We all have someone we look up to, whether it be a celebrity, our parent, or a close friend. These remarkable inspirations in our lives are our “leaders” – the ones who set the path for us to follow and who want to make this world a better place.
As the Lieutenant Governor of Division 42 West Key Club, I have encountered many life-changing people and experiences who have shaped me as the leader I am today. Although being Lieutenant Governor has only constituted a mere fraction of my life, it has already shaped me and helped me grow more as a person than any other organization, person, or entity.
Being a leader for over 400 members from 7 high schools is not a simple task – I have many daily, weekly, and monthly tasks that can consume the majority of my time and can be very overwhelming as a working student.
However, my term has definitely taught me many lessons (so far), which I will share with you all today:
- It’s okay to be “mean” to get your point across.
I grew up feeling like I had to please others. This meant being kind to everyone, even if they did something to upset or hurt me. It can be very easy (yet toxic) to fall into this trap of, “I don’t want to say anything because I don’t want that person to think I’m mean.”
As a leader, I’ve learned that sometimes, it’s necessary to be a little mean, such as when people aren’t listening to me or when someone says a rude remark that offends me or anyone else. Sometimes being “mean” (for lack of better words) is the only way people won’t take advantage of my kindness and will actually listen to what I need to say.
It’s nice to be empathetic, but it’s necessary to be assertive.
- You should only be doing the job you signed up to do.
In other words, you shouldn’t be picking up another person’s slack. One of the best ways to grow as a leader is to delegate.
I had to learn this the hard way. I grew up very perfectionistic; if something wasn’t going my way, then I had the urge to step in to fix it. This, however, only adds more stress to my plate.
Having a specific group of people whom you can delegate your tasks to is extremely crucial as well. In Key Club, there is a Division Leadership Team, whom I can assign certain tasks to, thereby reducing my workload by a ton.
If you’re stepping in to do something for someone else’s job, remember what you signed up for. You signed up for your position, not for that person’s; therefore, don’t waste your time and worry about what you need to do.
- Taking breaks is absolutely necessary.
Have you ever said you were “burnt out?” Have you ever worked for hours on end that your neck started to feel stiff, your back started to ache, and your eyes started to burn?
These are all signs of overworking, which can be absolutely detrimental to your health. Personally, they are the reasons why I struggled during my first few months of being the president of my school’s Key Club in 2016: I wasn’t getting enough rest, my mind was always anxious, and my productivity levels diminished very quickly due to that “burnt out” feeling I described earlier.
Nowadays, whenever I’m stressed I allow myself to take a step back from what I’m doing and to relax for a few minutes by reading a book, playing with my dog, or texting my friends. This helps me refocus and lets my brain recharge by doing a less strenuous activity.
Remember to treat yourself and to take time out of your day to cater to your mental health!
- With great power comes great responsibility.
Never forget that you are responsible for your actions, including what you do beyond your leadership position and what you post on social media. Everything you do reflects who you are and is setting an example for those you serve – don’t abuse that power, nor disregard it entirely.
One of the most pivotal moments in my life was when I was told that my social media posts are a direct reflection of who I am (including the stupid memes I retweet), and that people judge me based off that image I set for myself. I used to aimlessly post on Twitter and Instagram, not remembering that I had an honorable reputation to uphold.
This meant resisting the all-consuming urge to retweet posts with bad language or inappropriate humor – one of the most difficult things I had to learn to do.
However, this changed my life completely. I now have a feed that I am comfortable sharing with my friends and family (yes, even my family members on Facebook) and I feel less ashamed to say that I proudly serve as the Lt. Governor of Division 42 West. I can proudly represent my club and myself all on my social media without fear of negative judgment.
- Relationships should never get in the way of one’s productivity.
I used to believe that relationships take precedence over everything in my life, including my leadership roles and academics. This was an incredibly destructive time, but it was also the time of my life in which I learned and grew the most as a young adult.
Your significant other should be encouraging you to work harder, not to hardly work.
Now that I am a little older and in a new relationship with my boyfriend Charles, I know that he never takes precedence over my Key Club work. Sure, it would be nice to spend a few more hours with him every now and then, but I signed up for an arduous position. I have obligations to fulfill. I have people to serve. I have deadlines to meet. I can’t sacrifice all of that for a few moments with my significant other.
Yes, my boyfriend means the world to me. But no, I do not allow my time with him to dominate my time spent working on Key Club.
It’s all about balance – if your boyfriend or girlfriend is making you slack off (whether it’s deliberately or subconsciously), then it’s time to make a decision between your position or your boyfriend.
If you think about it, your leadership role is helping you develop as an emerging adult and a successful businessman/businesswoman, whereas your relationship is boosting your mood for the time being. Choose wisely and never forget about the promises you made to your members and your duties as a leader.
- Enjoy every moment of it!
Amidst the perpetual stress and the incessant negative feedback from members and non-members, I have always found it in my best interest to just have fun. Life as a leader can be chaotic, stressful, and anxiety-inducing, but it can also be rewarding, exciting, and worthwhile.
Always thank those who help you out, whether it be in a small or large way. Show your gratitude to others through meaningful thank-you cards, posters, etc. Be kind to the people you serve and respect those who govern you. Trust your gut instinct. Remember to ask if anyone needs help, and be there for someone if he/she needs it. Laugh and smile. Do what you love and love what you do.