Meet the Interns: Krista

KristaPicWe are excited to announce that two new interns have joined our team and we want you to meet them. Let’s begin with Krista!

Hi, my name is Krista! I go to Marquette University in Milwaukee, WI. I’m an incoming senior pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in Advertising with a double minor in Marketing and Digital Media. I’m involved with Marquette Volunteer Corps as a Team Leader and the Wakerly Media Lab as a Creative Media Associate. I love exploring new places, listening to music (and making too many Spotify playlists), and sitting at local coffee shops drinking chai lattes. My family consists of my younger brother, my mom and dad, and my crazy doggy.

How did you get connected to LeaderShape?
I saw a poster about LeaderShape at school, and I kept getting emails about it. So I decided to apply. I had no idea what to expect, but it was the best decision I made at Marquette thus far. They tell you it’ll be a “life-changing” experience, they weren’t kidding, it was life-changing!

What is something from your involvement from LeaderShape that you continue to apply or work towards in your life?
I’m drawn toward social justice advocacy. LeaderShape gave me a voice to speak out for those who cannot. It made me learn how to be an inclusive leader, and lead with integrity.
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Tell us about your personal hero.
A woman named Ann. She works as a volunteer coordinator for the Milwaukee Jail Visiting Program. She’s been involved with the jail since the 1970’s, offering an outlet for inmates to find hope again. Many of the inmates do not have visitors, and I had the opportunity to work with Ann and be a part of the Visiting Program this past spring. Ann is a Godsend for these men and women in the jail. She is making a positive impact on so many lives, and simply does it out of the goodness of her heart. She’s a social justice warrior, and definitely one of my heroes.

If you could speak to everyone in the world at the same time, what would you say?
Always look for the good, rather than the bad. Be fueled by love, rather than hate.

Could you share a quote that you find particularly motivating or inspiring?
“Surround yourself with the dreamers and the doers, the believers and thinkers, but most of all, surround yourself with those who see the greatness within you, even when you don’t see it yourself.”

We know you have a pretty full schedule. If you were given a completely free day, with no obligations, what would you do?
Go exploring! Try new things, take pictures of beautiful places, and spend time with the ones that mean the most to me.

Anything else you want to add?
Get involved with something new – no matter what it might be. It’s important to step out of your comfort zone and say yes to the things that would normally scare you. Who knows, you might just love it! As the saying goes, you’ll never know until you try.

Friday 5: 5 Ways to Live Compassionately

What does it mean to have compassion?

In very simple terms, it means to seek to compassionblog-post-imageunderstand the life of another person. Whether the person be in your life for years or just a moment, the interaction they have with you is one in which they are valued, heard, and appreciated. Why is compassion important? Because everyone suffers. Everyone. Not everyone’s suffering is the same but regardless of the cause of that suffering, we can all relate to that feeling of pain. When we see that in each other, our hearts are opened to the possibility that we are a lot more alike than we are different.

How then do we live compassionately? Here are a few thoughts…

Withhold judgement. It is easy to see the “perfect” family picture on Instagram and quickly craft a story about that person’s experience, thinking that their life is perfect and they don’t face any trials. It is just as simple to have an interaction with a co-worker who seems agitated and jump to conclusions about them as a person. Don’t craft the story in your head, let the story unfold as the other person wants to share it.
Serve without the expectation of getting anything in return. Let’s be honest, deep down we are all a little selfish and often want to do things because of what we get in return. Put those feelings aside and as you see a need and serve. Don’t boast about it. Don’t expect anything in return. And then when it is over, think about the time you spent serving and what it meant for those you were with.
Be vulnerable. Being with someone as they face a challenge in life is difficult and it can trigger emotions that we would rather not recognize. When a friend gets expelled from school because of academic failure and you are with them when they tell their parents, it requires you to be present and be in the moment with them. Don’t back away from the opportunity to share your emotions, feelings, and experiences. Doing so can create a space for others to do the same. It can show others that no matter what hurt or hang-up they have, they are important to you.
Wish others well. When a car cuts you off in traffic, the first thought in your mind may not be one of good wishes. But what if it was? And not in a sarcastic way – but one of true thoughtfulness. As we go through our days, we interact with many people that we know nothing about. From the cashier at the movie theater to the telemarketer that calls every single week to ask us to change our cable service, they each have a story. What if my reaction was first one of well wishes before one of frustration? It can change the way you see people because your first thought is one of positivity and not frustration.
Practice Self-Compassion. All of the concepts above can be applied to you as well. We are often our own worst critics and, when the world around is also judging us, there can be little escape. So be kind to yourself. See the goodness that you bring to the lives of others. Take time to heal the hurts of your own life.

How will you practice compassion in the coming days? Tell us in the comments!

Kristen Young serves as Senior Vice President at LeaderShape. She is a lifer at LeaderShape! Her first experience with LeaderShape was as a participant and she hasn’t left since!  Outside of work, Kristen is a wife and mother who tries every day to live a life lead by her values and embracing the joy that can come from the ordinary. 

Being Visionary

During the month of May, there will be 38 sessions of the Institute held all around the country! Somewhere around 2,000 people will spend six days considering how they can lead and live with integrity, hold a healthy disregard for the impossible, and work towards a vision that is rooted in their most deeply held values.

Creating a vision is an exciting, challenging, and moving part of the week. It pushes each of us to consider how we want to make a positive impact in the world based on what we care about most.

Beyond the actual vision that this exercise helps us to create, participants are taught a process that can move them from having a vision to being visionary! We are grateful to have visionaries in the LeaderShape community and want to introduce you to one of them.

faceMeet Varun Arora! Varun is the CEO at OpenCurriculum, a California-based nonprofit education technology company that is helping K-12 teachers all around the world teach better. In 2011, Google named him a Zeitgeist Young Mind. Varun has a Bachelors and Masters in Information Systems Management from Carnegie Mellon University and participated in the Institute in Doha, Qatar in 2009. This is what he has to say about being visionary. 

What does being visionary mean to you?
It actually is quite contradictory what it sounds like. It means being so so so close to the hopes, desires, and aspirations of the people whose lives you care to affect that you are able to see for their future what they are incapable of seeing themselves. And then believing in that future more than they can.

What do you think it takes for someone to have a visionary mindset?
A visionary mindset is a very hard skill be good or maintain because it requires a lot of work to build. It’s different from dreaming; dreaming involves casually thinking about a utopian future, but doesn’t actually focus on you understanding how to get from where you are to where you want yourself or your community to be in the future.

In my opinion, here are the quintessential traits a visionary mindset:

Discipline & focus
A visionary operates in the framework of the existing state of the world. To be able to imagine and create the future, he/she needs to understand the past and present in great depth and have a grounded understanding of why it is that something that does not work according to how he/she wishes it could. It takes enormous determination and effort to avoid distractions in this process of building understanding and making oneself skilled enough to do something about it. Distractions are hard to avoid because the entirety of human energy around you is hung up on the status quo.

It takes years and years of hard-work, and that’s only if you get lucky very often.

Practice
A vision is not something you see once and come back to on weekends or during “free time”. It is something you practice and improve upon every single waking minute. You practice the skills and tools at your disposal to achieve change. You practice how to deal with critique of your vision. You practice patience. You practice grit. Many of these skills are counter-intuitive, and thus, a visionary mindset isn’t something you have or don’t have, it is something anyone can build with hard-work, tradeoffs, and sincerity.

Progression
A vision is never static in nature. To conceive a complete change in how humans would behave or act in the future is impossible without making progress every single day towards that vision and evolving oneself and planned milestones during that journey. A vision is never achieved in its entirety – ever. Achievement is measured in progress towards that vision. A vision is only as beautiful as the progress made towards it.

What does being a visionary mean to you?
We hope you’ll share your thoughts in the comments!