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On Leadership

I have been a student leader since sixth grade; student council responsibilities have been a part of my academic life for a pretty long time now. Despite my long experience in “student leadership,” I didn’t really understand what leadership was for a long time. So what is leadership?

As I discovered, “leadership” is not actually a trait as most people imagine it to be. Many people think of “leadership” as some acquired trait like intelligence or athleticism as I once did, but the term “born leader” is really just a myth.  

Having excellent public speaking abilities is not leadership. Being able to direct a group towards a goal is not leadership. Making people love you and respect you is not leadership. These are simply byproducts of being a leader.

“Leadership” is a lifestyle.

Leadership is opening doors for the people behind you. It’s thinking twice before you talk. It’s checking in with someone to make sure they’re okay and taking the time to ask that one underclassman about their day. It’s working quietly when no one can see you and standing at the front when no one else wants to. Leadership is a lifestyle of service and it is anything but glamorous.

But like going on a juice cleanse or an intense workout plan, leadership makes you stronger and better. It’s a choice you make every day; you don’t wake up one morning to realize you have become a leader.

As BEAM students take on this year, I hope they try out this thing called leadership. Like going on a strict diet, there’s going to be days when you break the rules and times when you want to give up. But at the end of the year, I hope BEAM students can look back at how much they’ve grown as leaders both in and out of the business world.

James Chang-Davidson