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.

“YES!” to Leadership

Does a leader come from a “yes” or a “no”? 

I was recently asked this question from a professor in a leadership course. After reading the question and thinking about it for a while I have finally come up with an answer. Yes. A leader comes from a “yes”.

Leaders are not born, they are made. When a leader is chosen they have to say “yes”. Although saying “yes” to everything is very scary, it shows courage to be able to say that small three-letter word because that word means so much. It allows you to be open to new experiences and opportunities. But you have to remember that you wouldn’t be a leader ifyes-we-can you hadn’t said “yes” to that calling. If your followers come to you with an idea and were given “no” as an answer they are going to find another leader that tells them “yes” and you’ve lost your followers. You have to have faith and courage to be able to say “yes” and try to make your followers ideas a reality and when that idea becomes a reality for them they are going to be reminded of why you were chosen for the leader role.

Saying “no” is convenient. It’s much easier to say “no” to something you don’t like or don’t agree with, but where is that going to get you? The answer is no where. If you are just  waiting for an easy idea to come your way that you know can be a reality, why are you in the position of being a leader? Is it to just have the title, or are you in that position to lead? Saying “no” will close you off from doing what seems like the impossible even though it could be possible.

I understand now that in the future I cannot be afraid to say yes. I need to take the step into the unknown to find something that is truly remarkable. Saying no to opportunities in the past has definitely been easy, but being a leader is not easy, it’s supposed to be tough. I want to be a leader that says yes.

“If somebody offers you an amazing opportunity but you are not sure you can do it, say yes – then learn how to do it later!”
― Richard Branson

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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