Playing to your strengths

In the spring semester of 2012, I recall frantically dropping an extremely difficult genetics course.

My minor was biology, which had actually been my major to begin with. I changed that within a year of my studies at East Tennessee State University. Anyway, I realized after five semesters of biology-major courses that I was not suited for that field of work.

I couldn’t handle the demands of taking two or more science classes per semester. I excelled in two things: being a passionate writer and helping others. So, I came to the conclusion that I needed a major more suited for my passions (Mass Communications with a focus in Journalism).

As I came to this conclusion, I was strolling down the halls of Warf Pickel, pondering how I could find a minor that had the minimum hour requirements. I desperately wanted to be able to graduate on time.

I quickly glanced to my left at a board outside of one of my classes I had that evening, and what I saw changed my life.

The board was filled with information about a new minor program called Leadership. I thought, “Huh. How could someone minor in that?” Then I noticed it only required 21 credit hours. It was perfect. (A sign from God, if you will)

I picked up the flyer and emailed Dr. Harley almost immediately on my phone. The excitement overcame me. I had found something that seemed useful to my major and would allow me to graduate in May 2013.

I signed up for four classes under the minor for the 2012 fall semester. They all sounded interesting and, well, frankly like they would be an easy workload for my senior year. What came next, I would have never expected.

My minor courses included Introduction to Ethics, Cultural Diversity, Introduction to Leadership Studies and Leadership Effectiveness. I had my minor advisor, Dr. Harley, for both Leadership Studies and Leadership Effectiveness.

I was expecting just another boring first week of school. I planned on the usual, going into a new class, getting a syllabus and doing some sort of “Hey, my name’s Katie and I’m a Journalism Major” type deal.

I walked into Leadership Studies (my only Monday class, which also happened to be a night class that met once a week) and saw maybe six people in the class.

I was pleased. Personally, I prefer smaller classroom settings where you get to know each other and build lasting relationships with teachers (a.k.a. references for future jobs).

Dr. Harley was there and she had a huge smile on her face. She was very inviting and enthusiastic. Those are good traits in anyone.

She did what I thought she would. She handed out a syllabus and we did a “meet and greet” game. The next day I went into her other class, Leadership Effectiveness. The same thing occurred and a few of the same people were in the class, as well.

After a few weeks passed, I noticed a difference in how I was doing things. I had changed my habits in my home life, personal relationships, school and work. I was doing the things I had learned in her leadership courses without thinking twice about it.

I had a planner and a daily journal. I even added an app on my phone for note taking and things of that sort. I had become organized (which was a feat for me).

You probably don’t know this, but I like everything planned and done a certain way. If there’s a change to be made, I better be informed of it with enough time to adjust into a new plan.

I started paying attention to how others I worked with behaved and even spoke. I was categorizing them as an Analyzer, Organizer, etc. From that, I would email those individuals different messages that would cater to their personalities.

If you want to know more about that or you are completely confused, you’ll have to take leadership classes. *Smirks and laughs maniacally*

By the end of this semester, I have learned so much about myself, and how I act as a leader and follower in the personal and business parts of my life.

For anyone who is even remotely interested in furthering him/herself as a more functional human being, I advise you try a leadership class with Dr. Harley. You’ll be benefited greatly. You may even make a choice to double-minor or change your minor to Leadership all together.

Either way, I hope these classes impact your life as much as mine.

Good luck everyone!

-Katie

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