What is a Mentor?

When I think of what a mentor is I think of a friend but also a confidant and someone to rely on in times of need.

As I am going into my sophomore year of college at CMU I am required, as part of my protocol for LAS, to be a mentor to an incoming freshmen, or in my case two incoming freshmen. My cohort was given a presentation on how to basically be the best mentor we could be. We were able to split into groups and talk about things we had experienced on campus and wish we had known that we didn’t know to ask our mentors. This presentation was beneficial and got me into to the right mindset going into the following week when we were able to choose mentees which was such an amazing and exciting process.

Next fall I get to welcome Natalie and Kate into my LAS family. For them I want to do something my mentor, Garrett, was able to give me which was a friendship first and then we were able to talk and look to each other for questions and help. I am so very thankful to have had Garrett as a my mentor, he’s had such a huge and amazing impact in my life that I hope to be able to provide for my mentees. I want to be able to be their friend but also someone that Natalie and Kate are able to rely on and go to with their questions or if they are having a bad day and just need a quiet place to go and talk or hang out I want to be able to offer my apartment just around the corner from Barnes for them to be that place for them to go.

My ultimate goal is to be a mentor to my girls that they need as two individuals. From what I’ve learned about them in a short time I know I am going to be absolutely blown away by what they are going to accomplish and do during their time at CMU and I am so excited and honored to be a part of that journey for them. I absolutely know I am going to learn from them just like they are going to learn for me.

Congratulations Natalie and Kate! Hurry up and get to CMU, you both have a lot of people waiting for your arrival!

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LDR 200 Reflection

This was the second leadership class taken with my cohort as part of protocol and this class was basically like LDR 100 2.0. This class took a more in depth look into leadership and took more interest in the philosophical, theoretical, and the foundations of leadership. We learned about the different theories of leadership and how they came to be. In this class we found our “why” statements, which are basically the motivation why we do the things we do. We had to think about our passions and how we could turn them in to purpose.

Our first assignment was a more in depth look facilitating. We went through a presentation about the “do’s and don’ts” while being a facilitator. There was more things about facilitating that I knew there were. One thing that stood out to me was not to ask close-ended or “yes or no” question while debriefing the activity. This leads to little discussion when while debriefing we are supposed to have a conversation about why we have done the activity and things we can take from the activity. The class was split into groups and took turns facilitating activities over a few weeks. My group decided to make a “Web of Goals”. We gave everyone a notecard and pencil and had them write their goal on that card, no matter how big or small, and then we started with one person and gave them a ball of yarn and had them state their goal and then keep passing it around the group until everyone had gone. By the end of this activity we had a visual representation of everyone being on this web with some shared goals and some different goals. My groups main goals was to help create a visual that there are other people who share similar goals and that we are all trying to reach them. There were some of our classmates who were not even aware that other people wanted the same things that they wanted and now they knew who to go to when if they ever lost motivation and needed some encouragement.

The next part of the semester was based all around leadership philosophy. We were able to write a paper about what the philosophy behind leadership was to us. This paper personally put many things into perspective for me. This paper was a step into the group presentations we would be starting.

Our next assignment was to do workshops. Each group was given a chapter in our textbook and told to make a workshop from that chapter. We were to come up with an activity and give a presentation about this chapter to present to our cohort. My group was giving Path-Goal Theory. We started out by playing a game called Mafia and they group had to work together to come to the ultimate goal and find out who the “mafia” was. Then we started our presentation to explain why the game related to our presentation. I actually really enjoyed having this assignment. We were able to work on our personal presenting skills, getting experience from making the workshops, and hear our classmates present on other topics instead of having one professor do all of this. This was just more leadership training in a class but also gave us more knowledge and history on leadership. It was a hands on experience that most classes don’t have.

HST 110L Reflection

Taking this history class was part of protocol for my leadership scholarship and I was very confused what this class had to teach us how to be better leaders. I soon found out that this class was meant to inform us about racial stereotypes throughout history and how it has shaped the world today. I had always thought I knew so much about history but this was a topic that was never touched in a history class I had ever had before, and I can see why. This class started out with talking about the famine in Ireland in 1800s and everything that had resulted in a large portion of the population in Ireland immigrating to the United States during that entire century and how people who were not American were never given the same respect and opportunities that Americans were given.

In our textbook there were different essays and some cases that were brought to court that we went into depth and studied. We would go into groups and study it for part of the class time and then present it to the class. Since this was a three hour class we were able to split up the different sections to different groups and get through a whole chapter a class. Then our professor would ask the groups questions about what they read and then would go further into explanation about something that either wasn’t in the book or something that we had missed and always relate it back to leadership training. It was very interesting to see how even hundreds years ago being a leader helped shape the world to what it is today. I understand now why this class was a part of our protocol and I know I have a better understanding on what I was supposed to take from this class. For me, personally, it was even more of a validation that anyone can be a leader. They do not have to follow some sort of stereotype, for example, how they look or how they are as an individual.

Path-Goal Theory of Leadership

Path-Goal Theory focuses on motivation of the followers that give the best outcome to the task at hand. This theory focuses on the leader giving motivation to the followers so that the followers feel good and get the job done. This particular theory defines goals, clarifies paths, removes obstacles, and provides support. These four characteristics work together to make the job easier on the followers. It also puts more pressure on the leader because it doesn’t give the leader the opportunity to put more responsibility on the followers. What I got from this theory is that it is supposed to make life easier on the followers, it’s not a very equal relationship between the leader and the followers.

This semester my leadership class was split into groups and each given a different leadership theory to present to the class. My group was given path-goal theory and while prepping, and even presenting the theory I realized that the way I lead is similar to this leadership theory. Path-goal theory has four key leadership behaviors. The first behavior is a directive behavior. This particular behavior is when the leader clarifies the path by giving the followers a clear road to success. The next behavior is supportive which is when the leaders really support their followers, even mentally, and create a very friendly and welcoming environment. The third behavior is participated which is when the leader encourages the followers to participate in the decision making process and also gives the followers increased involvements in the organization. The final behavior is  achievement oriented which is basically just restating that the fact that with this theory the goal is always kept in mind through what ever behaviors are being displayed.

An activity we did to better demonstrate this theory in real life was by playing the game mafia. The main idea of mafia is to figure out who the “mafia” in the group is. The town is made up of police, doctors, and townspeople. The job of the townspeople is to find the mafia before everyone is “killed”. We chose to play this game because it displays the path-goal theory very well. The townspeople, or followers, are needed to step up and participate to find the mafia much like how the followers are encouraged to step up and participate in the organization.

This theory is relatable to most organizations. Leaders generally want to make sure that their followers have what they need to finish the project successfully. Sometimes this theory gives too much responsibility to the leader. This can happen when the leader will just do the task basically without the help of their followers because the followers may not know what they are supposed to do and the leader just wants it done right, or the leader wants to take care of their followers.

After realizing that this theory does relate back to how I personally lead I can now take what I’ve learned and improve how I lead. There can be times where I decided to take on most of the work load but I know that I need to delegate and explain how things are meant to be done now.

LAS in the “D” Reflection

On Friday, February 10th, myself and my cohort for Leadership Advancement Scholarship were given the opportunity to spend a mere 36 hours in the city of Detroit, MI. We were able to see the city as well as give time to volunteer in the city for non-profit organizations.

Starting on Friday we facilitated activities at the Jalen Rose Leadership Academy (JRLA).

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At Jalen Rose

JRLA is a charter school in metro-Detroit that was started in September 2011 and now serves over 400 students 9th-12th grades. This is a school that puts leadership in the center of everything they do, and that was very clear in how they ran things and how the students behaved while we were there. After leaving we were taken to the Quicken Loans building. Here we were given dinner and were able to listen to Buddy Henika who is very high up on the Quicken Loans pyramid, but in the middle of his presentation John Fikany took control of the presentation because of how passionate he is

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Outside of Quicken Loans Building

about Quicken Loans and how he was ready to give us summer internships and it was honestly amazing to see that he believed in us enough to basically offering us a really nice step into the Quicken Loans company. We got to learn a lot about the company and how involved they are in the well being of Detroit and how they want to proved jobs to people. You could really tell they especially like CMU students, they were happy to have us there and we were all very happy to be there. After going to Quicken we were able to go to the Detroit Institute of Art (DIA).

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Candid picture of Markus at the DIA

I wasn’t really ever sure why exactly we were going there until a week after when I was told the history behind the DIA. I throughly enjoyed my time there. The art was amazing and the history now makes me appreciate my time spent there. Next we went to the DNR Outdoor Adventure Center where we spent the night and also got to learn about how it had basically risen from the ground and had nothing but is now something that people travel from out of state to come to.

The next morning we were off to CASS Community Social Services to serve. We were split into groups, my group being the kitchen. In the building where the kitchen there is also a shelter there, which is why they need a kitchen. In the shelter there are three different floors, the first floor is for mothers and children, the second is for veterans, many suffering from PTSD, and the third for men. The kitchen provides three meals a day everyday of the year and week and they serve at least a 1,000 meals a day. One of my tasks was to shred potatoes because they were going to be used to make hash browns for a special breakfast where the veterans in the shelter could come and special order a meal like they were at a diner. This is something that stuck with me the  rest of the day. I have never truly been in Detroit and have only really ever seen the downtown area which is where all the work and re-building is being done. This was the in the outskirts and was in poverty. CASS is a non-profit that is focused on taking care of their people. Providing jobs, food, and shelter. This is so important to have in that area because of the poverty that has struck the people there.

So now, I would like to go back to JRLA and get to know more about it. I learned so much from this part of the trip that I will always have with me. I thought going there that we would be the ‘teachers’ but I learned more from them than I anticipated. Going to Quicken gave me a place where I want to definitely apply for a internship. I can see myself there and I fell in love Detroit from this trip. But CASS gave me the most from this trip. I am not sure if I would go and volunteer there but it makes me want to volunteer more and help those who are trying to help a community. I live near Flint and I understand what is going on there and I want to go and find volunteer opportunities there because I know Flint and I have seen the city deteriorate throughout the years and I know that the city needs some love and if I am able I should be giving it the love it needs.

Now I know I need to do in regards on how to better lead people. I need to be mindful of others comfort levels and to also make sure that I am not automatically trying to take over the situation. I also need to keep an open mind to new learning experiences. Everything is a learning experience that needs to be learned. But now that I have the humbleness in mind I really feel as if I need to volunteer more. I realize how much volunteers are actually needed. I need to volunteer more especially since I am so close to a community in need. Between JRLA and CASS I realize that I needed a reality check and to be thankful for what I have and the life I have and that I also need to share my fortune and bless others the way I have been blessed.

LAS in the “D”

This Friday, February 10th, 2017 I will be going on a service trip in with my LAS cohort. I have heard so many good things about this trip and I am excited for what I will be gaining from this trip. I hope to gain a closer relationship with my cohort and to also have a humbling experience from what I will be seeing and doing in Detroit. I am aware of the poverty that has struck Detroit and the racism that is still present. I know of these things from what I’ve seen in the news and things I’ve heard and seen most of my life.

“Leadership Institute has worked to prepare the next generation of leaders who will act responsibly to improve the quality of life, state of the economy, and communities in which they live.” 

This trip to Detroit is going to give us more of an understanding of something that most of us have never experienced and I believe that this trip will give us the knowledge we need to continue our leadership in our future wherever we all end up. We are going to carry what we learn on this trip with us for the rest of our lives. I cannot wait to see what I will be able to take away from this trip.

(This is actually my favorite mural in Detroit)

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Ted Talk | Simon Sinek

“People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.”

I recently watched a TedTalk video featuring Simon Sinek. This video was titled “How great leaders inspire action”. In the beginning of the talk he introduced The Golden Circle which he referred to throughout the rest of the talk. The Golden Circle is a diagram that has three levels of thinking: what, how, and why. The “what” is “What do thgoldencircleey do”, the “how” is how they do it, and the “why” is why they do it, To put this in perspective various companies were mentioned but more so The Apple Company. Apple is one of the very few companies that utilizes the “why” and tells consumers why they make what they make and the reason is because they believe in challenging the status quo. Another company could come up with an idea and be able to tell you what it does, and how they made it but if they don’t tell you why they made it, you are not going to be as inclined to buy the product. You don’t feel motivated to buy it.

“If you talk about what you believe you will attract people who believe what you believe”

Why is this important? It’s important to have people supporting you who have similar beliefs because if you do not then that task you are setting out to do will not succeed. Sinek brought up the Wright Brothers for this example. The Wright Brothers were famous for flying the first airplane after continually failing and then improving from that failure. Because they had people working for them who wanted to be there in helping them create their dream into a reality they were successful. One person most people have never heard of, including myself, was Samuel Pierpont Langely. Langely was also in the race to fly the first airplane. He hired the brightest of minds and worked hard. The difference between the Wrights and Langely is that the Wrights had a “why” and Langely did not. The Wrights had people helping them who were there to support them and their beliefs and dreams when the people working for Langely did not. The workers for Langley were there for the paycheck, that was their purpose.

“We follow those who lead not because we have to, but because we want to.”

It is our job as leaders to have a “why” statement. If we don’t have one how do we really know that we are leading those with similar beliefs. People choose to follow us. It’s not “I have a plan”, it’s “I have a dream”. I know that after watching this TED talk that I want to be a leader that leads with a “why” rather than not having one at all. I know that I need to start thinking about why I am doing things and not do them because they need to be done. I need to have purpose and passion.

My Why Statement: “Inspire others to find their passion and love loudly”

What is your why statement?

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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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?

 

 

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