We’re coming to the end of our academic year.
Next week is Finals Week.
This morning, during our Student Development Team Meeting, our Vice President encouraged us to go around and share one highlight of the year.
As we went around the circle, I started thinking of all of the events, activities, and projects that went well. Yet when it came time for me to share, I didn’t talk about any of those things.
I talked about my greatest failure that occurred this year.
Reflecting back on that moment, I want to share some of my observations.
1. I am fortunate to work in a place that encourages me to try and helps me to learn when my attempts don’t work as expected. Some work environments don’t want people to fail, don’t want people to talk about failure, and punish people when failure occurs. I’m not talking about moral failure or failure with extreme consequences. I’m talking about the kind of failure that naturally occurs as a result of healthy risk and innovation.
Tonight is our traditional dinner where outgoing student leaders will bestow their blessing and traditional gifts on the incoming student leaders. It’s our annual version of passing the baton.
I had the opportunity to sit down a few weeks ago with our student leaders who were getting ready to finish up their student leader year. We sat around the table and talked about what needed to happen between that moment and the moment we’ll share tonight. I wanted them to focus on ending well.
In the midst of our discussion I offered them one question. It’s a question that has implications for the legacy they leave and the condition of things when they step away.
What will you do this year to leave your position better than you found it?
Rather than pointing people back to specific posts and encouraging them to navigate around my site, I like to compile a series of articles into an ebook.
This is exactly what I’ve done with my recent series – Just Starting Out: 7 Priorities For New Student Leaders.
I’ve gone through each post and edited, enhanced, and elaborated a bit. I’ve included some more questions and quotes in the sidebars. It’s all packaged together in a nicely designed, 17 page, downloadable pdf (an ebook).
I’ve placed the download link on my Resources page for future reference. You can also download it immediately using the download button below.
In the midst of changing fads and opinions, character is the one thing that never goes out of style. Author Warren Wiersbe says, “Life is built on character, but character is built on decisions.” Consider the decisions you make today in light of their impact on the following character traits.
Integrity — as you make decisions about your authenticity.
Respect – as you make decisions about what you place value in.
Relationships – as you make decisions on how you live with people.
Personal Growth — as you make decisions regarding your own potential.
Excellence – as you make decisions about your best effort.
Attitude – as you make decisions in choosing your perspective.
Leadership – as you make decisions about your influence.
It doesn’t matter if these actions are intentional or not. Each has the same effect of leaving a relationship stuck in a circle that’s going nowhere.
Since writing that post, I’ve thought of some other actions that cause us to become stuck. I’ve even caught myself engaging in a couple of these over the last week, causing a rift in my relationships. So I offer these to you as a reflection of my own errors.
Let’s review the first three:
1. Unexpressed gratitude - Gratitude is more than a feeling, it’s an expression. If you don’t say, people don’t sense it.
2. Unclear expectations - Most conflict is the result of unmet expectations. If your expectations are fuzzy you’ll end up frustrating people.
3. Unforgiven wrongs - We tend to think that holding something against someone gives us some sort of power. It actually ends up taking over our heart and tearing us apart from the inside out.
I’d like to introduce you to what I’m calling, The Principle Of The Group Picture. It’s really simple. You are in a group picture. The picture comes back. When you see the actual picture, the law goes into effect…
The first person you will look for and look at in a group picture…is you.
Come on. Admit it. You look at the group picture and you’re checking to see what you look like. You want to see what your expression is. You’re looking to see if it was a bad hair day.
There’s a couple of other principles that fall under the “you look for you first” principle. They are…
If you look good, it’s a good group photo. It doesn’t matter if everyone else is making a funny face or is blurry or foaming at the mouth. You look good = good group picture.
If you don’t think you look good, it’s not a good group photo. You could have one hair out of place or you blinked or half your head is behind someone’s waving arm. You don’t look good = bad group picture.
This principle has profound implications for leaders who are trying to cast a vision for their team.
In the student leader year, momentum naturally occurs at the beginning. There is a lot of energy and excitement and a sense of “newness.” The buzz and dynamics of having everyone back on campus creates a strong sense of togetherness. But momentum will soon fade if it’s not nurtured, managed, and fed with an intentional plan.
If you think about it, momentum is a student leader’s best friend. When you have it, you appear better than you really are. When you lack it, you look worse than you really are. When a team or organization has momentum, it can overcome obstacles easily and without much effort.
A great illustration of the power of momentum is a moving train. When the train is standing still (no momentum) you can keep it stopped with a small block of wood wedged in front of the wheels. But that same train, moving down the tracks with some velocity can break through a six foot wall of concrete with little effort.