It’s easy to fall into the trap of complacency. Nobody necessarily wants to, but we inevitably do — when you’re in the thick of it, whatever “it” is, you don’t have the time or energy to consider if what you’re doing is productive, efficient, and smart. We fall in line and try our best to keep on keeping on. I’ve noticed that my own complacency has led me to neglect my own wellbeing, along with that of the groups I am a part of.
Leadership at a collegiate level is a weird thing. Every student with an executive board position here at UR is stuck between multiple identities: student, friend, colleague, peer, advisor. I notice within myself that the ability to recognize things that need changing in my organizations dissipates the more administrative duties I acquire. I feel like I’m running out of steam for a group that isn’t running, but the reasons why it isn’t working are things I’m blind to as a result of my position. The worst part? I start to feel like it’s everyone else’s fault that things aren’t working out. If I’m working so hard and something still isn’t quite right, how could it be my issue?
When you approach a problem the exact same way for months on end and get the same unsatisfactory results, the most logical thing to do is to take a step back, assess, and try something new. However, when you have dozens of people waiting for your command to do their jobs, it can often seem like there’s no time to try anything new. There are deadlines to meet, people to keep track of, goals to achieve.
What I recommend to my fellow leaders: Take advantage of your position to make your group environment a place where everyone feels that they can be heard. You’re likely to get something from their perspective you wouldn’t have caught prior, and you’ll be better off for it. If you don’t, you might suffer the consequences of people silently harboring resentment for how the group is being run.
In addition: It’s better to realize that you’re wrong and feel stupid for not seeing it prior. Fixing your mistakes while being a public-facing figure, like you are in an e-board position, is a hard skill to learn. It’s even harder not to beat yourself up about it. However, college is supposed to be a place to make mistakes in an isolated environment built for learning. We’re all doing our best, but when we stumble, we are lucky enough to be in the optimal time and place to breathe, brush ourselves off, and try something new.