One of the five competencies of the University Honors Program is Leadership. Leadership is the ability to influence and inspire a group of people and turning the group into a single unit which amplifies everyone's strengths and minimized weaknesses. A major mission on my way to become a Global Citizen Scholar and achieve my dream is to become an effective leader. And that is precisely what Leadershape Institute, a 6-day workshop/retreat, is meant for - to show us the path to becoming effective leaders.
The approach taken by Leadershape to make us understand the building blocks of a leader was interesting and effective. They take a brief definition of what constitutes a leader, break it apart into pieces, and expand each piece over the course of an entire day so that we have a complete picture. Each day brought insight into a new dimension of life, forcing us to think about things in ways we never thought existed. The key takeaway was as simple as putting all the pieces gained throughout the course of the week together (which is much easier said than done).
Perhaps the most interesting day for me was the day we were talking about the term "Vision". One of the most compelling attributes of a good leader is ambition, and only a person with an ambition mission can become a good leader. A Vision to realize, a mission to complete, these are great motivators. They drive a person and their actions like nothing else can. A leader needs to be driven towards a goal, only then can he inspire others to follow him on his campaign.
I found this particularly interesting because I have always considered myself to be a very ambitious person. I often think about where I could be 5-10 years in the future, and those scenarios are sometimes not very realistic. But on this day, we had to think about a specific personal vision that we always have wanted to see realized. So unlike the other occasions when I used to dream about my future, this one had to be a little more realistic, specific and organized, so that I can easily convey it. This was followed by an activity, which made us write a news article that would be published when our vision would be realized, and the news article would describe the achievement. Here is the article I wrote.
Aside from the main objective, one important aspect of the whole experience was getting to know more like-minded people and talking about ideas, thoughts and feelings. On the very first day, we were told that to truly develop self, we need to stretch out of our comfort zone and try out new things, until those new things become our comfort zone. For me, this is exactly what happened throughout the week.
Being a socially anxious person, the level of social exposure was something I have only experienced once in a similar workshop 4 years ago, and I was not very happy with my attempts at socializing. So going into Leadershape was a little tough for me. But in Leadershape, we were divided into what we called "Family clusters", which was a group of 6 or 7 students and a faculty member. And I am very grateful that everyone in my family cluster accepted me for who I am, helped me throughout the week in stretching myself out of my comfort zone, and allowed me to help them similarly.
But that was not the limit of social interaction I was exposed to. We had multiple pair and group discussion sessions, often with random people, and we enjoyed many games and activities, all of which really broke the ice between us. Perhaps the most enjoyable aspect of the entire week was the late-night games that we students played. Those late nights forced me to get out of my fortress of solitude and connect with like-minded people on various levels. I am looking forward to seeing how these new relationships I have forged carry out of the workshop and develop into something greater.