by Ali Winkeler, Theta Omicron – James Madison University
As a Leadership Consultant, I’m constantly on the move running from officer meetings, chapter events, switching states and time zones, so life can really fly by. When I sat down to write this blog, it was hard to believe that it’s been two months since we hit the road.
On the surface, I have learned the art of rolling two oversized suitcases through the airport, how to navigate any airport, and how to survive on almost no sleep (thanks recruitment!). When I started to really think about what I’ve learned in my two months of travel, I began to realize that this highly unconventional post-grad job has taught me more about myself and leadership than my whole college experience.
Here are my five lessons learned on the road:
1. Wherever you are, be all there.
Traveling every 5-7 days, trying to keep up with friends and family, and adapting to a new chapter each week can make you feel like your world is spinning. On my first few chapter visits, I remember thinking that I needed to have all the answers and handle each situation perfectly. I have learned that a chapter member doesn’t care if you can list a fact out of the COB, or if you have the perfect answer. She wants to be heard and feel valued. I have learned to be present in the moment and focus on what is directly in front of me, whether that’s being a cheerleader, mentor, or brainstorming solutions, rather than worrying about all the other responsibilities on my plate or achieving this “perfect LC” mentality that doesn’t exist.
2. Be flexible.
Flexibility is key to handling any day on the job. In college, I was the girl that used her planner like a bible and planned out my whole day. As an LC, your schedule and control over your day has been placed in the hands of the chapter that you’re visiting. From travel days to unexpected situations, curve balls are constantly being thrown at you, and you have to just go with the flow and accept that things will likely go different than expected.
3. Sisterhood has no boundaries.
One of my favorite things about this job is the opportunity to form close relationships with sisters across the country and get to know them on a deeper level that goes beyond their ADPi identity. Every week, I walk into a new chapter and am greeted by a unique group of sisters with backgrounds and experiences different than my own. We are able to build true relationships as we learn and grow together. This feeling of being at home in ADPi has transformed from just being something I experienced in my chapter to something that is felt across chapters, states, and timezones.
4. Always take time for yourself.
As an LC, it’s very easy to get wrapped up in everything that the job brings, but I have learned that it’s so important to take time for yourself – even if there’s only five free minutes in the day. You cannot be all there for someone else, if you are not taking care of yourself. While my idea of self-care is constantly evolving depending on where I am, it’s okay to hit the pause button.
5. Be patient.
When visiting a chapter, it’s so easy to get overly excited on potential changes and room for growth, that you feel like you can provide a solution for everything. As you brainstorm ideas and mentor women, you want to see these changes happen fast, but often times you aren’t around to see the end result. I have learned to view my role through a new lens, focusing on patience rather than speeding through to reach an end result. We are not moving mountains but planting seeds for growth. Progress and change don’t happen overnight. Be patient and trust the process.
I am so thankful for a year spent learning, growing, and traveling the road. Thank you ADPi for a year I will never forget.
Love and Loyally,
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