For seven years, I watched amazing people go through The Chamber’s Leadership program, and come out even more amazing on the other side, before I asked to be a part of it. I’ve see how many of the strongest leaders in our area have Chamber Leadership on the long list of accomplishments on their resumes. I’ve watched as they’ve done amazing things in our community. I’ve witnessed the incredible bond they share by the time they celebrate their success at a graduation ceremony.
After spending the last two days kicking off our program year with my classmates, I’m a bit giddy to be a part of it.
We played. Oh boy did we play. I’m 35 years old. My play consists of being Woody to my toddler’s Buzz Lightyear and the occasional live music concert downtown. For two days I have been making new friends and playing. We’ve played two truths and a lie (classic sleepover staple), completed a manic treasure hunt, formed circles and human chains, played with hula hoops and tennis balls, and ran obstacle courses. We’ve been up, out of our chairs and physical and it’s been a blast.
Leadership is a journey and none of us has arrived yet.
As the mom of two very little people, it’s been years since any of the attention I encounter has been about me. I’ve talked more about myself in two days than I have in the last 10 years. I anticipated the privilege of meeting and getting to know 34 new people and loved every minute of it. What I didn’t expect was how much I’d be encouraged to talk about myself. After two days of sharing my highest goals, my biggest fears and my favorite things about my life, I am feeling pretty good. It’s fun to share; fun to find common ground with others; fun to really be yourself.
I’ve witnessed the epitome of servant leadership and what it can mean to my community. As I watched Ron Offutt receive first The Chamber’s Legacy Leader Award, then the Teddy Roosevelt Rough Rider Award, I was awestruck by how one man has touched and made a difference to so many. I listened to a laundry list longer than Santa’s gift list of Chamber accomplishments and heard how it was all accomplished by engaged volunteers. I learned that through the course of my time in the Leadership program, I’ll have countless opportunities to serve and give back to my community.
“History will remember what we, with The Chamber’s driving force, have done to advance and improve the Fargo Moorhead West Fargo community.” – Ron Offutt
I’ve seen the impact of The Chamber. Participating in The Chamber’s Annual Meeting as a guest instead of a staff member opened my eyes to its strength. Everyone from my table mates to Mr. Offutt, to Governor Dalrymple shared feelings of connectedness to something big, important, positive and growing. And isn’t that what it’s all about? Joining our best forces to make this region an even better place for us all to be?
“The Chamber has got a great thing going and people aroung the great state of North Dakota are beginning to figure that out.” – North Dakota Governor Jack Dalrymple
Oh and I learned about leadership, too. The concepts were familiar from years of sitting through presentations. But putting them to the test through physically and emotionally challenging myself and those around me has been another story. I haven’t felt this ‘in it together’ since… I don’t remember when. I forgot how exhilarating it feels.
One last takeaway: by discovering how amazing it feels to hear people cheering my name in encouragement, I’ve discovered I need to cheer yours.
So here’s to new friends, new challenges and new perspectives. It’s going to be a great year!