Learning to Lead, Contribute from PULSE Conference
By Caroline Glaze
Attending the PULSE leadership conference at the beginning of the 2018 spring semester stands as an experience that I will cherish and remember for the rest of my life. The Ole Miss Women’s Council’s involvement and work to bring this program to the University of Mississippi is something for which I am very grateful.
The weekend kicked off with a session exploring participants’ individual strengths. Prior to the conference, we all had the opportunity to take a “strengths finder” test, which helped reveal our personal leadership and relationship strengths. This session was so enjoyable with its emphasis on the importance of capitalizing on areas each participant excels in instead of dwelling on the areas in which a person does not excel. I believe every student present benefited from this part of the weekend because Shawnboda Mead, the director of the UM Center for Inclusion and Cross Cultural Engagement Center, took time to focus on each potential strength and explain its significance.
Motivational speaker, life coach and author Randy Gravitt delivered the keynote address challenging us to take back our lives and find ourselves. His passion and drive were extremely inspiring and motivated me and many others to seek what we are meant to do in life. He spoke about “winning the first hour of the day” and “gaining traction” to help become “unstuck” in our lives. The PULSE conference’s first day was my personal favorite because I loved talking about individual strengths in small groups, and I felt as if I gained more self-awareness.
Day two also was exciting and enlightening. It started with a wonderful Chick-fil-A breakfast, so I knew the day was going to be a great experience! Participants were split into two groups. Each group heard Beverly Langford speak about communications and Lionel Maten on collaboration. Langford is the president of LMA Communication and Maten is the Ole Miss assistant vice chancellor for Students Affairs. These sessions were beneficial because they examined the importance of teamwork and relating to other people as both a leader and follower.
The final speaker of the day was EJ Presley, assistant director of the UM Career Center, and his focus was on the art of reflection and its importance in maintaining a balance in life. I remain intrigued by how much each of these topics are intertwined and how important each is to creating a successful leader.
The major aspects of leadership were addressed during the PULSE conference, and every participant left with incredible knowledge and insights they did not possess before. I would highly recommend this conference to any future sophomore because of the knowledge and confidence it provides in developing strong leadership skills. I now feel more confident in my ability to enter a room and take charge or sit back and contribute while another takes the lead. Leadership is not just about bossing people around and getting things done, but instead it involves inspiring and encouraging others to want to contribute and help.
Leadership can be service based or task based, but in all cases the person in leadership must be able to read the room and know how to maximize the success of every member of the team. This conference gave me the ability and the stepping stones to do these things positively and efficiently in my future projects.
Please allow me to say again that I am deeply grateful to have the opportunity to attend this conference and to benefit from the commitment of Ole Miss Women’s Council members, who work to enhance the development of students. They are enriching our lives and ensuring that we are well prepared to have meaningful lives and careers.