The following is an assignment for my class called Leadership in Digital Contexts. This is a multi-step credo project. First, we identified words describing our leadership style. I chose enthusiasm, confidence, and kindness. Second, we outlined in map-form significant times in our life that led us to those three particular words. Third, and that’s the part below, we framed our words and experiences into a story via essay, video, slideshow or blog post. My choice was clear ;)
I never considered myself passionate about anything—well, anything that could be turned into a career anyway. The infamous “What do you want to be when you grow up?” question wasn’t something I pondered over much until senior year of high school when college apps became a thing.
I thought I’d become an educator, a really cool teacher who inspired kids to be great the way Hilary Swank did in that movie Freedom Writers. Yeah, I wanted that.
During my first semester of college, I realized I didn’t really want that. I told everyone who’d ask I’m an undecided major and thinking about the education program (thinking about not pursuing it, that is). It wasn’t until an Expository Writing tutoring session with a substitute tutor that I finally started to lean toward something and not merely away from the math and sciences.
It was a simple question, something along the lines of, “What do you like?” So I said basketball. That’s never the expected answer, seeing as the inquirer usually doesn’t know me well, save for maybe my name and that I’m a Muslim girl who likes to wear black scarves a lot.
The conversation continued and I mentioned I wrote about the Knicks for my high school paper that needed writers. My substitute tutor made me realize for the first time: no one forced me to write. It’s something I did on my own. Heck, maybe I even liked it. I tried my luck at sending my favorite magazine, SLAM, a letter. I said I was confused and didn’t know what to do with my life, but I knew I could at least look forward to the magazine once a month. I got a response from an editor, and here and there SLAM printed a few of my letters.
As I sent in more letters, I realized yes, I like writing. A lot. You can tell, I’m sure. This piece is already way too lengthy, and I hardly covered my first credo word: enthusiasm. Enthusiasm! Exclamation points are enthusiastic! It sounds strange, but realizing I was actually enthusiastic about something was sort of a revelation for me. As college went on, I discovered more topics I was enthusiastic about, and life in general got a little more exciting.
Enthusiasm is a spirit I’d want alive and well among the members of my online domain. Exclamation points help like I said, but taking interest in others’ work by sharing, liking, commenting—all that helps too. Twitter is one of those aforementioned “topics” I discovered I’m enthusiastic about, and I’d hope to utilize the micro-blogging tool to encourage interactivity and excitement about whatever topics my team writes. Hashtags and tweeting with other members of the group give a “rush of human engagement” my professor, Dr. Chayko, mentions in the linked article.
Running with this writing idea, I stumbled on the Journalism and Media Studies major at Rutgers. In my first class with the department, I struggled. I wasn’t used to this inverted pyramid writing style, giving away the most juicy information in the first paragraph. Interviewing people I didn’t know and going out to cover events and news was a whole new world for me. My comfort zone was nowhere in sight, and my lack of confidence felt like it was on display. Oh hey, that’s my second word: confidence.
I was never the friendliest person in a college classroom. I felt like I didn’t belong at times. How could I pursue journalism if I was too shy to talk to people? I never let that thought nest in my head too long though…how in the world would I be able to find another major? It was all too much to think about.
I saw my peers in the journalism program speaking out, snagging internships, getting published. They were all doing something. They met cool people and landed interviews with professionals I considered celebrities. Upon telling this to an advisor/professor in the department, he said,
“You underestimate yourself.”
I’ve written about this before, and it’s something I needed to include in my credo story. To quote another amazing professor,
“Ahem. You’ve got game. Why not show it?”
KNOW THAT. As a potential leader, I will make sure my team members know they’re capable of succeeding. Turn that frown upside down, get enthusiastic about the task, and realize you have what it takes to get ‘er done—and get ‘er done well! Sharing some kind and genuine words will boost both confidence and morale, and who wouldn’t want that type of person as a team member? When my professors said/wrote these words to me, they stuck and made me actually believe in my skills and abilities. I want to make it clear to my future team I believe in them, and they should believe in themselves too, because they’re pretty darn great.
Last but not least, kindness. I love nice people. One day I was at a mosque in a town where my sister lives, far from our home in New Jersey. I walked in for the prayer service without my sister, and yet all the people came to greet me with a handshake/hug—though I’d never seen them before in my life. They welcomed me, and that usually doesn’t happen, anywhere. You say hi to people you know. When someone else walks through the door, you look up and then back down to whatever it was you were searching up on your smartphone.
I don’t want my team to end up being a bunch of people who only work together. I want us to care for one another and be kind. A lot of thank-yous, but none expected. Genuine and meaningful compliments of appreciation, but no fake flattery. This is all to create a positive environment in which people feel comfortable, important, and happy! These are the habits I noticed while working with the editors at SLAM. I’d want to model my leadership on their calm, cool, casual, and kind methods of communicating with one another, approaching stories, and publishing posts.
So this is my story, on a blog-friendly page. I linked to some other posts discussing these episodes in my life throughout as well. I realized while working on this project I already told my story to the Internet through this blog, and I continue to do so every time I post something new. Still, piecing together a ~1,000 word story specifically on my three credo words feels wonderful. I think this page is here to stay.