Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Chick Flicks, fairy tales, and dating...

Growing up I loved fairy tales. What little girl didn't? I would crawl into my Abuelo's lap, beg him to tell me a story, and hang onto every word, losing myself in the fantasy until he finished. No matter which story or the outcome, I grew up believing that I was a princess and one day, once I was grown, I would meet my Prince...When we're young we are innocent, idealistic, and more open to the possibilities of what life might bring...We believe in fairy tales, magic, far away lands, and that good will always conquer evil, no matter the odds. As we get older we become jaded. We forget.

Let's review the standard fairy tale formula, for old times sake...
1 Part kingdom far away
Add one fair maiden
One witch, stepmother, evil entity
A heavy dose of magic, fairy dust, fairy g-mother, etc
2 cups of romance
2 cups of evil, conflict/strife
1 Handsome Prince
And stir it all together
The Final product? Happily ever after

You and I both know that life...well, it doesn't happen like that, no matter how many romantic chick flicks, cheesy sitcoms, romantic novels, or lifetime movies Hollywood throws together. Why?? Because dating is not that simple. As much as we would like the happily ever after, it doesn't just magically happen. And after awhile, the broken promises, hurt, games, fighting, and the waiting gets old. Why do we insist on playing games? Is it to try to relive our childhood? If so, is it really worth it if it's at someone else's expense? Why can't we just be honest with each other about how we feel?

Life and love aren't perfect, wake up people, it's not supposed to be. With every experience, every relationship, every break up, every person we meet we are changed. If things were perfect and idyllic we would never learn anything and life would have no meaning. No matter how difficult or horrible the situation, everything happens for a reason and while it may be hard to see why this very moment...you will in time and you will be better for it. Create your own fairy tale, so your love life hasn't been perfect, so what? Learn from your past, make the most out of your present, and look forward to an even brighter future.

Think I'm dreaming? Idealistic? Overly optimistic? Maybe. But I'll take my chances with fairy tales...My Prince Charming, despite my own doubts and fears, has shown up, and I know that the end has completely and totally justified the means. It's cliche, but it doesn't make it any less true, there is someone out there for you and when it's right you will have no doubt in your mind, or your heart. In the meantime, here's my advice to my single friends out there, don't stress...just let go and let the universe take care of the rest. Enjoy your life and do what makes you happy because they're going to show up when you least expect it ;)

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Life, Love, and other series of events...

I have always believed that my life has been a series of random events brought together to form my destiny. When I was younger I would agonize over strained friendships, heart breaks by mean little boys, lost opportunities, and other difficulties that came my way. Until I graduated from High School I never truly understood why things happened the way they did. I finally began to put together the pieces of the puzzle. No matter how difficult or confusing the situation, things did happen for a reason and although I didn't understand why at the time, I would eventually see that it was for the best.

Once in college I didn't really date, I crushed a lot but never really found anyone of substance. I would occasionally question why everyone around me was paired up but then I realized that my energy was meant elsewhere. Not everything was always perfect and things didn't always work out the way I had liked but looking back some of my greatest memories come from the friendships I made, organizations I was a part of, and the leadership positions I held. Each experience helped me to grow and develop as leader and a person.

In my Post college years I have continued on my search to find myself. I've made and lost several friends, worked at a couple different places, and lived in a few different zip codes. I've felt happiness, sadness, disappointment, anger, you name it. But no matter what I pressed on and took every moment in stride, even if it took me longer than I would have liked. When I moved back to Kansas after graduation and a short period of time in Dallas, I made some great memories with old a new friends, reconnected with my love of Lawrence, and survived some pretty ridiculous winters. I like to call this period of time the post transition. When the cold became too much to bear and I found myself dreaming of palm trees and breezy beaches I knew that it was time to move on. Thanks to a friend at the time who had moved to Florida, I was able to find a new job at a local college.

In a matter of weeks I had moved over 400 miles away from my friends and family to a brand new place. Tampa had promised a time of rebirth and renewal. The first year was great as I made a ton of new friends, loved my job (the majority of the time), and lived 15 minutes away from the beach. As time passed, the work became less of a passion and more a burden, the cost of living more expensive, the guys became more and more self absorbed and shady, and I knew that I no longer saw myself living in Florida. As with many situations in my life, like a clockwork, and almost when I had given up on finding a new job, my brother texted me to let me know that the Hillel at A&M was hiring and I should apply. I was a little hesitant at first, especially since who the hell lived in College Station other than Aggies??? Unbeknownst to me I would shortly become one of them. I call this period of time in my life the Renaissance.

In moving to College Station I knew a total of two people, my brother and a mutual friend who had helped to persuade me to relocate. It was great living in a college town again, usually little to no traffic, lived super close to my job, and I was less than 2 hours away from my sorority sisters in Houston. The dating scene as you could imagine was pretty dismal, however I as usual, had my fair share of crushes, some almost terminal you might say. I had tried jdate, match, eharmony, you name it! I even let my brother set me up with one of his fraternity brothers, oy to the vey. Things were getting very frustrating and everyone kept putting pressure on me to go on these second dates with these subpar prospects, however my internal compass always kept me on the right path. I focused on grad school and my job which usually kept me very busy and started to plan a long overdue trip with two of my best friends to Acapulco. Once again, getting frustrated with stupid cupid's lack of aim, I gave jdate one last chance. Hearing from another sleezebag basically did me in and I decided to cancel my membership. However, somehow fate stepped in and sent me a message, literally. Upon logging in I noticed that I had a message. He seemed, sweet, endearing, and most importantly, sane, so I responded. Who knew that because of one e-mail, especially from Jdate of all places, I would be so ridiculously happy today. As many of you know, I am no longer at Hillel and am now working for Texas A&M. It wasn't an easy decision but I can safely say that it was the best decision I have made in a long time. I'm not sure what the universe has planned for me next but I promise to keep you updated, as always. Lastly, remember to be good to each other.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Cubanisms...and their translations...

Here it is for all you that can't figure out what the heck us Cubans are saying.....
  The Original Cuban Saying
The Intended English Meaning
No me importa un pito
I don't care a whistle
I don't care at all
Me importa tres pepinos
I care three cucumbers
I don't care at all
Me sacaron el hígado
They took my liver out
I worked like a slave
Me sacaron el kilo
They took the penny out of me
I worked like a slave
Le pusistes la tapa al pomo
You put the lid on the jar
You really messed up this time!
Tú no pintas nada
You don't paint anything
This doesn't concern you
Estás comiendo de lo que pica el pollo
You are eating what the chicken nibble
You're wasting your time in foolish things
Estás acabando
You are finishing
You're a big success
¡Te la comiste!
You ate it!
You did it great!
You kicked it!
Te estás metiendo en camisa de once varas
You are getting into an eleven yard shirt
You're getting into big trouble
Eramos pocos y parió Catana
We were few and Catana gave birth
There were a lot of people here, and then more showed up
Es un arroz con mango
It is a rice with mango
It's a very complicated thing
No tiene dos dedos de frente
He/She doesn't have two fingers of forehead
He/she has no intelligence at all
Para luego es tarde
For later, it's late
Don't wait, let's do it now
Nos dejastes plantados
You left us planted
You stood us up
Me embarcaste
You shipped me off
You stood us up
Se formó
It formed
Here comes trouble!
Es la pata del diablo
He/she is the leg of the devil
Likes to play pranks
Este huevo quiere sal
This egg wants salt
What does he/she wants?
¡Qué pesao me cae!
He falls so thick on me!
I cannot stand him!
Camarón que se duerme, se lo lleva la corriente
Shrimps that falls asleep, current that takes it away
Wake up or you are going to loose your opportunities
Me voy a hacer el de la vista gorda
I'm going to do the one with the fat sight
I'm going to ignore that
El no dispara un chicharo
He doesn't shoot a pea
He doesn't do any work
Hay gato encerrado
There's a cat locked up
There is something hidden here
Tiró la casa por la ventana
He/she threw the house out the window
He/she pulled all the stops
El horno no está para galleticas
The oven is not for cookies
It's not the right moment for that
Te pusistes para tu número
You put yourself to your number
You got on the ball
Por si las moscas
For if the flies
Just in case
Juntos pero no revueltos
Together but not scrambled
Although we are together on this, there is a big difference between us
Perro que ladra no muerde
Dog that barks, doesn't bite
Too many words but no action
Tira la piedra y esconde la mano
Throws the stone, and hides the hand
He/she knows how to do things without being discovered
Una tempestad en un vaso de agua
A tempest in a glass of water
A storm in a teacup
Le cayó comején
Termites are falling on him/her
He/She became nuts
Le faltan unos cuantos tornillos
He/she is missing few screws
He/she is nuts
Le zumba el merequetén
It heaves the merequeten
It blows our minds
Comiéndose un cable
Eating a cable
Going through difficult times
Se tiraron p'al medio de la calle
They threw themselves into the middle of the street
They went all out
Caminan con los codos
They walk with their elbows
They're cheapskates
Pedro cantó el manicero
Pedro sang the peanut vendor
Peter died
El se da lija
He sand papers himself
He is a narcissist

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Baby, it's cold outside...

Well, this is what I get for checking the weather channel again! According to our local papers and the national weather service, we're under a Hard Freeze Warning until Thursday morning. This means a potentially good amount of sleet, freezing rain, and icy roads. Personally, I think Mother Nature is having a manic or possibly bi-polar few weeks because last time I checked, it was a balmy 58 degrees outside. So, instead of joining the precipitating peanut gallery of weather worriers, I'm going to take the higher ground and hope that Mother Nature takes her meds and let's the weather coast into comfortableness! In the meantime, stay warm and think happy thoughts ya'll!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Musings from nuestra aventura en Mexico...

Well, given the subarctic temperatures lately, I figured I would be nostalgic and think about my amazing trip this summer with my two besties to Acapulco. In the meantime I just have to think warm thoughts and bundle up. I hope you enjoy our Acapulco-lyptic musings...

Gazebo que es
No es amor es gas
Nap time
Missing but not forgetten driver side mirror
Wet t-shirt contest
No charge for looking sitting or waiting
Let's make a deal
Para tu Mami, tu papi
Ni hau
It's for your Mexican boyfriend
Son solteras?
La drama
Mexican calculator
Media naranja
Quieres un cruceiro?
Mi reina
No soy chinita!!
Mi hijo es atlético y muy guapo
Pasale pasale
Boy who pushes all the buttons
De donde son?
Tienes email?
No bailas? Por que no?
Que bueno que te cache
Flashlight girl
Cerveza boys
Sugar daddy y las hermanas
Eclipse en español
Porque no quedan en la casa de tu abuelos?
Elevator on crack
Ese no sirve
Que piso? Que cuarto?
No hay toallas en 1107
Tu hablas español muy bien
Sexy música
Elevator girl/boy
The phones are out of service for a month or so
Rain rain rain
No limonada
Ni email! ni telefono! ni nada!
Phone card
Tienes que chequear
Ah! La plaza! La plaza! Porque no me dijiste al square??
Benito y la princesa
Boom boom chika boom boom
Stripper chick at senor frogs
Do we have to cross the highway?
Catcall, universal in any language
Tatuaje? Tatutaje de henna?
Quieres plata? Te doy un package deal
Pan no es gratis
Love boat
What is that big boat doing there?
Does he expect us to cross the highway?
Playeras mojadas
Ya fuimos a todos...quieren a mi casa para ver las ruinas? We don't want to see your ruinas
El gobierno me paga para dar la información
Para que me muestra esa???
Tienes reservación? No pero es mi cumpleaños
Mordida!!! Queremos pastel!!!!
You need to turn on the AC on a wk before you get here
Calling a 1-800 number outside the us
The soccer team boys and their crunches
Clipboard boy and what is his purpose??
Tres camas por favor
Acapulco men are too friendly with each other
2 camas cada sombrilla
Do we have tourist stamped on your forehead?
Es solo por tu seguridad
Santa Clara
Es que..
Tío León y las mensajes
Masaje?? Para el estrés
Algo de beber mi reina?
No cabemos!!! Eso es para los niños
La la la la la jump
Sunburned parts
Mel, where's the aloe?
What is this in pesos/dollars?
Fridge door
Yo quiero cafe
Chocolate cake
Agua natural por favor
Lots of books
Funny tummy
No señor frogs if you want to live to tell about it
Ya viene!! Ya viene!! Para caida!!
Her laugh is annoying!!
The tv works!!! For now..
No saw!!!
We heart Adam Rodriguez
The search for monkeys and traditional Mexican dresses
Melanie loves her boyfriend, we get it
How old do you think we are?
I'd probably kill someone else if it wasn't you guys
Not montezuma this time
I'd ride the banana/jetski if we knew how to swim
I don't want to get carried away by the waves
Mel to the rescue in the ocean
Dinner and a show
Necesitamos tres toallas por favor
Faltamos cinco toyotas
Mel's "charm"
The balcony breeze
Falling asleep on the balcony
Corren gatitios! Corren!! Dejanlos en Paz
Followed by random dogs
Shirt carried away by same dog
Oh! I guess it's marking its territory
Pool time
I need shade!!
Come on legs tan!!!
I don't want a spotty tan!!
Mosquitos y bichos
The step that kept tripping us
Hydrocordizone that should help
Heat rash!
Mel how come you're not getting bug bites and we are??
La abuela with perky boobs and a tight booty
Shouldnt you focus on the important stuff when you get plastic surgery...like your face??
Ese tarde mucho
Deposito? Porque??
Adventures in walmart
The Mexican sun is really strong we need higher SPF
We've had enough sun
Waking up 8 or 9 everyday not on purpose
No tomaman?? Como diviertense??
No boyfriends???
Eric, mojito, su prima y su amigo
The peacock Dancer
Eres cubana?? Que bien!!
We like your freckles!!
What would your boyfriend say?
Airport confessions
No vegetarian...I can take the turkey out
Look here comes trouble
No bagels
Estamos cerrada
Bueno, bonito, y barato los tres B's
Ustedes me caen bien
Todo es en el pasado
Mis clientas
El orden y the archbishop
Chafa buena y de bien calidad
Oh if you put it in water the color wont wash off
I dont mean to offend you but...
Bargainning nightmares
Viente y no mas
Que quieres pagar?
Let her have it!!
Aqui hay buen lugar
You can take the bus...um taxi?
Up for adventure?? Let's ride the bus
Puedo bajar la ventana
I'm schvitzing!!
Yiddish 101
What does that mean??
Graphic novels
Chick lit
Ok pack your bags girls were going to Canada, eh??
Rain, rain and oh wait...more rain
Sewer smell...foochi
Ustedes son como mexicanas como media mexicanas
There's so much sand in the pool
Sweet cleaning lady
Missing towels
Quieres un taxi?
This reminds me of NY
They drive worse here than in Dallas
Why are the taxis honking at us???
Pedestrians don't have the right of way here
Wait to cross..no go now!! After the gray van...no now!!!!
Where are the seatbelts...Aqui no usan eso
Incorrect change
No tip for you!
Where's the condo??
Oh look!! They're using the pool!!!
Cuanto les cobran para venir aquí??
Extreme tailgating
Stop and go!!!
They deliver everywhere!!
We can order it to the room...oh wait...no phone
They have a hard rock and a hooters here!!!
Quiero un coco!!!
Sniff...sniff what is this??
Con que viene???
Gurgle gurgle
Its not spicy enough!!!
Is that a banana leaf??
La pimienta?
Es que no come carne
Breakfast and lunch al fresco
No te asustes!! No le pasa nada!! Tranquila
Guess well take the stairs
Speedo man is drawing closer avert gaze!!!
Treinsitas? Treinsitas?
Search for the big dipper
That cloud looks like a...
I don't want to eat the eyes!!!
Mel will you pick the fish off the bone for me???
What is that??? Take my shoe and kill it??
Are you from California?
Torn bills
Que paso reina???
Cambia esa ahora!!!
Damn Mel, your Cuban accent really comes out when you're mad!!
Banos always come before customs
Mis amigas, las perlas de mi vida <3
Jude and Ro, if you're reading this, I hope you're staying warm!!! TQM.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

The Leadership Journey

Lao Tzu once said, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” We begin this journey when we first come into the world. We first learn to recognize our surroundings, adapting to new colors, shapes, and things around us. We are surrounded by new and strange faces, faces of people that will help us to figure out who we are and to become along the way. We take our steps in learning how to talk, crawl, walk, and run. Things may be awkward at first and we may mess up or fall down, but with time and patience we get better and succeed. In addition, our parents, family members, and teachers educate us on the ways of the world, how to be a good person, the importance of family and friends, and teach countless lessons that impact our lives and decisions that we will make. We carry these lessons with us as we grow and our experiences shape the type of person we want to be. As leaders we go through many of the same steps. In the beginning we are the eager student, wanting to learn all that we can, looking up to mentors and other leaders for guidance. We are constantly learning, adapting, and forming our identities as leaders. We take each experience as a tool to improve our skills, remind us of mistakes we want to avoid, and help us to build a foundation. Once we have experience and are comfortable we are able to lead others, imparting the knowledge we have gained to help shape their identities as was done for us.

The purpose of this paper is to explore what I believe to be the most important principles of effective leadership and why they are so critical to the success of a leader and their organization. In addition, I will also cite information based in my experiences, and research from several experts in the field of leadership.

Every morning when you wake up and look in the mirror, who do you see looking back at you? Is it someone you know? Do you know what they believe in? What they stand for? Who are they? Believe it or not all of these questions are integral in your leadership journey. You can’t possibly know what kind of leader you want to be if you don’t know who you are or what you stand for. Thus, the first principle of effective leadership is to find your voice by clarifying your personal values and limits. How is this done you may ask? To do this you have to explore what Kouzes-Posner refers to as your inner territory.

You have to take a journey into those places in your heart and soul where you
bury your treasures, so that you can carefully examine them and eventually bring
them to display…You must know what you care about…Otherwise you are just
putting on an act (Kouzes-Posner, 2002,p.52).

After all, if you don’t know what you value or can’t communicate what you are passionate about, how can you expect others to follow you or do the same? The journey into your inner territory is a difficult one as you may face negative experiences from your past, lessons that haven’t been completely learned, or weaknesses you may not be ready to conquer. Just know that in the end, the destination is well worth the journey. I say this not just to make a point; I am speaking from personal experience. In my journey I was forced to face the pain from abusive relationships, disappointing mentors I cared about and valued, reconnected with my passion, and brought to light values that I would refuse to compromise, no matter the circumstances. Through this experience I have grown, know who I am, and have a better idea of how to inspire others. I found my voice and what I wanted to say. Without these steps I would not be able to achieve the next and second principle.

The word vision has several definitions. Ranging from the act of seeing to having the ability to see the future, however the most important definition is the one that a leader assigns to it. As leaders we want to make a change and impact others, but we cannot lead our followers if we don’t know where we are going. In addition, the leader must take stock in knowing their followers. It isn’t enough to know their names, where they are from, or base your relationship in the superficial; instead the leader needs to understand their needs, wants, and their expectations. And in turn, don’t forget to share yours with them. Kouzes-Posner reinforces this when they state, “to enlist people in a vision, leaders must know their constituents and speak their language. People must believe that the leaders understand their needs and have their interests at heart” (Kouzes-Posner 2002, p.15). Once the leader takes all these things into consideration a vision can then be formed. The vision should, as Yukl states, convey an image of what can be achieved, why it is worthwhile, and how it can be done (Yukl 2006, p.296). After the vision is formed, it is also very important that the following steps be taken:

1) Involve your constituents
It is important to include your members, regardless of their position. Whether you realize it or not, your decisions can affect everyone in the company or organization, so it’s best to have their opinions from the beginning.

2) Identify objectives or values associated
We don’t have all the answers so this way we are able to hear different perspectives from a diverse grouping of people. This way you can find a shared grouping of values and ideas to reinforce the mission of the organization.

3) Look at past processes and ideas; see if they can still be applied.

4) Ensure that your vision is realistic
If you’re followers believe that the vision can’t be achieved they won’t be fully invested in its success. In addition, if they feel that it’s not challenging enough to be worthwhile they will be difficult to sway as well. The key is to ensure that the vision is realistic, challenging, but achievable at the same time.

5) Consistently refine your vision
A successful vision is flexible and has the ability to evolve over time. As we know the world is constantly shifting and it is important to move with this shift and adapt. By being flexible you will increase not only the effectiveness of your vision, but also the credibility (Yukl 2006, p.300).
If all the steps have been followed you are now ready to continue your journey with the third principle, inspire action.

Take a minute and think about the people who have inspired you in your life. Why were they so inspirational? What about them made them so different from others? How have they impacted your life? As leaders we have the opportunity to inspire change, both good and bad. For example, leaders like Martin Luther King Jr, Ghandi, Cesar Chavez, Rosa Parks, Mother Theresa, and Nelson Mandela have inspired us to embrace equality, diversity, and fighting for what we believe in. Leaders like Hitler, Lenin, Stalin, and Bautista reinforced division among the races, religions, and cultures, and inspired heinous attacks on humanity. What do you want to inspire? To best answer this you have to look at how to inspire action among your constituents. In order to inspire action a leader must first, build trust and encourage team work within the organization. Through collaboration, increased face to face interactions, and team building trust will not only be created between the leader and follower but within each other as well. It is also important to use positive reinforcement and acknowledge all successes, both group and individual. If things do not go as planned it is also important to not berate your followers and instead see all mistakes or losses as learning experiences, also reinforcing mutual trust and support. The second step is to empower your followers and allow them to take ownership in their responsibilities and the group’s success. Learn to delegate, by assigning tasks, followers feel directly invested and involved. Third, allow them to be involved in key-decision making processes (ie; hiring, marketing the organization and sharing information that will impact the company’s future) this will lead to an increase in self-confidence, determination, and effectiveness (Kouzes-Posner 2002, p.281-282). Fourth, train, train, train, and create a climate where your constituents feel like they are consistently learning about the processes, the organization, and each other. My supervisor is truly the King of this principle and I trust him whole heartedly. He consistently empowers me to be involved, shares important information when returning from meetings, praises me for my accomplishments, protects me if things don’t go as to plan according to upper management, and helps us to improve through training and mentoring. No matter how tough of a day I have I know that I can rely on my supervisor to lead me in the right direction. All of these steps and processes may seem lengthy, but they are essential in your effectiveness as a leader, especially the final principle, encouraging the heart.

In looking back at my past and the places I have worked there is a central theme that runs through every experience, this theme is value. In three out of the four jobs I also had amazing managers that treated me with the respect that I deserved, valued my work, supported me professionally and personally, and genuinely cared for my well-being. In their own ways they inspired me to keep climbing no matter the obstacles and to never doubt my abilities. Together we celebrated our victories, identified what we could be doing better, and built relationships that still stand today. All of these things were accomplished because my managers spoke, encouraged, and acted from the heart. It is important that as leaders we act as the cheerleaders to our followers and ensure that they know that their work and commitment are appreciated. Put yourself in your followers shoes, if your work and you are taken for granted consistently would you be motivated to do your job well? No, probably not. As a leader you must be emotionally, mentally, and physically invested in your followers. Otherwise, a leader without followers is merely someone just someone taking a walk.

No one is this world is the same; we are blessed to be different because we bring different perspectives, viewpoints, experiences, and stories to the world table. As leaders we lead in different ways and travel down different roads to reach our destination. No road is better than the other, they are simply different. I have shared with you my leadership philosophy and it is time to starting thinking of your own. You may have completely different approaches to leadership. Just know that no matter what approaches you choose, remember to treat others with respect, value their insight and opinions, celebrate your victories together, and remember that as leaders we are never alone, we just have to be brave enough to invite others along for the journey.

Experience and the Monkey Bars

It has been said that “Getting over a painful experience is much like crossing monkey bars. You have to let go at some point in order to move forward.” Our experiences whether good or bad are the road map to our success. Each experience allows us to celebrate our successes, shows us the mistakes we have made, points out the improvements we can make, and helps us to move on to bigger and better things. Since graduating from the University of Kansas in 2004, I have worked for five different companies specializing in diverse fields. Each position enabled me to learn important skills, improve the talents I already possessed, allowed me to work with a diverse group of people, and aided my ultimate transformation as a leader. To me, a leader was always someone that emulated such values as compassion, honesty, creativity, integrity, morality, credibility, and charisma.  In some of the organizations I had worked for it was sometimes difficult to find leaders whom I could look up to, especially when working in Corporate America where everything is ruled by the all mighty dollar and who can get it first. Additionally difficult were finding opportunities where I could use my leadership skills, it seemed like every time that I tried to suggest new initiatives or leadership approaches, I was turned down and told that it was outside my job responsibilities, and only once I had exceeded those goals could I try to implement my ideas. No matter how stressful things would get I would remind myself that this was a learning process and these experiences would make me a better leader. Since enrolling in this class and re-entering the world of higher education I have realized that all of these experiences have not only transformed me but have steered me to a new path, the path of servant leadership. The purpose of this paper is to explain my journey and understanding of servant leadership with the support of resources from this course. The first step in becoming a servant leader requires that understand what it means to be a servant leader.

As I mentioned previously until this quarter I was relatively inexperienced when it came to servant leadership. During my undergraduate career my professors taught us about leadership theories, concepts, the types of leaders, and helped us as students to find where we fit. Taking those lessons and what I have learned from this course it is my belief that a servant leader is dedicated to serving their communities and improving the lives of those around them. A servant leader is a selfless, loving, compassionate, moral, and unique individual that puts the needs of those around them before their own. Greenleaf stated that servant leaders are servants first and strive to fulfill the highest needs of the people they serve. He also stated people should grow as a result of being served. In working with these individuals bonds are created, trust is built, values are shared, followers emerge, and a new generation of leaders are born. All of these things are created because of an environment that is built on serving the needs of others and doing what is best for those involved. This dedication to serving others and selflessly giving of oneself has always been a large part of what I have believed to be the foundation of a good leader, however putting aside one’s own needs and goals for the betterment of those around them is not always easy. 

Throughout my transformation as a leader I have worked with leaders of all different types, beliefs, backgrounds, and motivations. Each of my manager’s approaches to management taught me a lot about myself, mistakes to avoid, behaviors to adapt, and how to lead effectively. In the corporate world it was more difficult to look up to them as mentors but once I moved back into education I was able to step more readily into a servant leadership role. In working in HigherEd I have the opportunity to mentor, guide, and lead a new generation of leaders as my mentors did for me fulfilling one of the tenets of servant leadership. “Servant leadership focuses on the development of self and other for the purpose of creating mature, responsible individuals, groups and organizations for the purpose of nurturing a more caring and productive society”(Horsman, 2009, p.8). These individuals are a key part in the second step in understanding my transformation as a servant leader as they are whom the servant leader serves.

Working with college students everyday is not always an easy task and as post graduates we can sometimes forget what it was like to be in their shoes, For some post graduates college life is viewed as minimally stressful, as a student main responsibility is to go to class, study, make good grades, and graduate. However on today’s campuses this is easier said that done. Today many college students are working one or more jobs to finance their education, others may be first generation college students having issues being away from their family, not to mention balancing maintaining healthy relationships with friends, family, and partners, fitting in time for class, homework, and extra curricular activities. With all these responsibilities students’ lives can become unbalanced very quickly especially when outside influences like friends, family, or their environment come into play. With all of these factors it is essentially important that I be an effective servant leader. This requires me to be compassionate, open, honest, patient, creative, moral, supportive, and most importantly a good listener. As their Program Director and a leader, I not only plan programs and support the organization I mentor, guide, and will serve them the best that I can. The key is as Greenleaf states, understanding that being a servant leader does not mean one has to fulfil every single request one receives. It means one fulfils the requests that are the most important to a person's wellbeing and development. It is my hope that after I leave Hillel and continue on my path to working in Multicultural Affairs that I have as valuable experiences as I have in working with my students. I am also confident that through my work in serving them and their needs I have been able to plant the seeds of a future generation of leaders and creating what will hopefully be a long legacy. The final step in understanding my transformation as a servant leader is the impact of my past experiences.

As a leader I have been far from perfect. I have been in countless stressful and trying situations and have responded in ways that were not always best. However, despite all of this I continue to remain true to my moral compass. As leaders we are sometimes forced to make difficult decisions that can have a negative impact on those around us. It is our responsibility to ensure that we are acting in a way that works in the best interest of our followers and those around us, this is not always an easy task, especially when those close to you are influencing you in a negative way. Remaining true to one’s morals is essential in being an effective servant leader "living in alignment means that your behavior is consistent with your goals and that your goals are consistent with your moral compass. Living in alignment keeps you on course to accomplish your life purpose and achieve the best possible performance in all your life roles." (p. 38). As leaders were are also not expected to be perfect, although some leaders may seem larger than life, no one can be expected to have the perfect solution or action to every problem they are faced with. The key is as Reyes states “to embrace your shadow and your light as they are each an integral part of each other and who you are as a person.” This idea of healing and letting go is universal with our development as leaders. For adult leaders, healing begins with ourselves, we need to go back and heal those aspects of ourselves that we have denied and put aside earlier in our life (often for very legitimate reasons) before we can grow - sometimes healing and growing happen simultaneously. Then we can authentically and with compassion heal others and organizations.  Until I am able to heal the false self, until I am able to cleanse and bring light into the false self, acknowledge, claim, accept, forgive and love and heal what is there I will not be my true self-so to speak (Keating 2006).  
My experiences, even though some negative and painful, I have taken away several lessons that have strongly influenced my leadership style. First, I learned the importance of leading with respect, dignity, compassion, and patience. All traits the management lacked. Without respect for each other and our abilities true success will never be achieved. Second, management should always be clear and concise in conveying duties and expectations. Third, as leaders it is also important that we never take our followers for granted nor discount their opinions or needs. After all, without followers, a leader is just someone out for a walk. Fourth and finally, as human beings we drive to be successful, loved, happy, financially secure, and healthy.

 As leaders we have some of the same desires. However, if we choose to oppress others or let ourselves be oppressed, these desires can be taken away from us. We know exactly how we don't want to be treated and what type of leader we don't want to have to follow, these feelings are very important and shape how we lead and follow. If you have had a negative experience with an oppressive leader, these experiences are usually hard to forget, we just have to remember not to repeat the actions of the past. And just like the monkey bars, getting over these experiences may be painful, but you have to let go at some point in order to move forward.

About Mariam

Life is sweet

Life is sweet

And they lived happily ever after

And they lived happily ever after

One day a beautiful Jewish girl met a nice Jewish boy and made their mothers very, very, very happy

One day a beautiful Jewish girl met a nice Jewish boy and made their mothers very, very, very happy

About Me

For those of you who know me, writing has always been one of my passions, with the exception of my Masters or any ridiculously long testament within the wide world of Academia. I've only had the pleasure of blogging a couple of times, mostly for a few classes in graduate school, but figured it was time to organize my numerous thoughts and musings with all of you out there in cyber land. I created this page because my mind is always running and often times my thoughts get lost in the hubub. Plus, my friends have always said that I'm a great storyteller, so I'd love to share them now with you. In the meantime, I'll leave you with this... Throughout the past 33 years of my life I've seen, heard, and experienced so many different things as well as had many adventures and dream of so many possibilities. But in short, what it comes down to is this..I'm just a little Jubana trying to make a difference in the world. Everyday I live my life to the fullest and have fun doing it. Life can't always be about work or how much money you make. There's so much more to life than that.