From Thursday, February 13th through Sunday, February 16th, I had the distinct pleasure of facilitating at the Delta Gamma Institute in Columbus, OH, where thousands of women from across the United States gathered to hone their leadership skills and advance Delta Gamma's mission and values.
Although the Institute is targeted for undergraduate women, I couldn't help but take away three leadership lessons of my own.
Lesson #1: “People don't care how much you know until they know how much you care.” -Theodore Roosevelt
At the beginning of the Institute, I found a number of people asking me how I came to present at a leadership institute where the five male facilitators were outnumbered by women by an approximate 1:200 ratio.
I oftentimes stumbled over a response about the number of Delta Gamma women I count among my friends, mentors, and colleagues, or about my experiences partnering with Delta Gamma in the past, but I missed the bigger picture. These women didn't care who I knew or who I was or what I had done; they wanted to know that I believed in Delta Gamma, and by extension, that I believed in them.
Lesson #2: "If you think you can do a thing or think you can't do a thing, you're right." -Henry Ford
At lunch on Saturday, I heard Megan, a student from the University of Minnesota, inspire hundreds of women with her personal story of commitment, courage, dedication, leadership, and strength. The hallways and the meeting rooms were abuzz for hours after she shared her story.
However, that night, I facilitated a small group where students were encouraged to share ideas about challenges in their chapters and communities. I was struck by one woman who was struggling with implementing a new policy within her community. She said, "I can't tell my women what they can and can't do."
I happen to know a little about that woman's community, and how far they have come in the last 12 years, and I shared that perspective with her. She doesn't have to perform miracles, I told her, but it is up to her to keep things moving in a positive direction.
We are our own greatest inhibitors. Before we can do anything, we have to believe we can do it.
Lesson #3: "There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them." -Bruce Lee
It is easy to go on auto-pilot, to participate in an incredible, inspiring experience such as the Delta Gamma Institute, and then return home to our everyday lives, where we are consumed by our daily to-do lists and the drama of our everyday lives.
I think about all of the time and energy that countless Delta Gamma staff and volunteers poured into this experience, and my hope is that it makes a difference, not because Delta Gamma is in dire need of change or improvement, because it is an exceptional organization.
My hope is that the Institute makes a difference because Delta Gamma, all the way to each of its individual members, has the potential to be even better tomorrow than it was today.
I believe in Delta Gamma.