Enrolling in this course of Leading Social Change, I have been provided many opportunities to explore concepts which helped me realize the process of social change on both a micro and macro level. Now that it is the end of the term, I have been able to delve deeply into each framework of thought which I consider to be valuable in my perspective towards my role in social change. In comparison to the version of myself at the beginning of this term, I believe that I have gained exponentially. In your – the reader’s – exploration of this essay, I will define: my personal definition of leadership, the leadership styles and leader attributes that I hope to cultivate in my own life, my mission towards social change, both my internal and external drivers towards social change, the fields in which I intend to operate and conduct myself in, as well as my perspective on the quality of relationship between myself and my audience.
When I first entered this course for Leading Social Change, I found that my favorite definition of leadership was the most simple of all: ““the action of leading a group of people or an organization.” But now, after much thought of how leadership affects me and my own belief system, I have decided to take the challenge in making my own definition for leadership. I have come up with the following:“Leadership is composed of its captain and their crew: leader and followers. Leaders emerge through their self-actualized response to a need for change in their community. Through industrious means, leaders compel others towards the driving force of their visions. This is when the process of leadership begins, and when the quality of such leadership is tested. Over time, the leader traverses across venue to venue, sea to sea. The quality of a leader is directly proportional to the level of change their vision has on a given community, as well as the emotional impact the leader has on each follower gained. Great leaders inspire others to become great leaders, or at the very least, they inspire others to become great followers with higher drive and purpose than they possessed prior to their followship. Through integrity of purpose and passionate action, effective leaders continue to inspire their audience and followers even after their deaths, despite not being able to physically make any more efforts towards social change. With great leadership comes timeless and priceless meaning for humanity as a whole.”
In order to become the greatest leader, ideally, I hope to eventually lead under the style of laissez-faire. I believe that teams work best and become most fruitful when each member is internally motivated to reach infinite and beyond for themselves, and therefore, the vision of the organization. I believe that a team operating under the values of laissez-faire is able to produce the best quality and quantity of fruit, as each member is working towards the optimal improvement for themselves – and then the optimal improvement for the team and their collective vision. Though, leading under laissez-faire is tricky, as it depends on the liberation of each member in order for it to work best.
In my current band situation, I find that my teammates are not entirely sure of their roles just yet. So I recognize that, as a team, we benefit more when I incorporate a participative style of leadership when interacting with them. This is because I understand that it is hard for one to be sure of what they should do if their interpretation of the group’s vision is still in its infancy stage. Plus, it does not help if the interpersonal relationships between members have not developed the foundation of mutual trust and support – which is crucial to a fluid and productive creation process. So, I show consideration to their thoughts because I want to express the value and respect that I have towards each of my bandmates and their thoughts. I do not value autocratic leadership (where the leader has complete authority in regards to team decision making) or transactional leadership with much merit, as I believe it takes more than external means or results (such as payment or materialistic reward) to fully empower and liberate an individual when discovering their true potential. In fact, I believe there is less to be had when a leader does not listen to their followers, or when leaders only hope to inspire through physical reward. I believe that through patience, compassion, and positive support, a leader is able to unlock the hidden potential of all of their followers in what seems like no time. As far as the attributes in which I strive to cultivate throughout my life and opportunities for leadership, there are many. These representative attributes and traits fall under the themes of integrity, inspiration, and personal passion.
I would like to work on and improve my level of integrity, so that my actions truly reflect my belief systems. This means that I wish to be more disciplined, patient, accountable, and authentic in all of the facets of my own life. I understand that I have many obstacles towards complete embodiment of the values which I wish to represent, so I recognize and embrace the notion that it all starts with me having more integrity in a moment-to-moment basis.
I believe that to be a good leader, one has to be able to inspire with ease. I believe it is important for any good leader to be patient and mindful when it comes to communicating with those listening. This means that I must endure high levels focus and self-confidence when extracting the thoughts from my internal dialogue to the outside world. The challenges of this endurance varies depending on the situation at hand, so being able to understand when the best time to speak and share my ideas is an important element to inspiring others. As I work on the integrity of my own actions, I believe that I will be able to improve on my inspirational quirks through time.
Lastly, I believe a great leader is a passionate leader – no exceptions. Passionate leaders have a vision and understand the meaning, or the “why”, behind their vision over any other question posed. It is the passionate leader who is the most transparent, as their followers experience their leader’s vision and emotional fire first-hand. Passionate leaders are innovative and stoic. They make a lot of risks and decisions which are all susceptible to failure, but the passionate leader acknowledges the possibility of failure and is prepared to learn from any experience and opportunity of growth presented to them. The passionate leader is one of high perseverance and grit. Passionate leaders love to make choices outside of their comfort zone so they are better able to understand the reality of potential around them. As such, passionate leaders are driven by both the known and unknowns in their lives, embracing the balance of order and chaos which emerge in their own realities on a daily basis. Even more so, passionate leaders exhibit much more humility than the average leader or boss. This is because they are secure in their vision and trust that their circumstantial decisions add up to a higher lesson in all realms of growth and learning. Passionate leaders – in the most simplest of words – are not afraid to follow their beliefs, to look stupid, or to make mistakes. They realize that all of these variables of vulnerability are crucial to the progression and success in realizing the visions of their overarching narratives. A passionate leader is hungry for growth and embraces the experience in appearing foolish. Passionate leaders know what they want, why they want it, and understand how their actions and words can play a substantial role in the fruition of their dreams. Passionate leaders learn for the sake of learning. Their decisions are made for the sake of themselves, so that they are better able to communicate their beliefs to their followers in the most authentic and positive manner idiosyncratic to them.
In deep consideration of my own potential – in becoming what I believe is a great leader – I realize that my deepest intention for social change is to lead those looking towards the discovery of their own equipment. I want to provide like-minded explorers with lifelong tools so that they are better able to grow independently. I want to help individuals become more grounded in their personal beliefs and more adamant towards the conduct of their behaviors so that they can better contribute to the positive growth on communities in which they hope to inspire. I want to help my followers acknowledge the benefits of trial and error, and to show them that patience and hard work can go a long way compared to the lack thereof. I want to empower the lost and hopeless, using compassion and my own subjective truths as my north star.
There are too many people on this earth who have not delved enough into their own self-exploration, and they suffer more than they ought to because of it. From young to old, black to white, computer programmers to janitors, all people are affected by the overarching conflicts of order and chaos at play in their day-to-day lives. Most – if not all – of humanity struggle with finding enlightenment: the transcendence above suffering. My quest for social change is one of transformation: the liberation of humankind through means of self-understanding and growth. I want to lead those as lost in this world as I am with the proper equipment in which – I believe – has the most significant and valuable potential for positive personal growth within themselves, our society, our species, and then our ecosystem and planet as a whole. In order to do that, I believe that the most important step for any leader or follower to make is the exploration of themselves. Like the Greek aphorism in which great existentialist Søren Kierkegaard once alludes to, “One must know oneself before knowing anything else.”
Internally, I have gone through my fair share of suffering and feelings of failure. Those experiences, coupled with my want for positive change with those around me and the world as a whole, act as the foundational grounding to my overall intentions in life. I want to spread joy and I want to remind people that life is hard, but you can approach it with a healthy mindset for upwards growth. Simon Sinek, one of the speakers in which we learned about in our d2l course lessons, says that the greatest players are those of the infinite. Finite players base their progress on a hierarchical domain, where they exhibit behaviors and actions that are influenced by those around them. In psychology, they call this an external locus of control. I want have and train my internal locus of control. I want to be a player for infinite, where everything I do is for the growth of myself, so that I am better able to help those around me.
Throughout my experiences with myself and others who are arbitrarily thrown into this world of existence, music and psychology have helped me realize and expand on the tools which encourage my own personal growth. Music and psychology are the fields in which I possess the most strength. As I continue on this path towards internal growth, I notice that more and more people are attracted to the things that I have to say and offer. If it is after a performance of one of my songs or works, or just a casual conversation I am having with another person, I personally witness the emotional impact I am able to have on others. Acknowledging that I have even the smallest contribution for emotional impact (which inevitably acts as the catalyst towards physical change) in another person’s life has served as an external driver, and helped me realize and expand the scope of my mission in leading my followers towards positive growth – one heart at a time. In everything that I do, I want to help spark the inner fire inside all of those taking the time out of their day to listen to me. It was not until I realized that I had a potential for social change that I made it a promise to myself to make as many efforts as I can to inspire those around me. I want to show people that everyone has a capacity to make a difference in our world – abundant with opportunities for social change. They simply just have to believe in themselves, like I believe in myself.
I believe that I have the most room for influence in the realms of casual interaction, social science, education, and media. To be more specific, I believe that I can influence others in fields which range from small to large: everyday life, psychology (in terms of research, clinical work, as well as academic teaching), and music (writing and performing). I will lead toward the liberation of humankind, with much respect and care towards the individual needs of the members in our world. I hope to lead my followers and fellow leaders towards the discovery of individual meaning in each of their lives, and to expose them to life strategies which I believe encourage healthy and positive productivity, not only for themselves, but also for the greater good of humanity as a whole. I will lead my students, audience members, and followers towards the path of failure and vulnerability, so that they can become resilient, and so that they can better cultivate their strengths in learning with a mindset for growth, in contrary to the seemingly inescapable feeling of threat which emerges from the situational chaos’ in a person’s life. Through the creation of music, facilitated by my compassionate perspective of gratitude towards life and the inevitable consequences of being – existential suffering – I will empower and comfort listeners in their day-to-day lives. Through the creation of music, my independent clinical work with clients, my interactions with my students, alongside the interactions I have with others on a case by case basis , I hope to provide those listening with a sense of emotional catharsis which will accompany them during their own adventure of self-understanding and life.
Ideally, once I become well-founded on education, research, and reflection, I will be a leader for truth and compassion. I hope to connect with as many as I can, as I would like to see those around me flourish as much as I would like to see myself flourish. And I know that the only way I can do that is by leading, following, and listening to others. By acting as a leader in my respective fields, acting as a follower to others both within and outside of these fields, and acting as an audience to the world, I will be provided an abundance of opportunities towards cultivating my own worldview and the approach in which I believe is ideal and necessary for the most positive change in our society.
I understand that it will be a difficult journey through time in making my difference towards social change, and I am ready to embrace any opportunity and every obstacle which may come my way, so that I am able to learn and cultivate these experiences for the better. It is because I have defined for myself the definition of my ideal leader that I am able to understand what I am seeking in my own life. It is because I have explored my own values and beliefs that I understand how I should behave and think in order to be the best leader I can be. And it is because I have thought deeply about my role and purpose in the fields provided by my internal and external callings that I truly understand why I want to lead social change in the first place. In time, after rigorous planning for my passionate works, I believe I will be able to lead others towards not only the liberation of themselves as an independent person, but also towards the liberation of the world. Over time, I will acquire many tools and equipment which will guide my lead towards social change – all in what seems like no time at all.