Posted August 7, 2015 by Ben Williams 

I-LEAD®: The Power of Four Words

Last week I had the opportunity to return to the Institute for Leadership Education and Development (I-LEAD®) as a facilitator after attending as a student in 2012. The experience as a student was transformative, but as a facilitator it was Full Post-Itawe-inspiring. I-LEAD® for me was a moment where my decision to go into student affairs was affirmed. The power of our profession is demonstrated through this program that brings over 100 strangers together and ends with friendship, community building, and a call to change the world.

Returning as a facilitator was nerve-wracking, exciting, and impactful in ways that I never imagined. As a person who went through the program, I was terrified I could negatively impact the experience of students in my small group, but luckily it all worked out. In addition, facilitating provided challenges to how I understood vulnerability, student engagement, and the process of the I-LEAD® program.

So now to those four words referenced in the title. One of the activities in the later part of the week involves students writing on sticky notes people who had made an impact, challenged the process, what they are taking back to campus, and the one thing that they will leave I-LEAD® with. On one of the boards as I walked through the room a note caught my eye. It read, “That I am enough.”  

Now I’ll admit I am the guy who always has something in my eye when I receive a note from a student or watch Marley and Me, but that moment brought out all the feelings I had. As a young professional, the experience, the amazing support I received from the other facilitators when I practiced vulnerability, and the way students opened up to me showed that I too was enough. However, to know that an individual was leaving the program feeling and articulating that they are enough is a powerful testament to the structure, facilitators, and curriculum that guide the experience.

So why then am I sharing this story with you? First, I hope as we begin for the intense opening of residence halls, campus programs, and the stress of a New Year beginning that moments like this can offer a way to stay grounded in the work we do. Individuals were in Grand Junction, Colo., for six days, imagine the impact of the next six months can have. Secondly, I am often asked why I started the Knot Club and why I would ask students, professionals, and others for money to support scholarships to this program. … Well, I think the four words on a post it sum it up better than I ever could. Finally, I share this because as someone who struggles to “be enough” this is a beautiful reminder that by showing up, caring for our students, and pushing them, I learned that I am enough and that we as educators play a role in supporting students, colleagues, and others knowing that they too are enough.


Ben Williams

Ben Williams is the Associate Program Director at Georgia Institute of Technology.

Comments

Ben, Thanks for sharing! I'm so glad to have experience this year with you - and to know that you are growing each day! You are always enough, and much more! Erin :-)
Comment posted 08/11/2015 2:33 PM
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