14 Apr

Brigham Young was once asked which of all his leadership positions was his favorite, and he said that it was serving as a unit leader in Zion’s Camp, reporting on the welfare of his 10-12 men daily to the prophet Joseph Smith. It seems so simple, and it seems like a weird choice given his many incredible leadership opportunities, but Brigham would probably never have been able to describe what it meant to him to serve with those men and to be uplifted by the company of Zion.

On some smaller scale, I can relate to Brigham Young. I have had some outstanding opportunities in my life to be involved with truly great activities, but I will never be able to describe what it meant to me to serve with this group and to be uplifted by the company of Zion. It will be weird to not be surrounded by this fine Communications team every day. Our GroupMe conversation will die down. The quote book will gather dust in a memory box somewhere (which is actually probably best for everyone). The most important things I will remember from this year, however, are the many changes that these people & experiences have wrought in me. Especially concerning personal capability, I have started to see the BYUSA vision come to fruition in my life, and I am more excited than ever to carry it forward out of BYUSA and to spread the love and the elements of Zion that I have been blessed with. I will speak briefly about specific competencies within personal capability, and then I want to focus on what happens next.

Professional and Technical Expertise
I never would have seen myself ever knowing anything about advertising. Ever. Through training ACs, and through training the new advertising ED, I’ve realized that through continued exposure and focus, I have actually gotten to a very comfortable place when it comes to advertising policies, procedures, and resources at BYU.

Solves Problems and Analyzes Issues
I’ve been thinking a lot about how long it took for us to truly become a team. Our “storming” period was especially long, and I am actually really grateful for that now. It was a frustrating experience learning to get work with so many different personalities and responsibilities, but now I feel pretty confidently that I could face almost any atmosphere. I feel an indescribable love for this team and the people we served. That is the greatest example I can think of for learning to solve problems and analyze issues. Of course there were other smaller and more detailed experiences, mostly pertaining to advertising, but this competency immediately sparked a flood of experiences that all relate to our team.

Two heads are better than one. That is my new motto for innovation. I worked with Sarah, Brandon, and Tamara, as well as used feedback from the presidency & coordinators to develop an improved advertising program for 2012-2013. The progress we made together was beyond anything I could have ever done on my own, and I was so proud of the team effort. It was a struggle for me to be innovative because so much of my program was rooted in consistency and policy, but the challenge was fresh and very real to keep things interesting and progressing.

Practices Self Development
I got very low feedback in this area on my first 360, but in March the results were much higher, and I am proud of that. I can now take criticism much better. I more readily recognize that others want to help me, not hurt me. It’s made me less defensive to be around so much love. Practicing self-development is actually a really interesting concept because you have to find a balance between being humble and being proactive, and between placing the burden of critique on others and being able to recognize the personal need for change. In October, I definitely thought that practicing self-development meant asking for feedback and applying it. Now I realize that it actually means being self-aware and making constant adjustments to your leadership, making true progress, and being mature about feedback that others give. On that note, I just realized that there isn’t a single competency that is dependent on other people. This is alllllll me. It is about my choice to serve and my ability to make a difference, which can be inhibited by my stubbornness, pride, or negative attitude. Blaming others is how you sink.

What Now?
The nature of leadership is progress. I recently attended a fireside where Sheri Dew spoke about progress and the power to become. She said one thing that especially impressed me. “Our spirits are divinely programmed to want to progress. If you ever want to be depressed, stop progressing.” Most of the competencies I spoke about had to do with progress. That is significant. Olivia once said to me, “BYUSA isn’t the point of BYUSA.” She meant that we aren’t really only here to make an impact in a student service association. We aren’t just here to plan parties or print pretty pictures. The most important influence that BYUSA can have is what you take from it and what you do with the skills you learn. No one is meant to be there forever. You’re supposed to move on and up. Now that I know how to lead a meeting, train a new recruit, hold others accountable for responsibilities, follow up on assignments, love someone who just needs a smile, give and take constructive criticism, and especially how to direct others to the Lord through my leadership, I can apply those skills in future endeavors. That is the real point of BYUSA. That is what it means to me to “go forth to serve.”

Really though, how do you sum up a year that has changed you? How do you begin to acknowledge the infinite differences between who you were and who you are becoming? No word document or blog post could ever hold or express everything that I have learned this year. Tamara, Brandon, Olivia, Mallory, and Sarah were five of the greatest blessings I have ever had. I learned so much from each individual. Seriously. I laughed every single day. I was challenged and stretched and pushed and grew because of them. I had to look closely, but I found Zion. 3400 was consistently the best part of my day, and I looked forward to seeing these people – some of my best friends – and serving alongside them. Although it certainly wasn’t always that way, that is definitely how it will stick in my memory. Like Brigham Young, I know that this will always be one of my favorite leadership positions, even though I’m sure that there are many other opportunities that will come.

I have been thinking about writing this final reflection since August. It has taken on much more significance now that the experience is over. We have been talking about the end for months now, but this is really it. I will always swear by my previous statement that applying for ED was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made in my entire life. I am positive that it will continue to shape me and be a catalyst for future opportunities. It will continue to bless my life in quiet, sometimes invisible ways that will always be precious and very, very dear to my heart, just like each of you.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s