Leadership Centre County: Understanding the strength of working together

In mid-January, the Leadership Centre County class of 2015 participated in the Community Leadership Skills Program Day.

I couldn’t have imagined a better way for the class to start the New Year. So often people begin a new year with resolutions for self-improvement with no real plan in place to support successfully achieving their resolution. Although this program day was not necessarily about resolutions, it was filled with tools and practical applications to create effective change in our personal lives, our careers and our community.

The day began with Discovering Our Strengths (Now). Having completed the Strengths Finder Assessment, we entered the day with the list of our top five strengths in hand. I imagine most of us were not particularly surprised by the results and probably thought we had a good understanding of “who” we are. However, presenter Paul Hilt, guided us through a series of exercises that helped (and challenged) us to see how these strengths are constantly at play in our experiences. Also enlightening was a mapping exercise which illustrated that no strength is ever at work individually…rather there is a constant interconnectivity between our core strengths and thus to the outcome of all our experiences.

We then joined the LCC alumni at the 4th annual alumni luncheon. It’s amazing what was packed into an hour and fifteen minutes. Talking with alumni always heightens my excitement for the rest of the program days. Networking aside, this is indeed a fellowship. Michael Paul, director of the Penn State Lunar Lions, impressed us with the work of amazingly talented young people; reminded us that the qualities of millennials and leaders are quite similar and encouraged us to make room for millennials in our organizations and our communities. Finally presentations were made honoring the support received from longstanding program sponsors.

The afternoon began with a review of the Soul of the Community report by the Knight Foundation. Using concerns about the community raised at the retreat, we spent time brainstorming ideas to resolve the areas of concern. The list of ideas flowed freely from the class and no idea was too great or too small. In the small group, it was initially a challenge to get all on one accord. However, armed with the tools of how to put our individual core strengths to work, the group’s ability to find consensus and a commitment to the success of an idea that would ultimately benefit the community was completely affirming.

We closed the day with a session on “Finding Time for What Matters Most.” Dr. Peter Montminy presented steps that helped us take an honest look at how and where we spend time and how we prioritize to what we give our time based on aligning our values with our priorities.

This program day provided lessons that are still resonating with me.

When it comes to (re)-claiming time, if it’s broke, fix it. We shouldn’t continue to give our time away to things that don’t support our well-being. It’s cliché, but we are our best for others when we take time to be good to ourselves.

Understanding how our own core strengths are at work is only half the process. We must also understand that others will inevitably have strengths that are different than our own. Recognizing these differences as strengths rather than challenges will foster a positive environment in our work, our communities and even our homes.

The true soul of our community is in each one of us as alumni, class members and future members to commit to giving back to this community that has so much to give to us.