January 8, 2013
by Sam Davidson
Here’s a quick experiment you can try the next time you’re bored or have extra fruit on your hands:
Get a tomato. Squeeze it. Hard. What comes out?
Repeat with a banana.
Then, try a mango, avocado, or something even more exotic like a kiwi.
What came out?
This rudimentary science project should have produced similar results.
When you squeezed the tomato, I bet tomato came out. And when you squeezed the banana, my hunch is that banana came out. Mango came out of the mango, avocado out of the avocado, and kiwi out of the kiwi.
Now what about this—when you squeeze a leader, what comes out?
If you’re really a leader, then leadership should come out.
Leaders aren’t made in easy moments. Leaders showcase leadership when things get tough, when stress levels rise, when situations are tense. Or, when they’re emotionally, mentally, or socially “squeezed.”
Many times, we consider someone a leader on a campus through title only. And while being the president of something or the chair of everything will be nice to have on a resume, there’s no guarantee you exhibited leadership in any of those roles.
Your fraternity brothers really want to haze new members. Student government elections show that fewer and fewer people vote each year. Racism and sexism exist within your student organization. Homophobia or xenophobia are real and palpable problems on your campus.
Add to this the fact that you have midterms coming up, papers due tomorrow, a friendship that needs attention, and grad school applications to finish.
These aren’t situations to run from if you want to be a leader on your campus and beyond. In fact, these are the only situations that can produce leadership. They are tough to deal with, delicate to work through, and need the attention, detail, and care that only a dedicated leader can bring.
Lastly, in order to navigate these situations and make the kind of stand a leader must make, be prepared with a one-word answer. In these difficult circumstances, the clear stance you take by communicating your values often happens in one word. Words like:
These words don’t mess around. They’re clear, not open to interpretation, and draw a line in the sand to let others know where you are and where they need to be.
Leadership is tough. But it’s supposed to be. That’s the only way to showcase your leadership skills, and the only way to unleash the leadership potential within you.
Remember: an unsqueezed tube of toothpaste is useless. It’s only in the squeezing that its true value is realized.
Sam Davidson uses humor and stories (like the one above) to talk about leadership and impact in a way students listen to, remember and share with others.
Check out campuspeak.com/davidson to learn more about Sam and his available campus keynotes.
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