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This word seems to come up a lot. Either we are “leading” a class discussion, “leading” a campus tour, or a “leader” in an organization. All these activities bring to mind a sense of authority. But when I think about the people I consider leaders, authority isn’t necessarily what comes to mind. I know a lot of people who don’t need to say a word, nor do they possess a title, but their mere presence completely changes the atmosphere in a room.
We hear all types of definitions for “leadership.” They include everything from “speak softly and carry a big stick,” to “a long list of values”, to “treat others as you would want to be treated.” My rural sociology class this semester challenged my own personal definition of leadership. The key aspect of this class is that our society is created by structure and agency.
Structure being: environments affect people’s decisions.
Agency being: people make decisions that affect their environments.
The two affect each other and are defined by each other. Conversations I have had the past few weeks seemed to bring me back to this idea repeatedly. I heard people use a dozen variations of this:
“It was so boring. It was a waste of time. I didn’t want to be there. I don’t like the people there. The things they do aren’t fun or purposeful.”
Every time I heard these counts, I couldn’t help but think back to my class and wonder – should we really allow a place to create who we are? Or should we use who we are to create a place?
In many ways, we use this concept in Blue Key to deliver ULeads. We practice facilitation techniques in order to be able to create the best possible environment for learning as we present workshops on self-development, communication, goal setting, and developing an organization.
To me, leadership is intentionally creating a place, not letting a place create you.
o Leaders don’t let circumstances determine their attitude; they use their attitude to determine the circumstance.
o Leaders don’t complain about problems; they find a solution.
o Leaders don’t let others’ opinions determine their worth; they determine their worth by their own opinions.
We can blame our surroundings for everything we don’t like about our lives. But the truth is, we create that society. A mantra of a friend of mine is: “There are two types of people: the kind that things happen to, and the kind that make things happen.” Next time you are in a situation you don’t like, ask yourself:
How can I transform this place into somewhere I want to be?
“The problem is not the problem. The problem is your attitude about the problem.” –Captain Jack Sparrow
“Some people look for a beautiful place. Others make a place beautiful.” –Hazbat Inavat Khan
On September 27, the 2013-2014 Quest year officially began with a weekend of new friendships, laughter, and memories. The fun began with dinner at Dr. Pat Bosco’s home, where he and his wife graciously hosted all of Blue Key and Quest for Quest “Tapping,” which officially welcomes them into the freshman honorary. After some “get to know you” activities, and a great message from Dr. Bosco, Quest carpooled out to Camp Tomah Shinga in Junction City, where they stayed Friday night before heading back home Saturday afternoon.
During the first night of the retreat, Sam and I led several more icebreaker activities and facilitated an exciting discussion on expectations for the year. A lot of great ideas were shared, and the freshmen kept the evening fast-paced and fun with lots of great questions and dialogue. Quest adviser John Lantz shared some perspective on the legacy of Quest, and the benefits it offers to the new members. The night ended with the traditional Quest Retreat bonfire and s’mores, as the Questies continued bonding through stories and laughter.
After a late night chatting and playing games, Quest woke up bright and early Saturday morning. BK’ers Ben and Sara arrived, and led a few self-development workshops, which provided some of the weekend’s most empowering moments. After some group pictures and the exchanging of phone numbers, Quest loaded up the cars and went back to Manhattan. It was a great weekend for all of us, and only the beginning to a fantastic year of leadership, mentorship, and development!
Two weekends ago, we left Manhattan for the scenic hills of Soldier, KS for the Red Rock Guest Ranch. A good friend of mine in FarmHouse had connected us to Bill and Deb Brown, the owners of the bed and breakfast, during the spring semester. The hour long drive facilitated great opportunities for our class to catch up on the summer time, discuss the latest on goings at K-State, and play a few games of "My Cow" - you'll have to ask for the rules - as we traveled.
During the summer months Blue Key members were stationed all over the world helping to influence in a positive way. Probably the farthest away was Ben Harstine serving in the Middle East. Back in the U.S. we had Kassie Curran in Washington, D.C., Sara Schifferdecker in Alabama and many people scattered across the great state of Kansas. We have all convened back in Manhattan to start our senior of college and our year of serving the K-State campus and community through Blue Key Honor Society.
An update on how our 15 Blue Key members spent their summers:
Zach Boal has applied to medical school and been working on getting the Blue Key budget finalized in order to keep us financially responsible. While working for Koch Industries this summer, Jake Unruh has been planning for our group to attend Blue Key National Leadership Conference and preparing the schedule for giving out our scholarship dollars. Other Koch Industries interns included Erin Clopine and Tyler Johnson who worked in Human Resources. Erin worked with Annika Schnieder to plan our self-development program for freshmen and sophomore students called Catalyst. Annika spent her summer here in Manhattan working as a student assistant for DCE in the GoTeacher program. Even though Tyler was stationed in Wichita for the summer, he also spent a good deal of time in Manhattan working our Quest booth for orientation and enrollment. Kassie Curran served as an intern at the United States Department of Agriculture in Washington D.C., while also preparing our alumni and outreach plans for the coming year and getting our website up to date for everyone to view. Kaitlin Long and Kaitlyn Dewell spent their summers in Kansas City putting together our new leadership conference for high school students. Kaitlin Long worked for the Kauffman Foundation and Kaitlyn Dewell performed four times a day at Worlds of Fun the whole summer. Sam Kellerman and Brett Seidl worked extremely hard throughout the three-month break to plan a full schedule for our Quest Freshmen Honorary program. When Sam was not working on Blue Key or enjoying everything that comes with summer, she was a nanny and took summer classes. Brett worked for K-State’s Institute for Commercialization as a licensing intern and will continue that through the school year. Lexi Wingerson worked on a tan this summer, as she was picking and marketing fruit for an orchard outside of Kansas City. She also spent a great deal of time getting us ready to formulate some new ULead leadership development workshops and has been organizing the existing ULeads. Chris Kellenbarger spent time up in Indianapolis working to increase the philanthropy of his fraternity, Delta Sigma Phi. Chris is in charge of all of our events and recognition for the year. He has worked to ensure Blue Key celebrates and socializes with other leaders, as well as each other. Ben Harstine interned at a health and safety training company gaining medical, business and cultural experience in the Middle East. He took three months and planned a wonderful retreat for us to grow together in preparation for being the best leaders we possibly can. Sara Schifferdecker spent her summer leading younger girls through a nine-week spiritual leadership program to grow in their relationship with Christ. She has planned different development opportunities for us to grow at each meeting and throughout the year. I was in Olathe, KS this summer selling John Deere tractors, as well as assisting members on their projects while coordinating other activities for the group.
I am thoroughly excited about the year ahead and the impact we can have on future leaders of K-State and high school students. We have such a great group of dynamic leaders and fantastic people – to have simply ‘a good year’ would be unacceptable. This group of leaders can accomplish anything we set our minds to, so I’m sure this year will be filled with life changing memories!
Serving I Live,
2013-2014 Blue Key President
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