Saturday, January 30, 2010

Leadership with Open Eyes

Today was the Motar Board Leadership Conference, or MBLC. First off, I'd like to make a confession, as I have never actually attended it before and this was my first time and I was working it. Anyways, it was great!

I was one of the speaker hosts for Dr. Paul Robinson who is a joint professor in both the Engineering College and the School of Veterinary Medicine here at Purdue. His topic was about setting goals and then how to achieve them. He was a great speaker with an awesome Australian accent, which was sweet and reminded me of my Australian friends I made in Ireland.

But here is where the title of my blog comes into play. Originally, Robinson spoke of an initial goal or 'task' that he was confident he could accomplish - creating a low-tech, low-cost diagnostic technology for HIV/AIDS testing in Africa. Half of the problem is detection. He talked about how he pounded away at it for over a year with not much success, so he sat back and reevaluated and decided to climb Mt. Everest instead, as in 20,930ish meters high, ya, that Mt. Everest, to raise awareness of his original goal.

He had great tips on persevering, taking it one step at a time, relying on your team and learning from your failures. But what I saw in him personally at the end of his talk and being able to have some one-on-one time with him was his overall attitude and charisma. Now, I did not know Paul before he climbed the mountain, but he even confessed to being a different person after climbing the mountain. And that overall joy and exuberance just flooded out of him. And now he has returned to his original task with a different mindset about it.

Now, I didn't climb Mt. Everest, but I really see this past year as my 'Everest.' I have come back a much more relaxed and confident person. Recognizing and relying in my capabilities in order to get a task done and just to live my life in a better way on a day to day basis.

At the afternoon closing session Keith Krach spoke, who is the Chairman of the Board of Trustees for Purdue University. You have to google this guy! His accomplishments in the business world are ridiculous! He was an amazing speaker, my favorite of the day. There were three keys that I took away from his talk and the first was the fact that he placed values right underneath vision when developing yourself and your leadership characteristics and goals. The second point that I liked in his talk was that he described his father as the best leader that he has ever known because he was someone that everybody liked to be around. Lastly, he talked about his junior high basketball days when trying to figure out why his teammate always had more points than him. After watching game footage, he realized it was what his teammate was doing when he didn't have the ball that put him in great position to be successful. What are you doing when you don't have the ball?

So between these two speakers, I got some great advice about leadership and really just how to live my own personal life. Even though the day started out early for me, I managed to keep my eyes open and now have a slightly different perspective on what leadership is and how I can apply that to my life.

I hope y'all are having a great weekend and that my friends down in Texas are staying safe and warm with all of the snow y'all have down there :)


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