Monday, May 20, 2013

Leadership Education: what difference does it make?

I'm fresh back from my 25th high school reunion.  I attended Culver Military Academy from the fall of 1984 until graduation in the spring of 1988.  For four years, I was part of a school that had a required Leadership Development class.  I learned about decision making, I learned about taking care of those under my direction, and I learned about giving and taking direction for and from others.

One classmate is being considered for promotion to full Colonel in the US Army.  Another wasn't able to attend because he was standing watch with the USCG this weekend.  I have classmates working in Washington, D.C., as congressional aides, classmates who are college professors, classmates who are successful attorneys.  We have classmates working as neuro-oncologists, and dance teachers, and everything in between.

We talked a bit about what our Culver experience did for us.  We found that, as a result of being schooled in leadership and self-discipline principals early, we were much better prepared for college than a great many others of our age.  We knew how to manage time, how to prioritize projects, and how to interact with professors.

I find myself these days wanting to learn more about leadership. It isn't that I've forgotten, although there is 25 years worth of cobwebs spun since I was a cadet.  It's that I'd gotten out of the habit of personal renewal.  I'd stopped learning anything new, and had become stagnant.

Why change now?  Well, I fell in with some people who are working in Leadership Development, and they've been forming a community of like-minded people.  People who want to make a difference in themselves, and ultimately in others.  What intrigued me so much?  I used to be one of those people.  I used to want to make a difference in myself, and ultimately in others.  It's why I became a teacher, right?  Then life happens and we start to numb our passions in order to meet our obligations.  We listen to our own excuses and stifle our own dreams.  We wake up, and a 25-year overnight has happened and we have no idea how we got to where we are, because it isn't where we wanted to be.  We became the water, rather than the wind, and went where we were supposed to go rather than where we wanted.

How do you make a difference in yourself and ultimately in others if you've paved over the meadow of your soul in order to build a parking lot of mediocrity?  It isn't easy, and it's  easier than you can imagine.  It's information.  What information did I have coming out of the Academy?  I knew how and when to act, and I knew how to think.

Now?  LIFE happens!  Those people I "fell in with" have reminded me of who I was, what was important to me, and most importantly, inspired me to renew my passion for making a difference in the lives of others.  Those old passions are tingly as they wake up from being underneath everything.  The more I engage in leadership information, the more convinced I am that I AM the change the world needs.  All it takes is information.  I'm not in school anymore, so I have learned to apply a system to my self-study, and I have learned to ask for help from those who have the results I'm looking for.  The future is no longer a gray, uncertain area.  It's clear where I want to go, and I have directions to guide me there.  The only variable is time.