Just Do It: Leadership and Your Comfort Zone

By: Luke Modzier 

So much of our lives nowadays are designed in ways that minimize our discomfort. Online shopping, drive-thru, and medicine are only a few examples of how our lives have been improved by the advances of ingenuity and technology. However, convenience has come at a price. We have become so accustomed to easily attaining anything we want that situations which require more effort than raising a finger are all of a sudden too difficult to be worthy of completion. This kind of thinking is very dangerous. The feeling of being uncomfortable is not something to avoid. As leaders, we should embrace these situations instead of shying away from them. I take that back. As leaders, it is our duty to seek out these situations and run full speed into them.

What is rarely seen in these uncomfortable situations is the opportunity for growth. It is only through scenarios that we’ve never dealt with before that we can learn anything new. Dealing with the same thing over and over again will result in the extreme specialization of our skills in a way that is not beneficial in any other situation. Sure you may be the best person in the world at one particular job, but what about when you’re done that job? What other skills have you developed that will help you thrive in other jobs? As scary as it may be to experience something new, it is a required aspect if we hope to increase our leadership skills.

Two summers ago I worked for New Student Orientation, a job I loved and was very good at. The second summer I worked there, however, office work was added to the list of job requirements. Part of the office work was answering phones when they rang, a task I dreaded. I actively avoided answering the phones while in the office out of fear of stepping out of my comfort zone. While it was much easier for me to duck out of the room when any phone rang than deal with the caller on the other end, I eventually realized this was doing more harm than good for myself and decided to make a change. I gathered up my courage, answered the next phone that rang, and guess what? It didn’t kill me! As surprising as it was to me at the time, in retrospect this act depicted the contrasting fantasy and reality of things we fear. In our minds we build up an idea of how awful or awkward a situation might be when in actuality, these ideas almost never come to fruition. The only thing that is needed for us to realize this is a moment of courage. Just one instant of bravado is needed for our minds to shift from fear to enjoyment in these situations. So the next time you ever fear something, remember that this fear is much worse than what the situation will actually be. Take a deep breath, muster up your courage, and dive right into the temporary discomfort only to discover the happiness on the other side. Fear and anxiety are inescapable, but this does not mean we have to live by their rules. Acknowledging this hesitation is a powerful way of recognizing what truly matters to you and realizing it is these situations which you must complete if you have any hope of growing as a leader.

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unnamedLuke Modzier is a School of Arts and Sciences senior majoring in Exercise Science and Sport Studies. Luke is currently a Resident Assistant, Intern at Rutgers Leadership and Training, and a member of the Rutgers crew team. After graduation, Luke plans on attending grad school to pursue a career in student affairs in higher education. 

Positivity and Leadership

By: Shawn Smith

When I was 17, my girlfriend and I had a rough breakup. I thought it was the end of the world and moped around for days. Finally, sick of seeing me being so negative, my mom told me that I would survive and that life gives us challenges so we can come out a better, stronger person. She said I shouldn’t concentrate on the negative, and instead, when faced with a challenge I should focus on the positives. I learned the hard way; it takes a lot of work to constantly be a positive person.

A few years ago, I faced the most difficult struggle of my life: dealing with the passing of my mom from cancer. She fought a long battle, and despite the overwhelming odds, she persevered to the very end. I remember she was in a coma in the hospital for an entire summer, and although doctors said over and over that she would not make it, one day she woke up. When I walked into her room to see if she was really awake, the first thing she did was smile.

My mother was my best friend. But at her funeral, I remembered that she wouldn’t want us to be sad, and as hard as it was, I smiled and remembered her positivity and outgoing personality. She wouldn’t have wanted us crying, but instead laughing and remembering all the good times we had. I do my best to make her proud on a daily basis and that includes being a positive person, no matter how hard life gets at times.

I’m not saying you have to go out and change your personality. I do, however, recommend stepping out of your comfort zone every once in a while. Smile more and frown less. Life is a stupid, beautiful, boring, amazing experience, and we only get to do it once. You can spend it thinking about the “what if’s,” or you could go out and make the best of it.

It’s easy to focus on the negatives in life. Focusing on the positives takes courage. But I promise you, life is so much more rewarding when you do not focus on the negative. If you get a bad grade on an exam, don’t let it stress you out. There will be other exams. There may be opportunities for extra credit. If you are dealing with a bad breakup, remember that people still love you for who you are. Family, who can sometimes be a pain in the butt, are these amazing people who are always there for you when you really need them.

Life will kick you when you’re down. It will pummel you until you feel like you can’t take it and then pummel you some more. Learn to just go with it. Some things are out of our control, as much as we would like them to be. Focus on what you can control. So you got a bad grade on an exam? Next time, study a little more and spend a little less time on Facebook or Reddit. I admit, I tend to get sucked into YouTube, and the next thing I know, five hours have passed, and I’ve watched every cat video available online. But if you actively focus on making every experience you have a positive one, things will get better!

Positivity can open up opportunities that you may not have even known about on campus. When I got to college, I initially thought I would go to class and that was it. But by opening myself up to new experiences, not all of them good, I was able to find my way in the University and make an impact on other peoples lives. Being positive has helped mold me into a leader, not only on campus, but in my personal life as well. Helping others and giving back to the community is much more rewarding than anything I could receive. If you are looking for ways to positively impact the community, start by just saying hello to someone on the bus. It may just change your life!

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964093_10150328509859955_1100577518_oShawn Smith is a senior at Rutgers University studying Journalism and Media Studies with a minor in General Anthropology. He is a site leader for the 2014 First-Year Leadership Alternative Break to Washington D.C., a Morale Captain for Dance Marathon and a Correspondent for The Daily Targum. Shawn also gives up his birthday every year for charity: water, an organization dedicated to solving the water crisis. He is always looking for ways to volunteer and inspire others!

Juggling Leadership Roles

By: Amber Danku

Once you get yourself into the student leader groove it’s one of the greatest feelings. Just knowing that you can have such an impact on campus can inspire you to take on more than one leadership role, a pretty common occurrence. In my own experience at Rutgers, I have always liked trying new things and being involved in different communities, which has led me to various roles in organizations, including sport clubs, directly advised groups, and event-based planning committees. Things can get tricky when dealing with multiple obligations, but it is not impossible to do. There are a few things I’ve learned along the way to help de-stress and stay organized.

Time Management: Everyone has his or her own way of staying organized. Personally, I use my apple calendar and color coordinate it 8 different ways, then it gets synced to my phone. Anyone else looking at my computer might see a rainbow of confusion, but I see work, meetings, and obligations. Find what works for you and stick with it. There are times where you might have 2 meetings in a row, are volunteering straight from work or are staffing an event that can turn your usual day into a 15 hour involvement extravaganza. Plan ahead for days with heavy volunteering, and manage your time wisely. Don’t forget to eat, sleep, and do the things functioning human beings usually do.

Know When to Put Yourself First: Holding down multiple forts can lead to times of stress when leadership commitments mix with exams, personal problems, and unexpected issues. Your health is still more important than anything you can commit yourself to. Find what helps you de-stress and keep it easily accessible. Play your guitar, go running, binge watch Doctor Who episodes, whatever your thing is that helps you relax, do it. No one is a machine, and no one wants to see you self-destruct, so stay involved, but stay healthy while doing so. It’s important to remember that you are a person first, not just a combination of your titles.

Ask For Help When You Need It: Sometimes being a student leader also means knowing when to let someone else take the lead. What I mean is that there are times that you might not hold the solution to the problem even though you are the President or Treasurer, etc. Look to your committee, team, general members, and your advisors, especially, if you need help. A common mistake I made was thinking that since I took on these positions, I alone was going to fulfill what I needed to get done. The organization you are apart of is bigger than just you. If you remember that, and the reason behind why your organization exists, it makes it a lot easier to ask for help, before you drown.

Holding multiple positions is hard, but not impossible. So take that nap when you need it, ask for help, and plan out your weeks, because if anyone can do it, you can.

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image (1)Amber Danku is a senior double majoring in English and Communication with a Certificate in Creative Writing. Amber works as a Consultant with New Brunswick Computing Services on Livingston Campus. In the past, she served as the Promotions Captain for the Mark Conference and as a New Student Orientation Leader. Currently, Amber is the President of the Club Gymnastics Team, an Events Chair for the Off-Campus Students’ Association, and is on the planning committee for Geek Week.