...causes ripples that you don't have control over once you say it - for good or for bad.
Here's an example of the good...
A student whom I had contact with many years ago popped up on my Facebook account and left me a short message. It basically said:
"Remember that time we sat down and talked about how I should best be using my time. I thought about that again today and it is helping me with an important decision. Thanks!"
I was a bit humbled and taken aback by the message. I can remember a lot of conversations with people that have helped to shape me, made a positive impact on me, helped me in my situations. But here was somebody else recalling something I said that is helping them.
I must admit that I had a kind of good news/bad news reaction when I read it. The bad news first - I don't for the life of me remember having this conversation with this student. The good news - Remember it or not, it had a positive and LASTING impact on this person.
Here's what I'm taking away from this experience:
1. I may not remember everything I say, but somebody might.
2. I need to be saying the kinds of things that people might thank me for later.
3. I'll never truly know the impact that my words and actions will have - the ripples that flow from each experience.
4. I need to send a couple of notes to thank some people who've spoken wisdom into my life.
5. Facebook is a great way to connect and reconnect.
Those are great words to hear aren't they?
When you finish a big project.
When you finish a long race.
When you finish a series of posts on student leadership.
When you finish a great student leadership year.
Here's a secret that ties this whole thing together. When you finish a GREAT student leadership year, you'll quickly realize that you couldn't have accomplished it ALL BY YOURSELF. You needed help. You needed other people. And what is true for you is true for those around you. They need someone, somebodys, anybodys - to come alongside them and help them reach their potential.
Each of the ideas in this series is provided as a way for you to BE THE PERSON who helps someone else have a GREAT year. When you do that, you increase your influence and impact on that person. That way, when they consider what kind of student leader you are, they'll say you're a STUD because of how much you helped them, encouraged them, served them, and made them better.
Think about it...If you are going to be a student leader, don't you want be a GREAT one?
Here's the last 7 ideas for you to put into practice...
29. Leave the position better than you found it.
As you serve in your position, you will make things easier or harder for the person who follows you in this position. If you take the time to create a new filing system to store old records, or develop a better relationship with another part of your organization, or keep track of all the phone numbers you needed throughout the year - that will be something the next person DOESN'T have to do. Look at it this way, if there's anything that is easy to do in your position at this point, it is probably because someone before you paid the price of hard work so you wouldn't have to. If you do this, next year's student leader will look back on your time with gratitude and good feelings.
30. Show respect to adults, mentors, advisors, administrators, and teachers.
You are in your position for one year. But the adults that you work with probably stay in their same position year in and year out. They've seen a lot of student leaders come and go. One of the ways that you can distinguish yourself above the others is by being respectful. This doesn't mean you have to agree with everything. But you understand that this is these people's JOBS. Whatever their motivation, they are in this position because they want to invest in the lives of students. They probably have a lot of experience. Don't be frustrated by their cynicism of your new idea. They've seen it before in one form or another. Listen to their hesitancy and show them why your version will work. If you come at it with an "us against them" mindset, you'll only make it difficult on yourself.
31. Keep your cool. Be consistent.
There will be a lot of things that you can get mad about during your student leader year. But responding in anger usually makes a situation more difficult. If you can stay calm and keep a level head in those tense moments, you'll be better equipped to RESPOND to the situation rather than REACT. When you burst out in anger, you take away any chance of getting a response out of the other people involved. If people know that you will be consistent in your emotions through a variety of circumstances (both good and bad), they will be more willing to hear what you have to say and respect your leadership. If you take them on an emotional rollercoaster ride every day, they'll always be looking for the quickest exit.
32. Leave well.
Every student leader leaves. Every student leadership year comes to an end. The question is how will you leave (and when)? When you leave well, you finish what you've started. You have done your best. You walk away with no regrets. When you leave well, people want to celebrate what you've done.
33. Be a team player. Create high team morale.
If you've read most of the 35 ideas I've listed for you, then you know that ONE is too small a number for greatness. What I mean is - you can't do anything significant by yourself. We need other people and other people need us. Your team depends on you and you must depend on your team. Allow your people to do what they need to do. Trust is the glue that holds any team together. Are you doing whatever it takes to make the members of your team better? Your team will be much more effective if they enjoy being a team. Morale is a great motivator. When success comes, point to your team. When failure happens, take it upon yourself to do better.
34. Make your people feel more important than your projects.
When you step into a student leadership position there will be certain tasks that you are required to do. If you do all of those tasks yourself, you will be doing the work of a student worker. If you get other people involved you will be moving in the direction of becoming a student leader. As a student leader, help your people feel special. They won't be as motivated by the idea of helping you get your work done. People are more important than tasks. Develop a relationship with them and show them how they are valued for more than just the work they do.
35. Raise up potential leaders. Reproduce yourself.
Do you want to create a legacy of positive leadership that will live on after you've gone? Then invest in others who have the capacity and potential to step into your position when you leave. Take the time to mentor someone. Take what you've learned from your experience and pass it on to someone else. Share your resources. Tell someone that you believe in them and can see their potential. Give them opportunities to lead under your direction and nurturing.
Now it's time to move into action. Don't just read this list of 35 ideas and nod your head. Get out there and prove to the world that you are a great student leader.
Did you miss the other parts of this list? Follow the links to read all 35.
You can't force people to follow you. That's not leadership. That's dictatorship.
As a student leader, you have access to a lot of really cool and meaningful opportunities to fully express your influence and engage in an adventure with your peers. But that doesn't happen if you aren't relevant.
Here's the question...again...
If you are going to be a student leader, don't you want be a GREAT one?
So now I'm going to continue to feed you some fairly easy, but revolutionarily (I just made that word up) effective ways to raise your influence (and relevance) as a student leader.
15. Keep your promises.
One of the easiest things to do as a student leader is to make a promise. People are wary of a campaign promise because it never moves past the "making" phase. Keep your word. If you make a promise, then do the hard work to manage and follow through on that promise. One of the best ways to prove to people that they can trust you is to be trustworthy. At the core of trustworthiness is the ability to do what you've promised to do. If you don't think you can keep a promise, don't make it in the first place.
16. Set your personal expectations higher.
You'll quickly notice that everyone has certain expectations for you as a student leader. Expectations will come from people like your advisor, your team, your peers, your teachers, your coaches, your parents. Everyone has some idea of what you're capable of and how much you will accomplish (and how much you should accomplish for them). So here's the trick to getting around that: Don't worry about everyone else's expectations of you -- just set your personal expectations higher than everyone else's. That way, you won't have to worry about being labeled as mediocre, or average, or unreliable. You'll blow people away because you've set your own standard...and you set it higher.
17. Possess a positive, abundance mentality.
You are constantly going to bump into people who feel like there is never enough time, never enough resources, never enough capability present in the room. And since they feel that way, they are going to scramble to make sure they get what's theirs before everyone else does. But if you want to be a student leader who stands above the fray, keep your attitude positive and work from a sense of abundance. Be generous and optimistic. Don't try to guard your territory or keep everything you know a secret. Share your resources and help others succeed.
18. Get involved in making the world a better place.
Ultimately, you were given gifts, strengths, talents, abilities, smarts, skills...you get the idea...not to make yourself better - but so you can be actively engaged in bettering the world. The best student leaders find ways to get involved in their community, fight for social justice, and right the wrongs caused by poverty and inequality. And those experiences are then incorporated into the fabric of your leadership. And you know what they give you? Perspective. Compassion. Heart. People like to see that in their leaders.
19. Be present.
When other students are talking to you, look them in the eye and listen. When you're in a meeting, don't keep checking your email. Work hard at being as fully present wherever you are at. Notice what's going on around you. The world is full of people whose bodies are in the room but their mind is somewhere else. Take the headphones out of your ears when you walk across campus - they make you appear unapproachable. Make people feel like they are the center of your attention when you are with them. The best way to do that is to make them the center of your attention when you are with them.
20. Keep short accounts.
What I'm suggesting here is that you travel as lightly as possible. This means that you don't carry around the baggage of grudges, hard feelings, unresolved conflict, misunderstandings, anger, bitterness, and all of the stuff like that. It will eat you up inside. Do you want to be as effective as possible? Then learn to forgive people. When you forgive someone, it releases all of those things that I just listed that can tear away at your heart, mind, and soul. This means that there may be times that you need to forgive yourself as well. You have too much potential, too many great things you want to do to be carrying around that stuff with you. And when you forgive people, they'll be more willing to forgive you.
21. See situations from a variety of perspectives.
For all of the knowledge and wisdom and experience you have in you - yours is only ONE perspective. Two people can see the same thing and come away with two different stories. That's because you don't see the world as it is - you see the world as YOU are. When you need to make a decision seek out other people's perspectives. Change the way you are looking at something. You'll learn and your world will expand and you'll increase the odds of making a good decision. Don't surround yourself with people who think like you...you already know how you think. Find people that can offer you a whole new way of looking at the world. And your world will get a whole lot bigger.
Only 14 more to go. I've already got them written down. I can't wait to share them with you. If you missed the first 14, then follow the links below.
Are you making the most of your opportunities as a student leader?
The key question to this series is this: If you are going to be a student leader, don't you want be a GREAT one?
This series provides practical and easy-to-implement ideas that will raise your leadership above the ordinary. Do you want people to refer to you as a "stud" of a student leader or one who is merely "stuck?"
Here's the next seven suggestions:
8. Keep learning.
I'll let you in on a little secret: People aren't impressed with know-it-alls. They do like to follow leaders who are growing, developing, and learning on a consistent basis. If you continually make the same mistakes over and over, you aren't learning. When people understand that you are making a serious attempt to learn something, they'll appreciate your effort and your humility. Here it is in a nutshell: Stop learning and you stop leading.
9. Make people feel special in the first minute you talk to them.
It could be a compliment. It might be a question about something that is going on in their life. It is anything that lets someone else know that you consider them to be important and significant. You have the ability to encourage or discourage in the first 60 seconds of your conversation. You have a chance to create something memorable or ordinary. People may not remember everything you said, but they will remember how you made them feel.
10. End conflict quickly.
As a student leader, you only have a year in your position. You don't have time to carry emotional baggage around and avoid people because of tension from conflict. If something comes up between you and someone else, get it taken care of and move on. Letting things fester or go unresolved only makes matters worse. It will tend to spread to others as they begin to take sides and form camps around the conflict. Conflict doesn't tend to go away on it's own. Be the leader and be intentional in resolving issues as quickly as possible.
11. Give credit to others.
Since you're in a student leadership position, people may naturally want to praise you when something goes well. One of the best ways to motivate others is to deflect the praise you receive on to the people you lead. Don't hog the spotlight. Pass the credit on to those who helped make things happen. Your followers will appreciate the attention and be more motivated to work with excellence on the next project that comes along. As the leader, you don't "need" the credit, you "need" your people to be the best they can be. You'll be amazed how much more they'll respect your leadership when you focus on them during those moments when you might have the right to focus on yourself.
12. Help someone else be successful. Help someone win.
Everyone wants to be the best they can be. But it's difficult to do it on our own. As a student leader, your greatest success will come when your people are successful. Your followers define your leadership. If you help someone else on your team do well - then you do well. You will reach "stud-like" status when you help those around you to be better than they would be without you around. Think about this: If they're not better with you around, then why would they want you around?
13. Solve a problem no one wants to solve.
Leaders are by nature problem solvers. If there's a problem that no one wants to tackle and you take it on and solve it - you are now irreplaceable. Everyday, people sign up for the easy tasks and the simple jobs. But it's the student leader who stands up to the challenge that no one else wants that learns, grows, and has the opportunity to move ahead of the pack.
14. Mentor someone else.
When you mentor someone, you pour your life and learning into them. You might be tempted to only get involved in those things that draw the attention or recognition of a lot of people. But those things don't offer the depth of relationship that a mentoring relationship does. Do you realize that everything you know, you learned from someone else? Mentors have the opportunity to make life-changing differences in those whom they invest in. Choose one or two people that you can pour your life into and you'll find that you learn and grow as much as they do in the process.
Is there one item from this list that you can implement immediately?
When I hear outstanding student leaders being described, there's one adjective that always catches my attention.
He's a STUD! (STUD-ETTE for you fabulous women out there)
This descriptive word has come to mean some very positive characteristics:
Do you know a student leader like this?
Are you a student leader like this?
It's easy to become just another student leader who goes through the motions and does what's required. But every once in awhile a student leader shows up who rises above the rest. A student leader with "stud-like" characteristics and capabilities.
I guess the question is: If you're going to be a student leader, don't you want to be a GREAT one?
I'm going to spend the next five posts sharing some ideas and practical ways that a student leader can distance himself or herself from the mundane, mediocre, ordinary, standard, run-of-the-mill students that miss out on the opportunities for greatness available to everyone.
Here's the first seven...
1. Find Your Zone and Zone In.
People recognized something special and unique in you when you were elected or selected for your student leadership position. You have a "gift." Now it's time to work with that gift and use it for the benefit of others. You have strengths and talents that are wonderfully yours. Don't worry about those things that you're not good at. Find someone else to do those things. You need to be intentionally adding value to your organization and others through those things that you do best. You'll know when you're in the zone. You feel energized. You enjoy your work. People think you're better than you actually are. Focus on your zone and it will make others turn their head and say, "WOW!"
2. Listen - "Can You Hear Me Now?".
The greatest communication skill of a leader is the ability to listen. You already know what you think, how you feel, what your own opinion is. Now it's time to tap into the perspective of someone else. When you listen well, people think you're more intelligent, more caring, more knowledgeable, and more friendly. One of the greatest needs that people have is the need to be listened too. It calms conflicts, it reduces tension, it helps people heal, and it makes someone feel like they're significant.
3. Do FEW things really well.
Which is better: to accomplish 8 things that people would consider a "3" on a scale of 1-10; or accomplish 3 things that people would consider an "8"? People are impressed by excellence. Mediocrity is so average that others don't even recognize it. A great illustration of this is juggling. I can juggle 3 balls pretty well. People watch me juggle 3 balls and they think, "Wow, he's a good juggler." But the moment you throw that fourth ball into the mix, there are balls all over the floor. Over and over, I drop the balls. When people see this they think, "Man...we need to find ourselves a new juggler." It's your call. You can say "yes" to a lot of things or just a few things. But the more you carry, the more you dilute your chances of being excellent.
4. You're dead if you miss deadlines.
When you, as a student leader, agree to a deadline, you are making a promise. When you miss your deadline, you aren't keeping your promise. Deadlines are typically necessary because other people are relying on the work you are doing. Deadlines are expectations that work will be done. If you want to impress people, get your work done before a stated deadline. The time to negotiate a deadline is when you're creating or accepting it. Push it out a bit further and then turn your stuff in early. People will think you're amazing, organized, disciplined, dependable, and a valued member of the team.
5. Make sure people are "in the know."
For most people, the ability to predict the future with 100% accuracy is only a wish that will never come true. Life has a way of happening. Circumstances mess up the best strategies and plans. When you find yourself with an unforeseen obstacle, let somebody know. If you're going to be a little late - tell someone. If you've got a problem, be honest about it. When your list of "If's" starts growing...make sure you're communicating. The worst thing that a student leader can do is to withdraw, thinking that she can handle everything on her own. When people are kept in the loop, then they're not surprised. People like surprises for birthdays and holidays. But they don't like surprises when all of a sudden you've blindsided them with your inability to meet expectations or commitments. The rule of thumb is: as soon as you know let someone else know.
6. Think about your thinking.
You might be saying, "I think all the time." But that's not the kind of thinking I mean here. I'm encouraging you to reflect, meditate, evaluate, and learn from your thinking. One of the roles of a student leader is to solve problems. But it's not easy to solve problems if you don't take the time to think about the problems. Thinking allows you to view things from a variety of perspectives. It helps you to consider multiple options. It actually makes you smarter. Don't think (ha!) for a minute that your first impression, your first response will always be your best response. Sometimes, those student leaders who fly by the seat of their pants find that they have to kick themselves in that same seat because they didn't take time to think. Build thinking time into your schedule. When people ask you a serious question, tell them that you need time to think about your response before giving it. They'll appreciate the effort you're putting in to give them a significant answer.
7. Prepare like you're going to perform.
Preparation is vital to a quality performance. When people see an athlete perform at a high level, they applaud, cheer, and hold the athlete in high regard. What they typically don't see is the time and energy the athlete spent in preparation for his performance. The excellence displayed on the field or on the court is the result of training and practicing with excellence in mind. A student leader can't expect to merely show up and perform at a high level. If a student leader wants to deliver an excellent speech, than he must prepare for that. If a student leader wants to oversee an excellent meeting, then she must prepare for that. If a student leader wants others to buy into the guiding values of the team or organization, then there must be time spent in preparation. A quote by Benjamin Franklin is appropriate here - "By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail."
In the next post, I'll tackle the next 7 ways (#8-14) you can put the "stud" in student leader.
Flickr Credit: kensaviation
Wondering how to add value to someone you know?
#7. Strive to be the first to help a person whom you know in need.
Sometimes we can be at the right place, at the right time, for someone who needs our assistance! You know when those moments happen and you act on them, most of the time! Have you ever reached to the top shelf for an elderly lady at the grocery store and graciously smiled when she thanked you? If yes, you most certainly made her feel valued! Keep your eyes and heart open for ways to be helpful in your family and your community. Making another person feel valued will make you feel valued as well!
Want to read more great ideas that will move you into action toward adding value to others?
Download 103 Ways To Add Value To People!
SOMETHING TO THINK ABOUT: How do you feel when you're the first to reach out and help someone?
SOMETHING TO TALK ABOUT: What is something you can be first at today?
: : : :
Student Leadership Trainer & Tool Maker
Looking for ways to add value to those around you?
You've come to the right place. Here's the adding value tip of the week.
#11. Offer the unexpected, anonymous gift.
Bring coffee to your coworkers. Arrive to work early and leave a small gift on someone's office chair. Leave a gift card on someone's windshield. I love this one...balloons are my signature surprise; it is a joyful and very visual way to celebrate someone you value. For a few dollars you could flood someone's office or dorm room with helium balloons and uplift their mood and “value quotient”.
Want to read more great ideas that will move you into action toward adding value to others?
Download 103 Ways To Add Value To People!
SOMETHING TO THINK ABOUT: Do you have to spend a lot of money to make someone feel special?
SOMETHING TO TALK ABOUT: What are your favorite, anonymous gifts to give?
: : : :
Student Leadership Trainer & Tool Maker
In order to be fair and balanced, I think we need a good lesson in how to demotivate people. It'll do their over-sized egos some good. Toughen up the masses.
Besides, recent studies show that we're spending WAY too much time trying to boost everyone's self-esteem. So let's step back a bit from the compliment and think more in line with containment.
I really think it might catch on. When was the last time your heard of a conference where they brought in demotivational speakers who gave demotivational advice? The goal would be to bring everything down to the lowest common denominator. The theme could be - United & Conformed: We Are The Weakest Links!
Do you know people who are too excited and too positive? Why not spend some time demotivating them. Here's just a few suggestions:
* Give them MEANINGLESS work.
Nothing says, "You're not important" more than assigning the mundane tasks to the same person over and over again.
* Set expectations extremely low or too high to reach.
And if they get too close to the high ones, sabotage their results.
* Ask them to do things you haven't trained them for.
I love a good POP QUIZ. Keeps the troops on their toes. Let the creative one in your bunch spend an afternoon running the accounting department. C'mon...it'll be fun!
* Don't just reward one person, reward everyone the same...no matter how much one person worked to pull the thing off.
Equality rules. Overachieving drools. If one person works too hard, it makes all the mediocre ones look bad.
* Charge your people for everything.
Paperclips, toilet paper, even their office space. Nothing says you're part of the company more than being nickled and dimed by the company.
* Only talk to them when they do something wrong.
Because if they do something right, there's plenty of other people to pat them on the back. Why do they need to hear that from their leader? You should only show your face when they screw up. That way, they'll respect you more...or something like that.
* Forget their name...or better yet, keep calling them by a different name that sounds similar.
Look how cool James Bond is! His people called him by a number. He always had to go around telling people his name...Bond...James Bond. That's cool. Why not call the people in your organization by a number. "Employee #32, please come here and see me...you've screwed up again!"
* Claim the credit for your organization's success. You're the boss. You deserve it.
You made it happen. You're in charge. Everyone below you exists for your success. If you take all the credit, nobody gets overconfident. Just make sure you point out the people who messed up when things go bad. Why would you want to take credit for that?
As I look back over this list, I'm surprised more people haven't caught on to this. I mean, this is why the television show: The Office is so popular...right? I'm just saying...
SOMETHING TO THINK ABOUT: How have you demotivated someone today?
SOMETHING TO TALK ABOUT: How have you felt demotivated in your situation?
: : : :
Student Leadership Trainer & Tool Maker
[photo credit: Despair, Inc]
We recently published the FREE downloadable Ebook - 103 Ways To Add Value To People. If you haven't downloaded the Ebook yet, take a moment to watch this video. You will be inspired to see various ways you can add value to others. Then download the Ebook.