Course Description: “This course is focused on a strengths-based approach to leadership and leadership development as well as the skills necessary for good leadership. Opportunities to understand and practice essential skills such as continual learning, powerful communication, problem-solving, managing process, goal achievement, conflict resolution, win-win negotiating, and empowering stewardship are woven throughout the course. Training additional leaders is also a key topic. Effective leadership practice – through emphasis on strengths development – is the goal of this class. ”
How this Course Impacted my Leadership & Core Values:
Reflecting on this course, I was at a crossroads in understanding and appreciating myself for who I truly am at my core, and how others saw me. This is something I was confronted with by my Leadership 311 and 322 courses in similar but distinct ways. In LDRS311, I became more aware of those around me and focused my efforts in accepting how others see me, even if that may not be completely thought out or correct. In my LDRS322 course, which I took in Spring 2016 (before LDRS311), I was more focused on understanding who I am, where I am going, and where I have come from in my journey and experiences.
At Azusa Pacific University, nearly every student has taken the Gallup Strengths Finder evaluation. Personally, I have taken this twice with results that have shifted from being relational to analytical. Top strengths I’d had before were nowhere even close to being in my Top 5 anymore and I was worried that maybe something had gone wrong inside me – that I was broken and would never find meaningful connections or relationships because of how analytical I had become. I now believe, however, my current strengths are an accurate representation of who I am and how I work and interact with others. To my surprise and delight, being more analytical did not mean I would never create deep connections with others, and in fact, understanding myself and my new strengths in light of the loss and suffering my family has faced, allowed me to create deeper and more personal relationships than I ever would have, had I stayed in the more relational domain.
Moreover, my new strengths taught me a great deal about how I am affected by change and who I have grown to be. Specifically looking at my top strength, Intellection, I am enthralled by new philosophic thoughts and pursuits, pondering the abstract and the conceptual (Rath, 2007). Regarding Achiever, I am dedicated to hard work that is meaningful, valuable, and done to the highest degree of perfection and excellence (Rath, 2007). Next, Input demonstrates my longing and desire to know as much as I can about as many things as I can. I want to be informed, and I file tidbits, facts, concepts, and theories away into my mind about people, places, and things to use for later purposes (Rath, 2007). In a similar manner, my strength of Learner entails that I am deeply reflective and committed to stretching myself, my mind, and gaining knowledge and skills about problems, behaviors, and theories (Rath, 2007). Lastly, Connectedness refers to the ability to see the nuanced interconnections of the world, many of which are not seen or perceived until a much more intense, critical, and deep reflection of the different problems and hopes we have. I am aware of others thoughts, feelings, and emotions and I seek to break down the arbitrary barriers that divide us from connection and belonging (Rath, 2007). With these strengths, I learned, overall, that I am reflective with a deep hunger for knowledge and understanding about our world and the human condition; not only do I want to be part of valuable and loving connections but also inform and teach others about what I have learned and experienced, as well.
Finally, in this course, we discussed our VIA Character Strengths and the ways in which these shape our outlooks and worldviews. The three that spoke the most to me about who I am and the things I value in life were Honesty, Authenticity, & Genuineness, Judgment, Critical Thinking, & Open-Mindedness, and Appreciation of Beauty & Excellence (Seligman, 2017).
What I admire most about this strength is that there is an acknowledgment of reality – so often we become caught up in saving face or looking impressive to others that we lose who we truly are in the process. In all things, I want to help others to know that it is okay to not be okay. It is from that place that we find some of our deepest growth and acceptance.
In this character strength, the inclusion of Judgment is interesting to me. Most often, we take judgment to be a negative aspect, as in we are judging and belittling another human being. However, in this, it refers to being grounded in an understanding of who you are and allowing this to guide and shape beliefs and behaviors.
Lastly, this strength I find to be most moving and indicative of my heart, hopes, and dreams. Whenever I find something meaningful, valuable, beautiful, and worthy of love and esteem, I am in awe (and more frequently than I want to admit, I am moved to tears by the sheer wonder of how amazing our world can be). There is guidance and wisdom to be found abundantly throughout humanity and music, poetry, art, human relationships, and compassion inspire me to move forward and bring light and love to all around me.
Throughout this course, I found Brene Brown’s TEDtalk to be something I continually watched and gleaned from, intrigued by her research and our innate needs for connection even when it is uncomfortable and feels impossible.
“Because true belonging only happens when we present our authentic, imperfect selves to the world, our sense of belonging can never be greater than our level of self-acceptance (Brown, 2012).”
What I am Passionate & Driven By:
From all this, I believe it is evident that I am passionate about helping others to see themselves clearly for who they are and guiding them to acceptance of this, as well as empowerment to change and adapt to their values and beliefs. Looking at my strengths, I am someone who is deeply interested in the concept of knowing others and being known by others. I am energized by gaining new understanding and new ways of thinking and feel inspired by these so much so that I want to teach others the wealth of knowledge that I have found, as well.
Brown, B. (2012). Daring greatly: How the courage to be vulnerable transforms the way we live, love, parent, and lead. Penguin.
Rath, T. (2007). StrengthsFinder 2.0. Simon and Schuster.
Seligman, M. (2017). Authentic Happiness. Retrieved April 26, 2017, from https://www.authentichappiness.sas.upenn.edu/