A Leader in the Making
Kathleen Bostick | Lake Braddock DECA
“To whom much is given, much is expected.”
Throughout my life, I have been motivated by my family to make an impact on the world. However, the biggest honor I have ever received was being selected to participate in DECA’s International Career Development Conference (ICDC). In as little as six days, I learned more about DECA, leadership, and myself than I have ever learned in such a short period.
When I arrived, I had no idea what to expect. I was chosen to be a delegate, but I didn’t know anyone who had participated in the past. I quickly realized that I was surrounded by some of the most driven, respectful and intelligent kids in the nation. Although this was quite intimidating, I felt empowered to be a member of the group. Every instinct in my body told me that this trip was going to affect me in such a positive way.
On the first day of leadership training, I arrived exactly eleven minutes early. As I waited outside the room with the other delegates from our chapter, the facilitator divided everyone into small groups. Personally, I enjoyed being taken out of my comfort zone and meeting new people. This was the start of my journey.
One of the first lessons I learned at ICDC was about myself. We listened to a lecture from Dr. Don. She discussed emotions and how it affects people and the environment around them. She taught us “10 magnificent things to practice daily” that will change our lives. Although I am only 16 years old, I have experienced a lot in the world – inspiration, hope, self-doubt, happiness and sadness. This lecture was one of the most inspirational lectures that I have ever heard. I took everything that she said and absorbed it like a sponge. Lesson number seven truly spoke to me the most. Number seven is referred to as “Cancel-Cancel.” When you say or think something negative you have to immediately “cancel it” and then say something positive. I decided to try it and believe it or not, it has affected my emotions immensely.
From the moment I implemented this into my daily life, I have noticed a major shift in my attitude. I am more positive about everything in life. I am able to work out difficult situations positively and with an open mind. I don’t think that I ever realized how much a small alteration in word choice can affect your whole attitude. I am able to consciously recognize negativity in my life and effectively replace it with positivity.
I also learned about social interaction. One of the most important skills that an adult can possess is effective communication. During academy, one could choose to be brave and put oneself out there or stay quiet and isolate themselves. I decided to be brave and I started to network by meeting new people. As I got to know different delegates, I realized that there were many different types of viewpoints each person had. I had to learn how to adjust to the many different personalities that I was exposed to while being respectful to their views. This helped me make genuine friendships and I realized that it has a direct correlation to leadership development. Everyone has unique characteristics that make them different, however, true leadership transcends differences and brings people together.
Susan B. Anthony led by advocating for women’s rights, George Washington is confident, yet humble, and even singers such as Echosmith led by advocating expression through art and music. Interacting with different kinds of people helped me identify what kind of leader they were. This is extremely important because by being able to identify different leadership qualities, we can create an efficient team by organizing around our strengths to achieve mutual goals for our chapter.
Not qualifying for ICDC with my partner was devastating, however, by observing the competitors and not competing with them, I gained a different perspective. Being a delegate helped me realize that the various levels of DECA conferences aren’t just competitions, they are experiences that can actually change your life similarly to how they changed mine. Interacting with so many people all over the country showed me how important it is to present yourself not just for your chapter but for yourself.
This trip provided me with the knowledge to help my chapter succeed emotionally, competitively and intellectually. Traveling across the nation to a conference is absolutely terrifying, however with the use of the effective communication skills that I learned enabled me to meet people from all over the US. I gained a wealth of knowledge that I will never forget.
One of the biggest challenges that I experienced at the academy ended up being the thing that helped me strive the most there; the exposure to different kinds of people. Everyone is a leader in some form, however there are different kinds of leaders and it’s important to be aware of that.
Adjusting to different leadership styles during the multiple group simulations that we did gave me a greater understanding of people and how each person has a certain criteria, goal and mission that they want to achieve. After this experience, I know how to address different kinds of leaders and help them strive in different ways.
This experience has increased my enthusiasm, determination and passion for DECA. Now I know that my future truly is #Limitless.
This article was written by Lake Braddock DECA member, Kathleen Bostick. You can follow Lake Braddock DECA on Twitter @LBDECA.