I am a leader.
I know I am a leader, because just this winter break, the powers-that-be saw fit to whisk me away to Indianapolis for an intensive Leadership Conference. My fellow leaders and I checked into our accommodations at Motelle VI, and at eight the next morning we were shown into a classroom, where we were fed bagels and warm orange juice and told to line up in order of birthday without speaking. This we did with ease. “Quickly, something more challenging!” I said.
And so we were given short lengths of PVC pipe, by means of which we were to negotiate a small rubber ball into a plastic bowl over a distance of some 20 feet. But wait!—the lengths of pipe stretched only for 10. What were we to do?
I'll admit that our Leadership Conference was briefly thrown into confusion, as competing stratagems were wantonly thrown about with no shortage of clamour—until I raised my voice above the general tumult and said, “Peace, fellow leaders! Let us communicate and work as a team, and perhaps we should not all talk at once.” My insight was immediately taken up with a great cheer by the multitude, which hastily devised a scheme whereby those pipes through which the ball had already passed…
Forgive me, I’ll not bore you with architectural details; suffice it to say that no ball has ever more speedily found the bottom of its plastic bowl; because I am a leader. Indeed, a leader among leaders.
But being a leader is not all fun and icebreaker games: A leader must lead with integrity and values. Back in the classroom, our Leadership Facilitator, his head with a tuft of grey hair, and his shirtfront with a floral-pattern tie crowned, distributed index cards amongst us, on which we were told to write our values, and whence we learned, and where exercised them. This done, he proceeded round the room with a trashbin, telling us to cast in the cards.
And then our Leadership Facilitator mounted the lectern, and made his pronouncement: “That’s what happens when you throw away your values. So don’t throw away your values.”
Things of this nature went on for 15 hours over three days. At the end I was awarded a Certificate of Excellence, which I put on my resumé.
I am a leader, and never was there a leader so finely-honed as I. For the synod at Indianapolis was not my first or my second, but my third experience of Leadership Training in the past semester alone. I still fondly remember the October day when, my head filled with plans for fundraisers and Faculty Interaction, I ventured into the Bryan Center to check the daily post and found my box crammed to capacity with a weighty parcel bearing all manner of frightful insignia.
“DEAR STUDENT LEADER,” read the enclosed missive, “YOU ARE INVITED TO A LEADERSHIP CONFERENCE FOR FRATERNITY PRESIDENTS AT THE MILLENNIUM HOTEL. FAILURE TO ATTEND WILL RESULT IN A FINE.”
Needless to say, I was overjoyed. When the day arrived, my fellow fraternity leaders and I were lavished with Mexican food, and then we spent a heady afternoon playing icebreaker games and discussing branding.
And then there was the e-mail I received not long after, from the Office of Student Activities and Facilities: “DEAR STUDENT LEADER,” it read, “YOU ARE INVITED TO A LEADERSHIP TRAINING SESSION FOR THE PRESIDENTS OF EXTRACURRICULAR ORGANIZATIONS. FAILURE TO ATTEND WILL RESULT IN A LOCK ON YOUR CLUBS’ ACCOUNTS.”
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And what a glorious evening that was. We whiled away the time with intensive discussions in rotating, color-coded groups of seven. As there was a great number of fellow-leaders, the color-codes were quite complex (involving several different shades of maroon), but we had very little difficulty, because we were leaders and the night was young.
All told, I am more than a man. Dozens of organizations have invested thousands of dollars on my training, and as I stand on the brink of my final semester, I know that I am a captain among men, an adept of the Action-Plan and the Power-Point, a master of the Leadering Arts. With a flick of my wrist I can reserve Von Cannon B, and with a nod of my head I can instantly summon to my dorm room 17 platters of the finest meats and cheeses in all the land.
You there: grovel.
You, to his right: dance a quadrille.
You, reading this column: read it again. Memorize it.
I said mem-or-ize it.
That is all.
Rob Goodman is a Trinity senior. His column appears Fridays.