10 Things I’ve Learned from Being President
Today marks the end of my fifth trimester of chiropractic college! I have completed a full half of my doctoral education now, and gained incredible perspectives and experiences. But far from being limited to the classroom, a great portion of these lessons come from outside experiences.
One of my greatest opportunities was as president of the New York Chiropractic College chapter of the Student American Chiropractic Association, or SACA. I arrived at NYCC just waiting for the chance to get into a leadership position, somewhere that I could put my excess of ideas and energy to use beyond the confines of campus. After the March 2013 National Chiropractic Legislative Conference in Washington, DC, the SACA leadership announced elections on the long bus ride home. A relatively unknown second-trimester newbie on a bus full of much more experienced students, I nonetheless put in my name, and stood up to nervously share my vision for better communication with the student body and…
Actually, I’m not sure what else. I kind of blacked out. But my autopilot mode must have managed to say something useful, because they elected me. Thus started a year of amazing lessons in diplomacy, public speaking, vision, delegating, and decision making. Here are some of the patterns I slowly picked up that have driven the way I approach each day.
- Assume competence. It is not always safe, but with a limited amount of time, delegation is essential. Not everyone is reliable; delegate anyway. Others will step up or step out, and consistently involving others raises the standard for everyone.
- Have vision. Maybe it is fixing something that doesn’t work. Maybe it is creating something all new. If you know what you want, you will be able to conjure it on the spot and guide the group best. Nobody else will hand you your goals, and, trust me, that’s just the way you want it.
- Your goals are worthy. If you want it, chances are, other people do, too, and they elected you because they like the way you think.
- Be bold. Not every decision has a right answer, and sometimes you just need to make a choice and move forward.
- Just because nobody has done it, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t. It will probably be way harder than you think it should be, but it creates something new for everyone who comes after you. (Conversely, scrapping old things is pretty great sometimes, too.)
- Be flexible. Your plans will not always work out, but there’s a much better chance if you are willing to change. Remember the spirit of your goals, and let the details shape themselves.
- Pretend to be organized. You’ll feel like a mess, and maybe that meeting agenda or speech plan was just barely thrown together, but nobody else has to know that.
- Be sensitive to the way others perceive… everything. Try to cater to their needs, and communicate in ways that make their life as easy as possible.
- Be human. You are not a superhuman, and neither are your fellow students. Even full-time administrators are human. If this reality check sounds like a disheartening addition to a motivational list, remember that humans are amazing.
- Be good to yourself! You can’t take care of others optimally unless you are well-cared-for yourself. Sleep well, eat well, and remember to breathe. Make yourself your own patient, you’re going to be a doctor!
The best parts of my experience, though, can not be communicated as bullet points. The friendships that I built around the campus and around the country are truly the best part. That part easily outlasts a title every time.