*Note to the Audience*
Mic testing, one, two, one, two...
Hi, hello. Thanks you all for coming. Wow, this is really cool, it's a full house tonight. Um, you guys are here to hear me talk I guess, like my life and stuff. Umm... You don't have to like my story or anything but let me tell you something. This is my story. Whether you like it or not, it's gonna stay that way and stay that way for forever. My story is what brought me here today, what made me present here and now to talk about that exact same story. So this is just all me. What I give to you tonight, it's all me.
I'm just sayin'.
So who am I?
If there is one thing you should know about me first, know this: I hate introductions. I mean, who doesn't? But really, I hate introductions because I hate regretting about the cool things that I didn't mention during my introduction. I mean, I wanna give you the full details about how awesome I am in every way possible, but I always end up missing a few bullet points.
As you can tell, I consider myself as a cool person. At least most of the time, if not always. I am half North and half South Korean, I speak five languages, I am a gray-scale colorblind yet I work for stage lighting. I have two adorable furry kids, I do projects with some of the best researchers in the field, and I can play many many instruments. And this is just a tiny part of who I am.
I could go on and on and on and just be arrogant the whole time. You are okay to say that I am so full of myself. Pretentious, egoistic, haughty, you name it, but the thing is that I am surrounded by the people who somehow always find me cool. Whether I make a mistake or fail at something, there will be someone or some people who will bring my ego back by telling me those great things I have going on in my life. Trust me, I feel more than grateful and humbled to have such people around me, but man is it poisonous at times. Being cool is fine, having people who knows that you are cool is even better, but what this can do to you is not always so cool.
There has been innumerable times that I remember feeling motivated and inspired by the way people reminding me of how crazily impressive person I am. I don't think I could have made till where I am right now, standing at the considerably successful position as an undergrad, without their encouraging words and supportive actions toward me. I will be honest though that after realizing people's positive point of view about me, I have tried and am still trying to pursue things that might make others view me as even cooler. Things were often too easy for me whether it be making good impressions on people or appearing as a leader or even actually being one in the places I have been.
As easy as becoming a leader got, I naturally also became to think not only earning a title in a leadership position is a piece of cake, but also practicing a successful one was. I was frequently representing my project group and my class without hardly trying, but I didn't know what I was doing. No, that's not right. I never realized that I don't know anything about what does it mean to be a leader, what does it mean to lead others.
I must say that this ignorance was one of my biggest weaknesses I had. But do you see how I said this in a past tense? Experiences I've had as this 'blind' leader definitely put me through the phases and phases of fiascos. However, were they worth it? Yes, absolutely. Lack of knowledge was what eventually lightened up my desire to learn about leadership to become a better leader than I was before. This entire journey to 'successful' leadership has been an important chapter in my life, the one full with reflection, learning, and growth.
Now you may partially understand what I meant in the beginning by saying, 'This is my story.' Let me tell you again: this story is what led me here and what made who I am today.
What kind of messed up leader was I before? Let me see... From where do I even begin?
Like I already mentioned, I knew nothing about effectively leading people. Yet, that didn't stop me from thinking that I am indeed an effective leader regardless of my lack of knowledge. I was one of those kids who are just confident all the time about their sourceless abilities and just annoy everybody else.
When I try to remember, there are number of memories of my classmates irritated by the way I served my leadership role. For some, I can even recall what exactly they said to me, like, "What makes you think you are the best to do this?" or "You think you can do anything because you are the leader?" I still memorize this because it hurt. But I managed to ignore it anyway because I thought, 'What do they know? I am the leader.'
Looking back now, there are certain things I badly wish that I could've done better. What I used to firmly believe to be true no longer holds its' power.
Misunderstanding 1. What is even Leadership Philosophy?
Misunderstanding 2. The leader always have to be noticeable.
Misunderstanding 3. I have a lot of experiences so I know.
(Rather recent) Misunderstanding 4. Leadership is all about others.
So if leadership is also about me (about who I am), what part of me matters?
What I didn't realize until very recently was the fact that I am a person with values. I mean, we all go that phase where we question what's important in our lives. However, what we don't go through surprisingly and unfortunately as all is consciously applying those values in our everyday actions.
My core values are the foundations of who I am. What I consider meaningful in my life guides me think and make decisions, which in return adds up and compose who and where I am today.
As I started my journey to better myself with leadership, the very first practice was to understand what those values are. When I started this practice, I was amazed by the values that I didn't even think of having. Over time, there has been some editing and modifications to the my core values, but never changed fundamentally. If my list of core values can be described as more of objective and formal vocabularies, the list I have now is something I can fully relate myself not only as a leader, but also as a unique individual.
Value 1. Individualization that leads to Inclusion
Value 2. Balance between Intention and Passion
Value 3. Empowerment through Authentic Communication
Value 4. Accomplishment and its' Celebration
Value 5. Flexibility for Reflective Learning
But that's not it. Now that I know myself a little better, I needed to apply these values to the leadership lessons I gained from Leadership Fundamentals. Because only then, I will own my leadership.
Lesson 1. Leadership is an effort.
Lesson 2. Lead with passion.
Lesson 3. Know thyself.
Lesson 4. Be a blank page.
Lesson 5. True heart has a power.
So am I a better leader now?
Honestly? I don't know. Who am I to say that I am 'better'? I mean, what's the criteria and who am I comparing my leadership skills with?
Who I was before is my only criteria of assessing who I am now, and who I was before is my only point of comparison to see how much I grew, thrive, and beyond.
So far, I have came a long way to just find my own leadership. If you ask me whether I have found one yet, I will tell you, 'No, I will never.' I don't think there's going to be a time where I will be fulfilled with the amount of learning I had in leadership and stop. In fact, there shouldn't be. Learning is by definition continuous and there certainly is no limit to how much you can learn. However, I will proudly present you my journey so far and say, 'Here's what I found so far. Isn't that cool?'
Yeah so, let me tell you my point of all this.
I want to not stop trying. That means, I want to be a leader with endless desire to learn and grow. I want to be a leader with the ability to improve persistently and still see the possibility to be better even further.
To make this happen, to become a person who I wish to be, I need to make rigorous effort to truly live my core values as a leader. There may be changes that are necessary to bring those values fully into my everyday life and I know that it will be painful. However, I am willing because my purpose lies in my passion to make positive impact to the people, to the society, and to the world.
Um yeah, so there you have it: me and my truth as a leader.
I don't know if you still remember, but I clearly mentioned in the beginning that this is my story whether you like it or not. Regardless of your opinion, my story will persist and proudly compose the core of who I am. Just know that there is this exclusive girl with really badass attitude who dreams of being an effective leader and she won't stop pursing that dream.
Again, I'm just sayin'.