On November 16th, right before we began our Chartering Retreat, I got an email from the SigEp National Headquarters that kickstarted an incredible journey. Fast forward to January 31st, 2020: I’m in a van for seven-hours with all of exec and the best driver and chapter counsler ever, Abbey Rowe-Erwin. As we drove to Atlanta, accompanied by McDonald’s and endless laughter, I couldn’t help but be filled with excitement in anticipation for the coming weekend.
Honestly, I had no idea what to expect because it’s my second semester in SigEp and I hadn’t been to any conferences before Carlson. However, I certainly was not expecting to power pose—for what seemed to be an eternity—with over a hundred other brothers from Florida all the way to Virginia.
The reason that I was able to attend Carlson was because I was chosen to be a Hickman Scholar. Moreover, for the weekend, I was in the “Rising Leaders” track. Thus far, I was always told that leadership was a linear process, in that there is a set way to be successful. However, I didn’t know that way started with dancing. Not being much of a dancer, I found myself being out of comfort zone. But then our facilitator broke down a leadership triangle into three parts: knowledge, skill, and attitude—with attitude making up 85% of it. Moreover, I made a commitment to getting the most out of the conference by jumping out of my comfort zone.
When the first full day conference began, everything I knew about conventional leadership was challenged. We began with physical activity and then “started with why”. As a collective group we drew our Golden Circles: a three ringed model that starts with your why and then goes into the how and what of that same why. After finding a sense of purpose, we found out how we lead, based on the five principals of leadership. Based on a survey, I scored highest on the “Model the Way” style of leadership. Next, we were told to challenge ourselves and focus on our lowest scoring style—in my case this had been “Challenging the Process”. Furthermore, from then we were met with leadership challenges such as planning, the difference between collaboration and cooperation, delegation, and the executive committee.
I loved it.
The entire weekend was a full circle experience. It felt like just last week I was being interviewed for the Balanced Man Scholarship (BMS). I found myself talking to other scholarship chairs from all over the country about how to run a successful BMS as I am serving as the chair for the 2020 calendar year. I also found myself having intensive conversations with members of the SigEp Nationals Board, chapter advisors, and my brothers.
I would say the culmination of the weekend had been Saturday night. As Carlson ended, our Virginia Kappa chapter spent the night making memories and building lifetime bonds.
Overall, going to Carlson has been one of my highlights thus far in my SigEp experience. I met lifetime role models, grew not only as a person, but a brother, and learned a thing or two about dancing.