Unexpectedly… My Leadership Class Helped Me Find Myself

I’m a leader. WHY? Because I’ve been told so.

No, really, that’s valid.

This semester of college has provided me with a business course that is all about learning what kind of leader you have the potential to be. Honestly, I didn’t enroll in this class on purpose, I just begged the business department to put me in an elective for my minor so I could graduate on time. Call it fate? Call it luck? Call it desperation?

Anyways, I went into this class with no expectations at all of what would happen. I sat in the front on the first day with a bright eyed teacher that was bursting with content and excitement. “We are learning about leadership and how to become a better leader through practices you will  use in and outside of class.” She said, “Some will blow this class off, some of you will be changed by it.”

Seemed basic enough. Little did I know, this class was going to help me find myself in the midst of my college years of chaos. She wasn’t kidding, I was changed by her course.

Ever since high school, I wanted to know who Anna was. I heard things from others, felt things on my own, but I never really understood what it was to be me and why I did the actions I did.

In this Leadership class, we took a lot of self-evaluations, personality tests and created charts of goals and values. The year started with recognizing what huge events in your life transformed your energy and either rated a 10 on the scale of happiness or a 1. We worked through how those significant events might make us better decision makers or choose a certain way of thinking or feeling.

When I looked at these huge events, financial instability, bad family relationships, adventure, first year of college, I realized a lot about myself. I am a stickler with my money and where I spend it because I have seen what money loss can do to people. I value close relationships because I haven’t always had the best relationships in my immediate family. It was a lot to take in and a lot to learn about myself.

We continued these practices and I continued to learn who I was.

We did practices like sitting down and listening to someone completely and devotedly. We learned how to apologize to someone sincerely. There were a lot of random practices that sound like you wouldn’t get much out of them but let me tell you something. Going into our professional and personal lives, we were asked to practice these exercises and when I tried it out, it changed the way I communicated with people. I put down distractions and got into deeper conversations and put meaning behind “I’m sorry”. I was able to strengthen relationships at work and at home because I learned how to become a more effective communicator and listener. In a leadership class.

What does that have to do with leading?

Scholarships awarded for my leadership excellence and for being a great student.

Scholarships awarded for my leadership excellence and for being a great student.

Leading isn’t just about power and brains, it’s about compassion and gaining the respect and trust of people so they want to follow you. If you don’t understand yourself, how can you begin to understand others? Knowing yourself will allow you to recognize how you need to interact with someone and what they might need from you. You will  know what kind of values you need to honor and what skills you have to offer. That is when you will start to realize how you can put yourself in the best set up for success.This is how you learn what kind of leader you are.

If you learn how to communicate with people and can contribute a meaningful conversation whether it’s telling them what to improve on, praising them or asking them for something, people will start to recognize those strengths and come to you when needed. Learning how you can function as a better leader will make it easier for those to follow you.

We did goal setting and career sheets to help us recognize what we want in our lives and what we can do today to start chasing our goals. Isn’t that incredible? Your goals don’t just happen, you have to start doing what you can today to make them a reality. For some reason, this was a huge moment for me when I realized that I am in the process of some huge dreams I value and can start working towards others right now. I found out that I am doing pretty damn good right now. I realized that I am in a really strong place for my career and can continue to shoot for the stars.

One of my favorite projects had us request three stories and statements from those close to us. We had them describe what they think makes us different from others and we had to compile the feedback into a consensus agreement. When one person tells you that you are a hard-worker, you smile and feel good about what you are doing. When twelve people email you back and tell you that they see how hard you work, you realize that it isn’t just a compliment, it’s one of your strongest attributes. I found out that not just one person thinks I am caring, but 8 out of 12 people emailed me back with examples of just how caring of a person they see me to be. This made me feel good and confident in how I was presenting myself as a person.

Throughout all of these reflections and assignments, I came away with an insanely in-depth evaluation of who I am. I learned how to communicate more effectively, what values are important to me, what I dream of and how I can achieve it, what goals are priorities for me, that I have about 15 dream careers, that I am a positive, caring, hard-working person in the eyes of others, that I am really good at planning and not so good at intense pressure situations.

I learned more about myself in this semester and honestly more content in this class than I have ever learned in a class in college. I learned that by understanding what I need and who I am, I can educate myself easier and through engaging in practices, I have learned much more valuable lessons then by reading a text book.

This class was the most valuable I have ever taken and I only wish this professor could be cloned and teach everywhere. I found myself as a person and understand a lot about why I do the things I do and more importantly, how those things will help me succeed in my dreams. (CHEESY). But seriously, this class was inspiring.

I had to gush because this class rocked my world.

Until tomorrow,

Anna Marie ❤

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