We often get so busy with the day-to-day– that is, LIFE– until we have to struggle to focus on the world beyond us. Especially here at the end of the semester, we're all caught up in the excitement and work of finishing the year that it's sometimes difficult to look beyond today.
Striving for our own professional growth can fall further and further back on our list of priorities. I have a wonderful definition of leadership that I try to keep in the front of mind: "Leaders facilitate action and guide change." That means that leaders make things happen; and, they guide the things that are happening to them. Here are a few suggestions to help you keep "ahead of the curve" as we take action and shape our own future.
1. Read– and read widely
It takes time, and that is a rare and valuable commodity. Still, true leaders,
hungry for information, trends, and conversations from everywhere in
our world — not just higher ed. Reach out to new sources of knowledge. Grab a new newspaper. Read a new (or old) book. Get curious. Read about things you don't know, instead of just reinforcing what you already know.
2. Synthesize new ideas
The book of Ecclesiastes reads "there is nothing new under the sun." It's just as true today as it was three thousand years ago. Yet ideas
are the essence of leadership. Understand you don't need to create new ideas. The ideas are already out there. You need to find them, and apply them to your needs. Is texting any different that passing a note in class? No, it's just the contemporary application of an old concept. Synthesize new applications for old ideas.
3. Lead from where you are
Waiting for a position or title to empower you is the biggest possible waste of potential. You don't need a more important job– or job description– to lead. Start leading now. Embrace your possibilities. Strive to be the best. Demonstrate your own vision and integrity, and become the leader you seek.