August 6, 2012
When asked where I was for nine days, I stumble over my words, consider my audience, and I usually settle by saying, “I was facilitating at a leadership camp.” I wish I could concisely articulate how comprehensively the I-LEAD® experience changed my life. Here’s my chance.
The Institute for Leadership, Education, and Development® is deliberate. Based on the Leadership Practices Inventory, the curriculum balances experiential learning, personal reflection, and group discussion to complement the Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership. There it is. It all makes sense now, right?
I-LEAD® is a microcosm of student affairs. I-LEAD® epitomizes every aspect that drove me into this field. As the operations manager of the Union Complex at the University of Southern Mississippi, I work closely with awesome and unique students everyday. I train them, I challenge them, and I encourage them. So, I thought I would be a natural as a facilitator at I-LEAD®. Boy, was I wrong. I underestimated my own capacity to be challenged and to grow not only as a facilitator, but also as a professional, and most unexpectedly, as a person.
I-LEAD® is transformative. My small group included 13 phenomenal leaders. On the first day, I realized they had significant leadership roles and responsibilities. On the second day, I realized what that truly looked like. They shared their life experiences, which include challenges adults may never face in a lifetime. They shared, not seeking pity, but to explain what drives them. They used their experiences as their foundation. They understood, perhaps better than I, that to truly gain from I-LEAD®, they must become vulnerable. From that point, they not only gained a better understanding of each other, but they gained an increased appreciation of each other. We all did.
I-LEAD® is challenging. The student participants worked together on tasks that were not easy. They expected these challenges. I, however, did not expect that their challenges would challenge me. I had to step back and not participate; it was torture. I have “learned” this lesson before but never so consciously. It was their time to learn. I knew this. But at I-LEAD®, I realized that it was my time to learn, too. I learned how hard it was to let my group fail at completing a task.
I-LEAD® is comprehensive. The curriculum is, as I mentioned earlier, intentional and deliberate to push the students toward self-awareness and growth among a list of other gains. Each lesson built upon the last. Each activity was related to the lesson. It didn’t end on the last day. We are each still living it. We set goals, and we now have the tools to achieve those goals. The curriculum may be for the students, but the experience is for everyone. We all gained friends, we all grew, we all learned, we all are better as a result. Not half bad for a “leadership camp.”
I-LEAD® is life changing.
is the Operations Manager, Union Complex at University of Southern Mississippi.
Megan is responsible for daily operations of the 312,000-sq.-ft. facility. She has primarily responsible for the hiring, training, and supervising the student staff, including the facility managers, crew leaders, desk assistants, and event services crew. Megan also serves as an instructor for the Leadership Seminar for Freshmen Leadership scholars. Megan earned a master's degree in counseling and personnel services at the University of Southern Mississippi.