Overall, I have loved my first year on the road as an educational leadership consultant. I have been able to meet the most amazing people and experience some crazy and exciting things. I have been having the time of my life and have found some of my best friends through my ELC team. However, being a consultant isn't as glorious as it may seem at times. There are obstacles and trials that each of us has had to overcome on a daily basis. We have to balance our work lives with our personal lives and sometimes when we are so far away from home... it can be a challenge that we weren't necessarily prepared for. But that is life, it isn't always easy. In fact, it is rarely easy and more often than not, we find ourselves being unprepared when the storm comes. However, if we can learn to rise when we fall, be positive in negative situations, find the glory and joy in the little things and learn to be happy and successful above all, then we will find ourselves able to overcome anything that life throws at us.
As a consultant, I get to meet so many amazing leaders who dedicate countless hours each day to their chapters. Therefore I wanted to write this blog post in dedication to the leaders of our chapters; from the Chaplains, Merchandising Chairmen and New Member Educators to the Chapter Presidents, Chapter Advisors and International Governors - this post is for you.
Some of you may be surprised to know that Steve Jobs was fired from his own company, Nelson Mandela spent 27 years in prison and Abraham Lincoln was defeated in eight elections. Yet each one of these people achieved extraordinary success... but how? We all know of people that have struggled throughout their lives but have risen to overcome any trials that life has thrown at them. Some, like Jobs, Mandela and Lincoln, climb their way back to the top and inspire the world in the meantime. We love to hear about these stories and for a brief moment, we let them inspire us. However, when it comes to our own stories, our own struggles and trials when failure is fresh in our lives, sometimes it’s hard to become inspired and to believe that we can pick ourselves back up and achieve success.
Last year while I was in college I came across an article in Forbes Magazine that really helped put all of this in perspective for me. It helped me discover the foundation one needs to build to be successful and overcome things as a leader: “Having the skills and the wherewithal to rebuild your platform requires you to 1.) Take responsibility for the bad result and negotiate your way out of it, 2.) Refuse to be deterred by a set-back that five years from now will be nothing more than a great learning experience, and 3.) Proceed with utmost integrity using both your heart and your mind to guide you along the road back.”
As the leaders of our Fraternity, we dedicate so much of our lives to Alpha Phi and our leadership positions within. Adversity is always looming, and the opportunities for failure are ever-present. Things can go wrong at the worst of times… and occasionally they do. Sometimes, just when we think things can’t get any worse, something else happens and we are left overwhelmed or defeated. I encourage everyone to use the skills that I came across in Forbes Magazine as a foundation for overcoming obstacles and rise above. They are called the Skills of Engagement:
- Listen actively
- Think critically
- Have transparent communication
- Own the result
- Influence obstructionists, the timid and the disengaged
- Negotiate a favorable outcome
Using these Skills of Engagement has helped me tremendously in my life so far, especially when I was a VP and Chapter President in undergrad and now as a consultant for Alpha Phi. They truly work if we sit back and allow ourselves to understand the entire situation. Another skill that you must rely on is charisma. Those of you that know me know that I have charisma. I have learned not to take things or myself too seriously. Sometimes things go wrong and it is out of our control, but it is how we handle things and how we rise above the problems with solutions and positivity. Also remember that you cannot do things alone. You need a team, whether it is your department, your executive board, your chapter, your advisor, or a fellow ELC, it’s okay to reach out for help or just for someone to talk things through with.
So I encourage you all to stand tall when things get hard. Push through the trials and problems and find solutions to anything and everything that life/your position may throw at you. You have the opportunity to affect so many lives in a positive way and be a role model to so many young women. So the next time you find yourself struggling or feel like you aren’t making a difference. I am here to tell you that YOU ARE MAKING A DIFFERENCE and that every minute and every ounce of heart and soul that you put into your position is making an impact on your chapter and Alpha Phi International as a whole. At times, you may feel underappreciated and too tired to keep going above and beyond, but you must keep moving forward. Find solutions and then move on.
As I mentioned earlier in this post, I had the opportunity to be Chapter President of the Beta Sigma chapter at the University of Utah. I have so much love and pride for my chapter and it has only grown as a consultant. However, I will be the first one to admit that I had my trials as Chapter President. There were times where I wondered what in the heck I had gotten myself into, where I felt unappreciated for all the sleepless nights, where I wondered what I was getting out of something that I was putting so much into… and when times were hard, whether it was worth it. I had my moments of weakness as a leader, like many do. I’m here to tell you that it’s okay to have those moments. It’s okay to cry alone in your room occasionally because you feel overwhelmed - in fact, I encourage it. It’s because of those moments of weakness that I remembered why I ran, the purpose of why I did what I did and regained the drive. Those moments of weakness have made me the person and consultant that I am today.
As Chapter President I looked up to Linda Boland, Alpha Phi International Executive Board President at the time, more than I can even explain. She is an inspiring woman in more ways than one and I clung onto every inspiring word that she provided during my term as President. I read my favorite quote of hers in the Quarterly prior to my final semester as Chapter President: “… I began thinking about the upcoming year - my final year as International President. There is still much work to be done and little time left to do it, so I'd better sprint to the finish line. To my sisters who will finish their term as collegiate chapter presidents this fall, I challenge you to do the same. Alpha Phi has given us an extraordinary opportunity to serve as our Fraternity's leaders. We have but a moment to make a positive difference in the Fraternity we love. Let's seize every single minute - right up to the last - to do our very best.”
So, to all my fellow leaders in Alpha Phi, take Linda Boland's advice and seize every single minute and do your very best.
I’d specifically like to dedicate this post to all the amazing leaders that I've had the opportunity of meeting and a special shout out to Evan Jones (Omega), Stacey Daniel (Omega), Lindsay Martin Poss (Beta Psi), Mechelle Mellor (Theta Sigma), Mary Popielewski (Rho), Faith Marsco (Rho), Dawn Bauer (Theta Lambda), Gianna Petan (Delta Theta), Nellie Kerr (Omega), Sharon Jensen (Delta Xi), Courtney Coslor (Theta Delta), Dale Hoeffel (Theta Delta), Megan Rafferty (Iota Nu), Emily Blankenship (Iota Nu), Melissa Doruff (Beta Psi), Shay Berges (Beta Epsilon), Erika Hauser (Epsilon Nu), Courtney Colucci (Epsilon Nu), Amanda Rutig (Epsilon Nu), Bre Lucking (Beta Sigma), Maranda Lebrecht (Beta Sigma), Alpha Phi International Staff and of course my perfect 2014-15 ELC Team. Thank you for all that you do and will continue to do. PUSH FORWARD.
Stephanie Scott (Beta Sigma-Utah) is a first year educational leadership consultant. Learn more about Staphanie by clicking here.