Throughout my education, from elementary through to post-secondary, I have always been involved in some sort of volunteer position or extra-curricular activity. If there was a club that I could be a part of, a play I could act in, or a dance I could perform, I was there! As “High School Musical” teen-heartthrob Troy Barnes would say, I was “in it to win it!” I have always been able to rise to the occasion of taking on an executive or leadership position while involved in these groups because that was how I felt I would gain the most experience. However, my experiences in these roles have taught me that all leadership positions are not created equal, and sometimes, these experiences can teach you lessons that you never expected to learn.
During my time in one of these groups, there were a lot of outside issues going on which were slightly out of our control. These issues stemmed from upper management and were not just happening within our group, but all our sister groups as well. Members were expected to do much more than originally described to team members, like attending mandatory meetings three times a week, participate in out-of-city conferences at least twice within their term, and fill out online participation modules several times a month. If they were unable to complete their jobs they were let go. I was one of these people.
I was in shock when I was told the news of my dismissal. I had been involved in this group for about a year, taking a leadership role and managing my own team. I considered what I had accomplished in that leadership position to be more than successful, and definitely not grounds for firing. I felt that I was working well with my team, helping advance the group’s name and popularity at our school, and going above and beyond my job description. I had never been told that I was doing something wrong, and I was under the impression that I was to continue in the role until I transitioned someone else into it. Once we got notification that things were changing within our group and all of the other sister groups, I made it a priority to express to my superiors that there were certain expectations that I could not fulfill due to various circumstances out of my control. Never once was I under the impression this was not okay and nothing was said to me about it other than “okay let us see what happens.” Long story short, I was told out of the blue one day, without warning, that I was no longer needed on the team.
Of course, I was sad, frustrated, upset, and completely caught off guard! This was a role that I had put my heart and soul into for a very long period of time and suddenly, out of nowhere, I was let go. To top it all off, shortly after coming to terms with my negative emotions, I was begged back by my superiors. To me, this demonstrated levels of unprofessionalism and it showed that they should not have let me go without thinking through the outcome.
I believe that even though this happened so suddenly and that the situation put a strain on my relationship with the group, they still remain a major player in shaping who I became as a leader. Being a part of that group may have created some negative memories but most importantly, it taught me some important (and positive) life lessons, and I think that is what is most important to focus on.
So from one leader to another, I would like to tell you some of the lessons that I learned and may help you if you are ever frustrated working in a position where you do not get along well with a group or team. Sometimes, it is important to turn a negative into a positive and just remember to BE, LEARN, AND RISE!
BE – Be the bigger person: Regardless of the situation, it is important to be the bigger person and continue to support the group because they were a part of your life, regardless of how long you were in it. If you do not show that you are the bigger person in the situation, than you are no better than the group that created the riff in the first place. So, stand up, smile, be supportive, show you are professional, and still consider them because they changed you in some form or another.
LEARN – Learn Life Lessons: It is important to consider the lessons that you learned from the situation, and apply them to other areas in your life. From this situation, I became a better public speaker, more comfortable with management and organization skills, and more confident when presenting new thoughts and ideas to peers. These have helped me harness my leadership skills, jump into conversations and presentations effortlessly, and make new friends easily. If I were not involved in this group, I may not have had the opportunity to gain some of these skills or had the opportunity to put them into practice with others.
RISE – Rise Above it All: This is the most important tip I can give any reader. It is not the end of the world when things don’t go the way you expected or desired. You must remember that these are the little (key word – little) bumps that life puts in your path. While walking on this path, you can feel upset and let down from the situation at first; which is most certainly normal. But it’s the choice you make after those initial feelings to walk forward over that LITTLE bump and rise from the ashes (like a Phoenix – see what I did there?) to your full potential that determine your character and positivity! Take a leap forward on that path over that bump to your desires and dreams. Look back and all you will see is a small bump on the road you once followed and that bump is just a part of your past which helped create the person you became.
BONUS ADVICE: Here is one final piece of advice from one friend to another. if a situation like this has happened and it still is making you feel let down, remember that YOU are more than one struggle and there is SO much more that YOU can do! As cliché as it may seem – “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, stand a little taller.” It is something I have lived by and it is a good way of approaching tough situations. So believe in the cliché! No single event should break someone down, but think of each event as a building block to stand on to keep you growing taller than ever before!