Thursday, March 10, 2011

Excellence is a moving target

For those of you who don't know, I have been a leader for most of my life. Leader of the class line in kindergarten, captain of my soccer team, captain of my dance team, captain of the cheerleading squad at college, led my senior class in most scholarships won, and now I am the President of my school's Student Nurses Association as well as the Maryland Association of Nursing Students Membership and Elections Chair. (Whew! Yes, I am in nursing school...more on that to come!) I have always had the mentality and skills for leadership and it's just been the type of person I am. Some of us are leaders and some of us are followers.

Recently, however, I went to a conference in Baltimore where the keynote speaker, Dr. Beverly Malone, gave a new meaning to the word, "leader." She believes that everyone SHOULD be a leader at some point in their life. She strongly urged us to get involved as much as possible and stay involved when we have our set careers and life, wherever that may be. "Excellence is a moving target," she said. You have it for a second, a minute, a day and then it's gone and you are striving for it again. SO TRUE! You may get an "A" on your test but the next day or the next week, you are moving onto the next one you have coming up. If you get promoted, great! But then in your "higher up" position, you have more responsibilities that you are striving to make excellent.  Being a leader does not mean you always have excellence. (For more information on leadership, check out this AMAZING website I can testify to this. As a leader of over 200 students, there seems to be always something else I can do to bring excellence to me as a person, as a group, as an organization, and as a school. Because being a leader comes down to three simple things:

1. Vision
2. Understanding boundary management
3. Power

1. Everyone has vision or a dream. Everything in this world starts out as such. But it's not complete. It's like a tree with limbs and branches but no leaves. There is no detail behind it...yet. What is an idea/thought/vision without an action behind it? A hallucination. Complete your vision! Complete your tree and then grow more! And, of course, there will always be people who chew off your vision and will claim it as their own. That's okay- it's becoming a reality! Bask in that glory!

2. What is acceptable and what isn't? Understanding boundary limits and managing them is what seperates the leaders from the followers. For example, let's try something. Wherever you are right now, maybe it's at work, a home, at school, at a Barnes and Noble, or even at lunch in a cafe...grab someone else. Stand facing each other. Now step towards them and get as close as you feel comfortable. Tell them to do the same. How far apart are you? An inch? A foot? Three feet? Ten feet? Look down. Do you see that invisible line that both of you didn't dare cross? That is your boundary. Yours may be different than theirs and that's okay. We all have our own limitations. As a leader, we just need to know and be able to recognize them- how close it TOO close?

3. In my opinion there are four, yes four, types of power. Legitimate, extended, information, and charismatic. All of my examples will be based upon nursing so just go with it. Legitimate power- when us nursing students pass our NCLEX (nursing boards) we are legitimately nurses. We have the "RN" initials at the end of our name which gives us that legitimate power. Extended power- our mentors, our role models (which everyone should have one!) Their knowledge, wisdom, and experience they bestow upon you is your extended power. They are extending it onto you. Information power- We nurses, as much as everyone hates to admit it, but we know more about our patients than anyone-even the patient themselves! And we know this information on a 24/7 basis. (*Scary, huh?*) How powerful is that?! To know more about someone than even they do...Charismatic power- Being a nurse is a joyous thing. Our job description is caring for people. What better job is there? We come in for the day (or night in my case) and our attitude can shape someone else's. We can change someone's day or even their life by a smile or care we give. Now that's powerful...

So ask yourself this...are you a leader or a follower? Do you have these leadership qualities? There is no right or wrong answer. You have to find out for yourself. Who knows? You just might find out while striving for excellence and soon you'll be walking on YOUR own two feet...

Until the next step bloggers...

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