The Need to Lead

Four years ago I received an email asking if anyone was interested in helping out with an after school program. At the time, I thought, why not. I need a little extra money, and how hard will it be. I enjoy teaching and being around kids, so what’s an extra hour and a half after school?

I had no idea what the program was- so when I signed up I was told I would be doing a club called, Leadership.

I chuckled on the inside because I don’t consider myself a leader- in fact I saw myself as an ordinary, scared, quiet person. Fake it til’ you make it, was my strategy that first year of teaching it.

I thought it went pretty well- we hosted a campus clean up, visited Road Runner Food Bank, invited distinguished leaders in our community to speak to the club.

After the second year of teaching the club, I felt that it needed something a little more. I saw need. These kids were hungry for some kind of way to get connected to their peers, with their teachers, and with the community- even if they don’t say those exact words, I knew they needed something.

As I researched about Leadership and Leadership Clubs, Student Council kept appearing. I found the New Mexico Association of Student Council website and thought- Why don’t we have a Student Council here at our school?

I emailed my Principal and the After School Activities Director and they told me to go for it.

This is my second year at trying to teach, guide and lead these students to create a Student Council that will leave a positive impact for our school and community.

Let me tell you- it’s not easy. Not only is there obstacles to overcome, I have very little money, and very little time to invest in order to make this Council what I believe to be AWESOME!

After our weekend escapade to Farmington, New Mexico, to attend the State Conference, I reflected a lot about the word Leadership.

I sat in the stands with my members and listened to some amazing Key Note Speakers about life, hardships, teamwork, and of course leadership. One particular speaker, known as The Amazing Tei Street, spoke a lot about being amazing. There was one point in her talk where she asked the audience to remember a time where someone spoke ill words to them. A time where someone “close” spoke those words. She then asked them to be brave and courageous- to be vulnerable in a safe place- and to share those words with the rest of the assembly. I was shocked and mortified. I was amazed at how many of our kids shared those words with us. I heard stuff like, “You’re stupid” “You’re ugly” “You suck” “I don’t want you around” “You’re fat” “You’re too sensitive” “You’re a mess” “I hate you” “Go kill yourself” “You’re weird” and you get the picture.

I of course thought about the words spoken to me as a child from someone close to me- ” You’re worthless” “You’re so stupid” “You can’t do anything right” “What is wrong with you.” And just recently words like “You’re too nice” “You’re not family” “You’re a hypocrite.”

What I realized at that particular moment is how powerful words really are- I mean, not just some cliche about the power of words, but the internal transformation they have for each and every single one of us.

You see, we do internalize the words that are spoken to us. We can preach it and tell ourselves that words don’t hurt, but they do.

I grew up thinking I was stupid and not worthy. So I gave myself to men. I wanted to feel loved and worthy and for some stupid reason that was what I did to try and satisfy the desire to be something to someone.

And that is exactly what our youth are doing as well- trying to satisfy their desire to feel loved, accepted and cherished. To know that they belong.

I sat their listening to the speaker tell these kids that they were amazing. I think we need to tell the people in our lives just that. That they are amazing. Not out of obligation of course, but to let the people around us know that they are loved, cherished and accepted.

So what does this have to do with leadership? EVERYTHING!

Leadership is about stepping up to the plate when called. It doesn’t matter if you strike out, it doesn’t matter if you only get to first base, it doesn’t matter if you walk to first base, it doesn’t matter if you hit a home run, and it certainly doesn’t matter what the score is.

What matters is that you are part of a team. Leadership is not a solo gig- it has nothing to do with ego.

What matters is that you encourage your teammates to be the best they can be. Leadership is about empowering others- not enabling.

What matters is that you give your everything when it is your turn to step to the plate- Leadership is about being all in- it is not halfway.

What matters is that you give a helping hand to someone who needs it- Leadership is about service- it is not about winning or being right at what ever the cost.

What matters is that you forgive your teammates and encourage them when they fail- Leadership is really about unconditional love.

With keeping with my Baseball Analogy, the crowd, the spectators, and the people who are close to us, will criticize, will shout words of discouragement, will question our strategies, and of course complain.

There is a great quote in Brene Brown’s book, Daring Greatly:

“It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly… who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly.” – Theodore Roosevelt

When we step up to leadership of any kind- there will be complaints, criticism, and discouragement.

Life is funny isn’t it? Just a few years ago I never thought of myself as a leader. Suddenly I have an urge, a need to want to lead. It is true that I have NO CLUE what I am really doing with the Student Council at my school, and yes, it probably could be more awesome than it is right now, but I answered the call. I said, “Why not? I’ll do it.” And sometimes that is all it takes. Leadership is not a HUGE GRAND PRODUCTION, it’s just about being willing.

Our second Key Note Speaker- Sean Ritchel. He teaches at Atrisco Heritage. His message was how to turn our negative thoughts into positive action. Check him out when you get a chance, a true leader.

One thought on “The Need to Lead

  1. alicethompsonspeaks says:

    We need more people like you in the world. There is a big difference between being a leader and being in charge, and you my friend defined what it means to be a leader. I’m a teacher and I can just feel the positive change you’re making with those kids. We really appreciate people like you who are willing to step up to the plate to take the lead in activities with kids. Keep it up!


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