how to lead: realization 36

Everyone has an initially different idea of what a good leader should be. Some thing a good leader does all of the work. Others think leaders are just figureheads who do not need necessary experience. For me, a leader is somebody who can do any task pertinent to their organization’s success, but at the same time, knows how to train and inspire others to do these tasks in their place. A very classic example of a poor leader was a restaurant manager that my friend worked for. The manager, rather than overseeing the restaurant, would instead be in the kitchen shucking corn with the other prep cooks. That’s not what she should be doing. Even if she was the best corn-shucker in the restaurant, her job as a manager/leader is to oversee the restaurant from the top level, especially from a front of house perspective since she is the general manager. She should have had a line or prep cook shuck the corn instead.

While people think that a good leader can be defined by different things, my definition was stemmed from a combination of leadership courses I have taken and from multiple directors and managers in companies, hotels, and restaurants. That being said, some people have the natural ability to be leaders and some people do not. People can be leaders, managers, or followers exclusively and depending on the situation. There is a definitive difference between being a leader and a manager, but because I have referenced managers as people who are supposed to be leaders in this post, I will just talk about managing in a later one so people will not get too confused. All you need to know is that there is a difference between being a manager by title and a manager by definition. Somebody who is a manager by title should still be expected to be a leader. Somebody who is a manager by definition is not a leader, or at least, in the context they are being assessed in; you can be a manager in one setting, but a leader in another.

When I became the editor-in-chief for a food publication, I was able to create this hierarchy of leaders with manager titles. I had two managing editors underneath me, who each led their own team of editors, who then led their own team of writers or photographers. It was stressful and strenuous at first, having to train everyone to understand how the software of our site worked and the publishing schedules and deadlines, but once we got everything settled, I never really needed to worry about the publication. I could have been run over by a car or put in a coma, and they would know how to still run everything in my absence. At that point, my role went from begin the trainer to being the innovator and cheerleader; I wanted them to give me feedback on how we can continue to improve the culture of our organization so that way they would be even more proud to be a part of it. I made sure to give everyone, from my managing editors to the editors to the writers and photographers, compliments and let them know I valued their contributions, because without the people in my organization, the publication would not be as amazing as it is.

Being a good leader stems from a lot of factors. Professionalism and maturity are definitely two things you need to take criticism when you fail, to self-reflect on how to improve, and to stay realistic and not kid yourself when a situation is out of control. You need to be brave and confrontational with conflict or problems. Never shy away. You set the example for everyone working beneath you. You set the culture. That being said, do not ever think that something is ever beneath you. You cannot be afraid to either do a task, or train somebody to do a task; when you’re training somebody, obviously lead by example and do the task yourself, just to show them. This was how I managed to train my editors. I showed them how to operate in the site, and they knew how to do it, and I made sure to let them know if they have any problems, to ask me questions. Encourage a supportive environment where you should not be this imposing authority figure, but rather somebody who has their head on straight, experience and knowledge, and an infectiously impressive work ethic. That’s how to be a great leader.

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dragonfly: dream 33

When people meet me, they typically assume that my spirit animal is a dolphin. My best friend told me that a dolphin fit my personality because I was outgoing and upbeat, like a dolphin. But I disagree with the general consensus. When I see myself in a mirror, I do not see a perpetually cheerful sea-rapist. I see a quiet, nomadic person who drifts between groups. A dragonfly symbolizes constant change. Specifically, maturity. I feel with my sort of personality, the dragonfly is a very perfect fit. I can be the most immature or mature person you ever meet, depending on my current mood and the context I am put in.

The biggest reason why I feel like a dragonfly is a perfect representation for me started from a dream I had. I was a warlord’s concubine in Feudal Japan. I was terrified and left alone in a small room with him. He was about to defile me. But then, like little flowers, dragonflies started sprouting out of the ground. I started following them, and more appeared. The warlord noticed me escaping, but the dragonflies continued to multiply and spread, flooding the room. He could not catch me. I followed the trail of dragonflies, and managed to escape the prison.

Waking up from that dream, I had no idea what to think. It felt completely random that dragonflies would appear to me and rescue me from a sex-crazed mongrel. But I started to think more about why that dream occurred and what the dragonflies meant. I just started to remember how I lost my virginity; to a much older stranger in a barely legal or consensual  manner. So in that way, the warlord represented the stranger. In that situation, I managed to fend off the person, so my act of defiance was like a metaphor for the dragonflies. I read into what dragonflies symbolized, and the results mostly showed that they represent maturity, power, and growth.

Becoming more mature, or at least, being able to maturely handle situations, is something I want to continue learning how to do. For me, maturity is something we all need to be strong. Specifically, being able to cope with hard situations in a way that does not harm anyone. Dragonflies never harm anyone. They fly through the different phases of life, and continue to drift off towards adulthood. In a feather-light world, we could all do just that. Life would be enjoyable to the point where it will always feel so short-lived or as if it passed by too quickly.

Validation: realization 11

I am a naturally competitive person. I believe that I need to be valued, whether it be by myself or by others. I need to know that I am somebody that other people can care about. And when I feel like other people care less about me than I do about them, it becomes this almost self-inflicted abusive relationship. I keep trying harder to care for them more, because I need to know that they care for me as well. It gets to the point where I really will pour my 200% effort into making sure that I care about those people who don’t reciprocate; it consumes my every thought and action. I used to be that kind of person who would want what they can’t have, especially when it comes to earning somebody I want to care for’s warm thoughts or attention. It all stems from the fact that I have a deep-seated fear about being abandoned and forgotten.
I used to think that it was better to die remembered than live forgotten. It all stems back to my abandonment issues as a kid. Whenever my mom would leave the house, the infant me would start crying, thinking that she was leaving me behind. My father, being so disapproving of me in general, that did not help the whole case of me feeling belonging or loved. I just felt that when people do not like me, I try to make them like me. It was that sort of insecurity that had gotten me into a lot of self-inflicted pain. From an outsider’s perspective, it’s easy to see that I need to be cut away from those kinds of people. But for me, mentally, I get so fixated on trying to be accepted, to receive that validation, that all I can think about is doing what I can to receive it.
It was a really tough lesson for me to learn, but the only person’s approval you need is your own. You need to be the person you want to be, and nobody else should really tell you otherwise. Obviously, there are exceptions, such as being a terrorist, rapist, pedophile, or a serial killer, so don’t go twisting my words, Internet. So besides those and like examples, you really should not have to care about what others say. Be the person you want to be. Find validation in yourself; be proud of what you are doing or the person that you are and don’t feel like you need to prove yourself to other people. Being able to love yourself, and finding that sort of self-approval, that is key to being feather-light.