is a plus size model and a body positive ambassador. I found Tess on instagram over a year ago when I myself was just starting to get to love my body. For me Tess was someone who I could look up to because of all the accomplishments she’s made. Tess was born in Mississippi on July 5, 1985. All throughout her life she has had to overcome many obstacles for example, being bullied. I think that it is amazing to see how far she’s come and what she has accomplished and it is something for young girls to be able to look up to as a role model.

Tess started modeling for a plus size clothing store called Torrid which is actually a company that I work for. I walked into work one day and saw her face on a poster we were hanging up in the window for everyone to see and I was awestruck. Tess Holliday is by no means what some people consider a leader but I do consider her a leader. I think that she’s someone that is paving a way for men and women of all sizes to be able to step up to the plate and promote self love and do it in a way that reaches everyone.

“Never compare yourself to others and celebrate what makes you, you” – Tess Holliday

Being a leader is being a voice for people who don’t have a voice. Tess is the voice for many people that it’s ok to love yourself and that other people cannot be your validation for being accepted into society. It’s ok to be weird, or quirky, or look different than everyone else. As long as you love you, people will accept you.

I want to be someone who encourages people to be themselves and to love themselves. I know what if feels like to not love yourself and it’s a scary and dark place. In the future and also now I want to be able to help people avoid that dark and scary place to see the light.

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Leadership Lecture

During the Connections Conference I was able to hear Erin Smith-Gaken speak. Erin spoke about ‘The Dirty Dozen’ or in other words ethics. I truly enjoyed listening to this and getting another perspective of things I was doing that were ethically incorrect. For example, taking extra things from the cafeteria that were not really allowed to be taken out. I mainly talked about this in my blog from the actual Connections Conference but I am going to go over it again.

Turns out most people are on the same page when it comes to making ethical decisions. It sounds like the best thing to do and we try to make them but there are some that slip under the radar of being ethical. There was an example of accidentally forgetting to pay for a vitamin water that was only $3. Should you go back and pay for it? I personally said no because it was an accident and I didn’t wouldn’t want to go back and pay for it since it was only $3. It’s decisions like these when we are supposed to go back and pay for that drink. It’s morally and ethically correct.

As leaders, we are supposed to be making these ethically correct decisions. People look up to us and if they see us making those wrong decisions they either might question our motive or they are going to decide to make those same decisions and think “if they’re doing it, why can’t I?” But we should want to put out the best example of how to be. We want to put our best foot forward and be prepared to make ethical and right decisions.

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Psychology Reflection

PSY 100 was one of my favorite classes this semester. I got a better grip on how the mind works and how other people think. Throughout the class our professor, Matthew Pruitt, related what he was teaching back to leadership. On top of now being able to see how certain peoples minds work, I now have a better understanding on how to work with people and what their thinking processes are.

Relationships:

In one essay we had to talk about motivation. The scenario was that a store had recently hired a new manager. The employees had been putting forth the “bare minimum” and we had to decipher why they were doing what they were doing and had to then identity the relationship needs,intrinsic rewards, relatedness, and growth needs. This can be related back to an organization. Say the organization as the store with the new manager. One reason the members in the organization are giving the bare minimum would because there is not a relationship established with the new person charge. The is relationship need. The solution to this is for the new head to get to know the people. Talk with them and work at their level until there is a relationship that is built. Leadership is about having relationships with your followers. If there isn’t a healthy relationship, then there isn’t going to be a positive response.

Motivation and Rewards: 

Continuing with the organization with the new leader scenario there has to be some sort of reward for work that is done. There needs to be some recognition for the work that is put out. Maybe it’s just a pat on the back or a “well done” but giving that small recognition  is going to change how they feel. This is called an intrinsic reward and is going to make them feel good about what they’re doing. This reward does not have to be given every time something is done or else it would feel almost robotic and wouldn’t give that person the same satisfaction. But every now and again is going to do that person wonders. It makes them feel valued and motivates them to continue putting out positive outcomes.

Growth:

A possible scenario is that the leader before you left the organization worse then when they found it, which is not what we are supposed to do as leaders. But now the organization has growth needs. Growth needs are for the individuals in the organization. If the leader before hadn’t done their job to the best of their ability and had left some people behind in the process. This means that as the leader we need to go back and help those individuals grow before we can try to expand and have the organization grow.

 

 

These are just a few examples of things that I have learned about leadership while taking Psych. Having taken the class with most of my LAS cohort put into perspective how many different individuals we have and how their minds work and process what is given to them. Hearing them as questions gave me enough insight to help me figure out and think about the best ways to work with them on things. But I can also take this newly learned knowledge to other organizations I’m involved in. With anything there is a certain level of leadership whether it is a job or an organization you are either leading or just following. These scenarios can be applied to most scenarios in your own life.

A Leader’s Legacy

“By asking ourselves how we want to be remembered, we plant the seeds for living our lives as if we matter. By living each day as if we matter, we offer up our own unique legacy. By offering up our own unique legacy, we make the world we inhabit a better place than when we found it”

-A Leader’s Legacy

This book took a more in-depth approach on how Leader’s need to be and conduct themselves to leave behind their personal legacy and the “right way” to do it. The book was split up into four different sections and each having chapters within those sections. The sections are significance, relationships, aspirations, and courage.

1. SIGNIFICANCE:

This section went through what a leader needs to do to be affective. A leader’s main goal should be to serve others rather than serving and focusing on themselves. And a leader must also be wiling to suffer. Next a leaders are supposed to be the best teachers. The best way to learn is from others. A couple of questions you need to be asking yourself are “What am I teaching by the stories I tell?” and “What do I want other’s to teach me?”. But as you are teaching and learning there are going to be critics. A quote that wraps up this chapter is “Pity the leader caught between unloving critics and uncritical lovers.”. It’s hard to find that middle ground between being too loving and too harsh when being critic. But you also need to be mindful when you are the critic so you don’t hurt and discourage others. Having a positive impact on performance is a part of your legacy. The next chapter focused on why we matter and reminding leaders that they can make a difference as long as they get up and do something and not just sit around waiting for it to happen. Next was that we NEED encouragement. Not all the time, but just enough to keep us feeling like what we are doing is in fact a good thing.  

“Keep in mind that going above and beyond what is required is a choice, and people are more likely to give when their efforts are appreciated.” 

2. RELATIONSHIPS

This section focused on the relationships and trust that needs to be built in order to reach the goal. Leadership is personal. Trust is the foundation of any team. Without it the team would fall apart and not be able to reach whatever goal they are going for. Showing vulnerability is a strength to being personal, and being a leader. The next chapter focused on being liked. Leaders should want to be liked. Likability can improves performance. I think Michael Scott from ‘The Office’ sums it up perfectly: “Do I need to be liked? Absolutely not. I like to be liked. I enjoy being liked. I have to be liked. But it’s not like a compulsive need to be liked. Like my need to be praised.”. Of course there are going to be disagreements and no one is always going to see eye to eye but that is when you need to come together and find out where the disagreement started and fix it. You need to be able to learn and grow and get one the obstacles that are in your way. 

3. ASPIRATIONS 

“Leaders must decide on what matters in life, before they can live a life that matters” 

Leaders are supposed to be leading from the inside out. This means you are supposed to become the authors of your own stories and the maker of your own history. My favorite quote from this chapter is “The best leaders turn their followers into leaders, realizing that the journey ahead requires many guides.”. To me personally we need to also focus on the people inside our organization as well as the people outside and focus on them equally. If we are only focused on the people outside the organization we cannot train those inside to become a leader instead of a follower. The chapter says that forward-thinking is a leadership prerequisite. We need to be thinking about the organization in the future and leave it better than when we found it. But we also need to be thinking about what the followers want and not just ourselves. It requires experiencing life as they experience it.” We need to be able to see their hopes and dreams and also their fears and uncertainty. You need to be able to let the leader inside everyone be liberated. Leadership is learned. It is not natural. It’s doesn’t come with a certain personality and anyone can be a leader but we need to make sure to try and set that leader free. A good leader is also a good follower.” We need to know when the right time is to step up and when the right time is to step down. It is important that we do not try to outshine others and overtake the organization and let other people be leaders too. Not one person can do it alone. We need to learn to be humble in certain situations. 

4. COURAGE

Leadership is just courage  in action”

What leaders need to remember is that there is courage in everyone. Courage is a state of mind. It isn’t just an emotional experience, it has a rational component. Everyone has moments of courage and courage isn’t just for heroes. “Moments of courage are moments of truth”. You cannot plan to be courageous, but you can choose to be courageous. There are three different conversations when it comes to courage. The first one is adversities. This means that even in hardships, they can be met with courage. The second conversation is fear. Courage was described as the point where fear meets danger. The third conversation is suffering. There will always be suffering but we need to be courageous to get past the suffering.  

 

At the end of my presentation we showed a video asking people around campus what they wanted their legacy to be. We had some amazing answers and I felt really inspired that we had people around campus with such amazing aspirations.

So my question is, what do you want your legacy to be?

 

 

Debate Reflection

This was an interesting class to say the least. This was a class that was required to take for LAS unless you had something that was equal to it. I was very nervous for this class simply because I had never taken anything like debate in high school or something that was even similar to it and I had nothing to base the class off of. And I had thought that this class was going to just be everyone arguing and that it was going to be out of control and that made me nervous coming into the class. But having half of my cohort in there with me definitely made me feel less nervous because I knew that we were going to be able to respect each other and also take it easy on each other.

We did three debates throughout the semester. The first one was a practice debate which was in the style of a parliamentary debate. My group of five ended up doing the first debate for all three debates every time. But the second debate was the real parliamentary debate and our topic was raising the legal driving age to 18. I was on the government side which meant that I was for raising it. I found that every topic we chose to debate on I ended up on the side that I was on the side I didn’t agree with. This made things harder but it gave me a different perspective on the topic. For our last debate we did a Lincoln-Douglas debate and in this one after the government does their first constructive the opposing side gets to ask them questions and vise versa. Our topic was that the legal drinking age should be lowered to 18 in the U.S. This was a very hard topic to debate since I believe that it should NOT be lowered. This was my personal favorite debate because I liked being asked the questions for whatever reason. I felt that it gave me a chance to discuss more in depth things that I did not have on my research or that I didn’t get a chance to discuss more.

Overall the class was definitely not the worst class I’ve had to take this semester. I feel like I learned a lot from this class and can now use these correct debating techniques in the future for whatever reason I need to. I did find it harder though to remember the actual lecture material. Having debate for and hour and fifteen minutes for a 9:30AM class came with many challenges. There were some classes I had to find something to do to just keep myself awake and I had to study twice as hard for the quizzes and the exams because I wasn’t able to completely comprehend them in class. Of course this wasn’t every class but there were a handful of them. I feel that Dr. Professor Cory Anthony Hillman was a good teacher for our class and that he knew how to deal with the LAS kids because he’s had other cohorts before.

Overall this was a good class to take and I can relate it back to leadership in so many different ways.

Making CONNECTIONS

Going to the Connections Conference was such an amazing experience. I not only learned many useful things to bring back with me, but I also made connections with people that I don’t think would have been made if I hadn’t gone and put myself into the mix. This has been my favorite conference that I’ve gone to, even including my conferences I attended in High School. I got to connect and re-connect with people, as well as listen to great speakers.

We first started off the weekend in our Institute Group. These were random assigned groups. We got to talk in smaller groups about what we think makes up a leader and what resources on campus we had. It was amazing to see all of the different groups and their resources. I really liked how they rarely split us up into groups based on what group we were representing. I got to talk to other people outside of LAS or people I had met through the Leadership Institute. We got to end our weekend meeting with our Institute Group and this time we focused more on things we liked about our groups, things that needed to improve, and things that needed to change. I noticed that many other people put that they wanted their group to be more inclusive and that they also wanted the trash talking of other people to end. It was good to see that other groups faced similar troubles. But it was nice to rejoice that most people put that they wanted their friendships to continue, and positive attitudes, and inclusivity to continue. The positive always outweighs the negative and it was nice to see that other groups were similar in those ways as well. I really appreciate how the Institute Groups brought many groups together that were involved in different types of organizations and that we got to see how different we were and that we also got to see how alike we were. I think it’s very important to keep the fact that different people can come together and make something amazing the front of whatever we do as leaders. That’s what being a leader is to me.

The first speaker I listened to was Erin Smith-Gaken. Her workshop was called the Dirty Dozen. It was mainly based on making ethical decisions. She gave us different scenarios and we got to anonymously answer them with a clicker. For example, one of the scenarios was talking about taking extra food out of the cafeteria and most of chose that we would or would have done it before even though the rule is that you are only allowed to take either an ice cream cone or a piece of fruit out of the cafeteria. The majority of the reasoning for taking the extra and “un-allowed” food out is because we’re paying for it in our food plan. It made me really think about the decisions I make as a leader and how they need to be ethical and moral while I’m in that position. It was really interesting to see that I wasn’t the only one making the more unethical decisions. Every time I went to go press the clicker I was almost afraid to see that I was the only one making the worser of the decisions, but it was nice to see that it wasn’t just me.

My next session was with Jamie Brown and it was called Taking Care of Your Leadership Garden. This workshop was about how when you take care of people you need to nurture and help them grow as well as create a plan of action. Although I feel I didn’t get as much out of this session as I did the in my other sessions, it was still a nice refresher that I can’t only be focused on my growth but I need to focus on the others around me.

My third session was with Jill Balliet, Emily Seward, and Madeline Klozik. This session was called Rooted in Growth: Mentoring Peers in Your Community. I thought it was a good idea to go to this session because coming up in May I will be becoming a mentor and will be helping my mentee get through their first year at CMU. Even though I’ve had a wonderful mentor and know the way to be I want to mentor and the relationship I want with my mentee, I figured that going to a workshop wouldn’t hurt anything. I actually learned other techniques on how to properly mentor and how to handle situations and questions the right way to actually help them. We got into groups and were given situations and got to switch up who was the mentee, bad mentor, and good mentor. It was really nice to be in each perspective and how it felt to give the bad advice and how it felt to receive the bad advice. This session was more relatable to me because I’m nervous that to become a mentor and have someone rely on me for actual advice.

My last and final session was with Tim Popma and Steely Pegg and the session was Leadership through the Eyes of Disney. I thoroughly enjoyed this session because I got to relate how I lead back to my favorite disney characters. I felt that my leadership style closely fits with Peter Pan. This is because I keep my imagination open and am still able to lead people. Although I go off on different paths sometimes, I still am able to come back to where I need to be and reach the goal. I loved being able to just have fun with Disney but still learn about leadership. Growing up only being allowed to watch Disney movies this was a great way to bring some of my childhood to my adulthood.

I’m very happy that I got to attend this conference. This was my first time ever going to Great Wolf Lodge and I’m happy I got to make new friends while I was there. Good enough friends that I’m taking them home with me to take them to Frankenmuth since I live so close. I actually made CONNECTIONS at the CONNECTIONS conference. Who would have thought?

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SPARK Leadership

On September 16th, a Friday, I attended the Spark Leadership conference that is hosted by the Leadership Institute. Being someone who has been involved in Leadership since I was a freshman in High School I have been to MANY leadership conferences. But this conference, in my opinion, has been one of the best leadership conferences I have been to. Throughout the day we got to discuss leadership styles, how the different leadership styles work together, how they rely on each other, and how we can take our newfound styles back to our groups and improve the group. I appreciate how leadership styles and working together was focused heavily at this conference. Personally I had always questioned what my style was and how I could use it in my groups I’m involved in and how I can improve what I do and how I am as well.

I feel like the conference was meant to focus on creating inclusive leaders. The two activities that my group did focused on using each part of the team to get to the common goal. Nobody was able to work by themselves because if they did then the goal would not have been reached. One of the activities was working to get an “eagle egg” from one point to the next without it falling or any of us touching it or getting to close. sparkThe egg was balanced on top of something that had strings attached to it and that’s how we had to balance it. But it wasn’t just a straight path. We had to travel over “fallen trees” and other obstacles that were meant to represent the obstacles we face when leading a group of people. This was my favorite activity of the day. It was fun and got the whole group thinking and talking to each other about what they thought would work and then that would start group discussions on why they felt that it would work. It set up a good way to how group discussions are supposed to go. Sometimes it’s hard in groups no matter the size to get your ideas in but this made it possible to get into the practice of making sure our ideas our heard in group settings.

Overall this conference was about building stronger leaders on campus. One thing I really like about the Leadership Institute is that they don’t close off their conferences to just LAS recipients but they involve students around campus so we can learn together and become leaders for all organizations across campus to make our campus an even better campus.

My First Two Months at CMU

August 20th, 2016 – This was a crazy day. I had so many different emotions on my way to campus bright and early that Saturday morning. I was driving my sisters car alone while my parents were about 45 minutes behind me. I was excited and nervous all at the same time. Excited because I was moving to a campus I fell in love with the second I step foot on it and also because I was moving out of my house and going to start my adult life. I was also nervous because I was moving to a place that I didn’t know very well. I hadn’t made that many friends that I felt I could trust. At that point in my life I considered myself and ‘outgoing introvert’, but in all honesty, I was an introvert and was too scared to actually try and make friends. I remember that day I was holding back multiple panic attacks and was so completely overwhelmed that I knew if I talked to anyone I wouldn’t be able to hold back my emotions and I would make a complete fool of myself. The only person at this point I actually knew and felt cared to get to know me was my mentor, Garrett. I was not truly happy at this point in my life. I was still upset and petty over relationships that ended in the summer and what had led up to them ending in the prior school year. I was scared to let new people get close to me because I was scared to trust anyone after what I had gone through. It was hard to let people into a world where I was in a constant state of anxiety and felt like I had no control. I just wanted to get through the first two weeks and go home to see my family and my best friend.

October 20, 2016 – It has been a crazy two months. It feels like I haven’t been here for two months, A.K.A 8 WEEKS, it feels like I’ve been here for just a couple weeks. These weeks have been full of stress, full of tears from missing my best friend and missing my family and dogs. But I can honestly say that I haven’t had a panic attack in one month and it is the first month since March that I haven’t had one, and it feels awesome. I have made many friends, a few being my lifelong friends, and those acquaintances who will like the pictures of my children I put on Facebook in the future. I was always told that I would find those people in the first couple months of being here but I didn’t think I would. I thought that some of the friends I made in high school were lifelong friends, but life happens and it’s taken time to forgive, but I am moving on and enjoying life.

When I was in high school, I always thought that I wouldn’t be very outgoing in college because there are so many different people and I would get walked over but that is not the case. I now consider myself an extrovert and it’s the first time I have ever considered myself as outgoing. Recently I have been described as having a “loud personality”. That was new, but exciting.

I can’t say I haven’t missed being at home. And I can’t say I haven’t thought for a full day of dropping out and moving to California, but then was talked out of it by some good friends, so thank you. These past two months haven’t been perfect, but they have been amazing and I can’t wait to see where these next four years take me.

I feel blessed to know that the people who I have surrounded myself with are going to push me to be the best leader I can be and I know that they will help me succeed in my life.

Fire Up Chips!

Mentor/Mentee Retreat

If I was told to choose one word to describe the mentor/mentee retreat I wouldn’t be able to. The different emotions that I felt during that weekend were too many to count. I did a lot of things that I normally wouldn’t have done, I got to spend some time with my mentor, Garrett, and I got to be with my cohort all at one time, which was honestly the first time we had all been together.

To be completely honest, I was not looking forward to this retreat at first. Garrett had made the mistake of telling me about the high ropes course and being someone who has a phobia of heights this was not good. I couldn’t mentally prepare myself this, even though I had known about it for months, but I just couldn’t wrap my head around it. And to add on my anxiety was through the roof during the whole retreat, but I held it back and didn’t let it out until I had gotten home on Sunday. But when it came to actually doing the course I had gained enough strength mentally to at least try it. So as I was putting on the gear and I was psyching myself up for this course. Garrett had suggested we climb up the ladder that is wooden and just goes straight up and down and I agreed because that seemed like the best option. So he went up first, like a pro, and then it was my turn and I started climbing. I was good until about half way up until I realized exactly how far up I was. So I managed to make it to the top of the ladder which for me was such a big milestone seeing as I wasn’t even going to try. So I think that was the biggest accomplishment from the retreat for me.

But bringing it back I got to be with all of my cohort for two whole days! Seeing that this was the first time we were all together it was amazing. I definitely feel closer and more comfortable with my cohort which is a really good feeling. I’m not always one to talk in group chat or go and just start conversations with people because I just assume people don’t want to talk to me, but that’s just something stems from my anxiety and I’m getting over that. I feel bonded with my cohort and I just feel so blessed to be in such an accepting group of people.

I can’t wait until next year when I get to have that experience with my mentee. I know I have a little bit before I have to think about that, but it will probably come a lot sooner than it seems.

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