Nov 062005
Authors: Joanna Thomas, Caroline Welch

Some students kicked off their Saturday morning with rubber bands around their heads, stretching their faces and minds.

Students gathered at the annual University Leadership Conference to grow in their leadership abilities though speakers, workshops and team builders.

This year's conference, themed "Leadership as Life: Reaching Your Potential," featured keynote speaker Ray Aberle , assistant director of campus recreation and coordinator of the CSU Challenge Ropes Course.

Aberle started his keynote by asking students to wrap rubber bands around their heads, below their noses and attempt to move the band to their chin, and eventually to their necks. The activity, Aberle said, asked students to take a risk and look silly in front of other leaders they just met.

"Let's take risks," he said. "Let's have an adventure (at the conference)."

Speaking as a father, a businessman and an educator, Aberle described how leadership and culture are intertwined.

"At the heart of leadership is cultivation of culture," he said. "As leaders, how do we work to develop and sustain a culture?"

This leadership philosophy opens people up to new people and cultures, he said. Three aspects exist within this culture-based idea of leadership: four-direction leadership, mentoring and cooperation in an economy of abundance.

Four-direction leadership engages and fully relates to a person's whole self physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.

"When we ask people to show up with their brain, body, spirit and heart, they can't fake it," Aberle said. "They can't go through the motions."

Mentoring in its truest sense goes beyond facilitating and training, it's an adoption process, Aberle said. True mentors show the way, instead of just giving advice.

"The way, for me, means path. Path, for me, means journey, and my journey took a lot of pain, sweat and tears," he said.

Lastly, Aberle explained cooperation in an economy of abundance as "openness to create new and meaningful relationships and expose yourself to new cultures, arts and skills."

After his speech, students attended workshops on conflict, incorporating leadership skills in resumes and interviews, leaving a legacy at CSU and facilitation. During lunch, students learned new team builders and icebreakers.

In coordinating this event, senior business management major Trina Swenson said she wanted to help younger students gain leadership skills she lacked until now.

"There's not a lot in my toolbox for leadership," Swenson said. "I didn't get (leadership skills) figured out until my last two semesters, and that's not OK."

Although Swenson said she wanted to see three times the participation, there were benefits to a small group of 30.

"Had that been the case, we wouldn't be able to build this kind of community," Swenson said.

Samantha McDonnel, freshman chemistry major, said she left the conference motivated after being surrounded by and connecting with other student leaders.

"The biggest thing I took away was incorporating leadership into your entire life, even beyond college," McDonnel said.

Swenson said she wanted to get the leaders on campus without titles, who may not be aware of their leadership abilities.

"A lot of people believe they can't be a leader," Swenson said. "Everyone has the opportunity to lead. It's what lies within that makes a leader who they are."



 Posted by at 5:00 pm

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.