A​ ​Leader​ ​in​ ​the​ ​Making

Kathleen Bostick | Lake Braddock DECA
Photo courtesy of @LBDECA on Twitter.

“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.

Categories: Members, Members – Students, Profiles