President’s Day – Leadership Profile

Leadership. It’s an interesting concept. At least, to me, it is extremely fascinating.  What is it about one person that makes other people follow him or her? How can one person convince others to follow their ideas? There are so many different types of leadership styles. It amazes me the causes that people will get behind based upon the charisma or convincing of leaders. Someone like Prince Charles has been groomed for a leadership role his entire life and not by his choice. In the United States, ideally, individuals chose to become society and political leaders and can work their way through the ranks to get there. However, the rise to leadership isn’t always so concise as a few of our presidents show. George Washington, as the first president, had nothing to guide him and everything to impact in American politics. Theodore Roosevelt became president upon the assassination of William McKinley. Harry Truman succeeded Franklin D. Roosevelt after he passed form illness not long after his fourth term began. Each of these men, in a sense, was thrust into the presidency and the highest level of American leadership. Their leadership abilities, already in place with their characters, assisted them in succeeding as president.

George Washington set his unique place in history as soon as he accepted the presidency as he was the first president of the United States. His reputation as a leader is what led to the unanimous support behind him as president. That style of leadership was rooted in strong moral character, an unselfish nature, self-control, and a level of basic respect for everyone. It kept troops loyal to him at the crossing of the Delaware River when they were considering leaving. Political minds greater than his surrounded him, but it was Washington that was considered a genius and a visionary when it came to leadership. Additionally, the quality of his character set him apart. As a visionary leader, Washington was quite capable of setting long and short term goals and developed the role and culture of president in ways still used today.

“But lest some unlucky event should happen unfavorable to my reputation, I beg it may be remembered by every gentleman in the room that I this day declare with the utmost sincerity, I do not think myself equal to the command I am honored with.” George Washington

Theodore Roosevelt was another visionary leader as president and outside the presidency. I find him to be absolutely fascinating and underrated as a figure in American history. His leadership truly developed on the fly during the Spanish-American War when he led the Rough Riders, a volunteer cavalry. Roosevelt’s leadership style was evident here; he placed others before himself and acted alongside the others which resulted in lifelong loyalty from some of the Riders. A key component of leadership is doing alongside those you lead, rather than just telling how to lead, you show it. As a leader, he recognized the importance of continuing to learn and being flexible with those who disagreed with you. These are important qualities for a leader. Continuing to learn helps keep the skillset and mind sharp. Meanwhile, flexibility with those who disagree with you is extremely important because it shows an open mind and openness to ideas. As a leader, it is important to remain flexible and able to think outside the box. His other accomplishments represent his ability to lead. He was the first American to receive the Nobel Peace Prize and developed foreign policy in new ways for American, including the mantra “speak softly and carry a big stick.” As president, he also started the Panama Canal project, negotiated the Pure Food and Drug Act with Congress which continues to impact Americans, and did acts which protects natural resources, forests, and parks.

“But lest some unlucky event should happen unfavorable to my reputation, I beg it may be remembered by every gentleman in the room that I this day declare with the utmost sincerity, I do not think myself equal to the command I am honored with.” Theodore Roosevelt

Finally, Harry S. Truman had a tough act to follow. He became president after the death of the popular, four term, Franklin Roosevelt. Truman was definitely thrust into the presidency; there were many things that Roosevelt did not privy his vice president to which impacted his transition into the presidency. As for his leadership style, Truman was a realist. He kept his boots on the ground. He valued honesty, humility, and taking responsibility – such as he did with the dropping of the atomic bombs, noting that the “blood was on his hands.” Truman didn’t worry about being popular with the people, but with doing the right thing. By utilizing HeH Herbert Hoover as a resource, he reconciled him with the American people and also started the “President’s club,” which is a resource still used by presidents today (There is an excellent, long book called “The President’s Club: Inside the World’s Most Exclusive Fraternity” which explains this institution and its role.). Truman also recognized the limits to his power and the separation between his position and the institution. As a leader, it is important to recognize the limits of yourself. Truman was considered a “leader’s leader,” President Jimmy Carter considered him to be his “favorite leader of the 20th century.”

“It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit.” Harry Truman

I admire all three of these men as leaders, and find each of them to be interesting characters. There is much that we can learn from history when it comes to leadership, and I hope you enjoy this first leadership profile. I would like to write more on leadership, the different styles, and profiles of various historical leaders. Who is your favorite leader?

Peace and Love,

Vic Mik

Creative Writing Sharing

So, back when I was in high school, I used to write a lot of poetry. Unfortunately, I don’t know what where much of it ended up. Lately, I’ve wanted to dabble in it again and tonight finally some of the words started to flow. I don’t know exactly where these particular words came from, but it isn’t the first time that has happened. I haven’t written in a long time, so here we are.

These are the things that I can never say to you.

The words that’ll finally tell you how I feel.

That what I feel isn’t just a passing whim but

That we could’ve been the real thing.

Real! All it takes is the scent of you.

A million feelings, a million thoughts all coming rush through a single breath.

Real. Yes, we were very real.

Whether you see it or not, we were real.

You chose the other way.

Broke my heart into a million pieces, it did.

Hearing that you still wanted me just caused those healing bits to fall apart.

The pain in my chest was very real.

I was trying to do the right thing.

It was the hardest choice I’ve ever made. Would I ever take it back?

Oh love, what a crazy, stupid thing.

Oh love, how very real mine is for you.

But I don’t know if I could take it back.

This is one time I can’t listen to my heart.

There are still beats for you.

But you made a different choice.

And that’s the reality for you.

So, slowly, eventually, I’ll move on from you.

Yes, one day I will.

Put those pieces back together,

And keep my heart away from you.

Maybe tucked away, there’ll still be

A spot in my heart for you.

But I have to close my eyes to it.

And pretend it isn’t real.

Why Reaching Out is Hard to Do

This past week, an acquaintance of mine committed suicide. It wasn’t someone I knew very well, but, as is often the case, I felt an impact by his loss. I felt the familiar dread in my stomach and the scars on my arm seemed to be much more prevalent in my eyes than normal. I couldn’t imagine what he was feeling at the end, or the sense of loss and confusion that his family was facing. On social media, I saw individuals posting about how anyone who needed someone could reach out to them. At that, I felt like my stomach had dropped off of a building or that I was a deer in the headlights.

At times, there is nothing more terrifying than reaching out.

            That might seem a little ridiculous to some, how can reaching out be an issue? Don’t you want someone to talk to? Well, yes. But the idea that our fears and disease are irrational – that we are overreacting, that they won’t understand, that they will hate us or view us as pathetic for how we feel, all become front and center. You feel like it is insignificant and that you are only bothering them. Even writing about how it makes me feel makes me uncomfortable. Often, probably too often, I keep my thoughts to myself. Too many times I have reached out to a friend and received a negative reaction that, essentially, I should get over it or I was being ridiculous in some way. Hell, I don’t even like talk therapy and that is paying someone not to judge you, and there’s still times I wish I could spill out everything I’m feeling.

I don’t doubt that most people have good intentions. Most people want to help others. Most people would do anything to help someone make a different choice. However, I know I have been hurt too many times by reaching out that it makes it hard for me to reach out again, and it makes me afraid of how being rejected like that will be again. I have two friends in particular who have stressed more than one that they are there for me no matter and that I can always reach out for them. One has very much iterated that they are there no matter what, and I don’t doubt it. I believe them both that I could, but that doesn’t stop me from being afraid. And I don’t go to them when I need to, even though I know that they can help. And I know that I’m not the only one who feel like this.

Right now, you might be wondering what the hell my point is. It is simple, really. Don’t be offended or surprised when people don’t reach out. I have wanted nothing more to talk to someone, but not really known how to. It’s like talking to a wall. Here’s something I think might be a little bit more effective instead. Reach out to someone. Even something as simple as a hey, how’s it going? Maybe it’s a friend you haven’t talked to someone, just say that it has been awhile and you want to catch up. That can help make a crack in that wall. Maybe it’ll let a little light in. It can be really tough to know what the right decision is. But reaching out a helping hand can’t hurt. Even if someone says they don’t want to talk about their issue, more likely than not, it means the world to them that someone reached out. Mental illness is a very confusing thing. And there are no two cases alike. That makes it even harder to try and help someone. It’s not just hard or confusing for the person suffering, but also for their loved ones. Anything we feel – it doesn’t mean we don’t appreciate your help. We just might not be able to communicate it or feel it right. But sometimes, it’s the smallest things that mean the most.

Peace and Love,

Vic Mik

 

 

Hobbies

Now that I have finished graduate school, I am finding that I have a lot of extra time on my hands. I am also learning that I am not very good at having free time with nothing to do. I can’t sit still. I need to be doing something. This has resulted in me trying a variety of different hobbies. That includes blogging, which gives me an outlet to write whereas I also want to learn more about website design. It’s an interesting thing, trying to find a hobby that clicks. There are two that are frustrating me, two that I’ve always enjoyed, and one that I adore. I have a couple that I still want to try.

Knitting

So, I have been trying to take up knitting. My mom crochets, and she often makes baby blankets for friends. I’ve gifted a handful to teachers even, included one French flag blanket to one of my favorite teachers who taught, well, French. In middle school, we took classes that taught us cooking, sewing, and knitting, and I used memory of that to try to knit. I can do exactly one stitch and basically make one thing – a scarf. Lately, I have been trying to teach myself the “purl” stitch. This is primarily where the frustration comes in. I can’t figure the damn thing out. I am lucky to be able to do the one stitch I do know, and I still get frustrated with that. I bought a book, but the purl stitch just hasn’t clicked in my mind yet. Hopefully, I can figure this out soon because apparently if you can do the purl stitch there is a wide variety of projects you can do. I’d like to be able to stitch baby things because I know a few people pregnant, so I’d like to be able to make baby hats or socks or something. There’s also knitting stuffed animals which would be cute. Hell, I’d like to make myself a blanket or a beanie hat. I like knitting, it just has the capability to really frustrate me currently.

Jewelry Making

This is an interesting one. I don’t want to buy a myriad of supplies and tools yet in case it doesn’t really take for me but I am finding that it is difficult or not possible to do many of these things without having these supplies. So that is frustration number one. Number two is that I am not a fan of beadwork, at least when it comes to using thread. Perhaps wire wouldn’t be as bad. It is also a question of what to make. You see things on Pinterest and there are so many! I don’t know where to start. So far I’ve just been buying kits. I’d really like to start stamp jewelry, but again, don’t know where to start. As well, this one can get pricey after awhile. I like it, but I’m just not sure how involved I want to get with it. Perhaps frustrating isn’t totally the right world but it is overwhelming for sure.

Writing

I’ve discussed this before. I love writing. But there are so many opportunities within writing to explore. I would love to be published again. For what seems like forever ago, I used to like poetry and I would like to get back into that. As well, I’d love to write a novel eventually. The biggest issue with writing is maintaining motivation and staying creative. I know there has to be a good novel plot somewhere in my head, I just haven’t put the thoughts together in a way to connect the dots yet. I know that there is an idea in there. Eventually, I hope, it’ll come together. I was published in a magazine once, I have thought about dabbling in that again. Writing is just one of my favorite things.

Reading

I talked about reading too. Do you know how nice it is after years of reading literature/English major pieces going to years of reading government documents how nice it is to just read for fun? To read because that’s what I feel like doing and getting to pick the novel? It is absolutely fantastic. However, I have been reading a lot of…political and historical nonfiction. I suppose it is reminiscent of my two degrees and love for learning those subjects coming together. The ereader is one of the greatest inventions in my opinion. I know there is a great debate between ebooks versus physical novels, but I just love the fact that I can carry a library essentially in the palm of my hand.

Photography

I didn’t think I’d be into this just because my cell phone takes such great photos. However, I was thinking about and thought how there’s so much more that goes into it when you’re taking a photo with an actual camera and how much you can do with the picture. So I bought a decent Nikon, and I’ve had it a couple days and just love it. There is so much to learn with this, and I love seeing how the photos come out. It is a really great feeling to just getting that right shot. Obviously, the Internet is full of information on photography but I also plan on getting a book to learn more about the intricacies and how to edit different photos. I have a Macbook and there has to be programs with the Mac I can use to edit photos, so I am looking forward to learning all of that too.  

Scrapbooking and Sewing

I like making memories. So scrapbooking is something that I am interested in trying. I have a few ideas for scrapbooks, but for a college one, I had over 100 photos that I wanted to do. I already have ideas for other scrapbooks though, so I think it might be something I eventually try. However, and again, it is something that can get pricey after awhile. Sewing is the other thing I would like to try. Similar to knitting, it is something that I used to know how to do but have kind of lost my skillset. There are classes I can take to try it, and there are so many things I can do with it! I would like to try quilting eventually. It also can have a high cost, and I’m not sure how I feel about putting money into it with the possibly of not liking it.

These are things that I have been using to try and keep me busy! What hobbies do you have? Have you had any you wanted that just didn’t work? Any suggestions for me? I’d love to hear about them!

Peace and love,


Vic Mik

Acts of Kindness

Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Love lights more fire than hate extinguishes. Ella Wheeler Wilcox

You must not lose faith in humanity. Humanity is an ocean; if a few drops of the ocean are dirty, the ocean does not become dirty. Gandhi

Hate the sin, love the sinner. Gandhi

I am now a hippie. To clarify, these past few months, I have felt like a hippie. Generally, I have never considered myself a hippie. But there has been such a division within the country that I feel the need for the country to collectively take a deep breath. That we all need a long hug or yoga session. Who doesn’t feel better after a hug?

I can’t believe how many people choose to hate.

Unfortunately, it is easy. It is easy in today’s world to hide behind your screen and spew hate, to make yourself appear uncaring and that you are above it. I have been appalled at how people will speak of others they will never meet and just their general rudeness towards other humans. Some people say that we are living in a society that is too politically correct. I disagree. I believe that we have given the label “politically correct” as an excuse to be rude to others. People simply would rather not care about their fellow humans. Too often, I see it as a way to try to speak without accountability or acknowledging that your words mean something or are a reflection of you.

Growing up, I was the kid who wanted everyone to get along. My hippie self sees this still. I just can’t understand why people are okay with insulting and swearing out strangers and to keep up with the conversations of hate? Hate takes too much energy. Doesn’t anyone believe in karma? What benefit is there from hating another person or concept? I’m also not too sure why anyone thinks that their beliefs will be justified in insulting the beliefs’ of others? I see this a lot too.  

If we didn’t all have our own opinions, we would all be the same. How boring would that be? As well, there’d be no change or progress in life. We would never learn. It is our differences which makes us stand out. It is our ability to accept others for whom they are which defines our humility and sets us apart from the rest. In most cases, I can’t even figure out why people care in most cases if people have a differing opinion from them. It impacts them not at all, usually.  

Anymore, I don’t even feel comfortable to share my opinions. Once upon a time, it wasn’t polite to talk about politics. However, I just don’t find the need to invite that type of negative energy into my life, and I don’t want to give someone else reason to spread it. There’s ways to disagree, and insulting and degrading others isn’t the way to do it.

Politics aside – which I have talked more about than I would have liked to – the point of this post is to offer a challenge. As I said, there is so much division in the country right now. I know this. You know this. I hear it on podcasts and talk shows, I read it in the news. However, most people don’t seem to know how to resolve it. Let’s take politics out of the equation for a minute. Let’s look at each other as we truly are – human beings. People trying to live in this world, day after day.

Let us do something kind for each other. Something little. I’m not asking to change the world. Just try to add some kindness your world. Hold a door open for someone. Pay it forward. Share your umbrella with someone. Let someone go ahead of you in line. There are dozens of ways to show kindness to strangers; don’t forget your loved ones too. Deliberate acts of kindness; that’s all I am asking. Notice how it makes you feel. It spreads. Karma, remember?

Kindness to others reflects upon you. We can help the world shine a little brighter through these little acts. Maybe I’m just too much of a hippie, but I’m hopeful. I am hopeful that we can start healing through these small acts, and that maybe the conversation can occur without hate. I hope that we will realize love will always accomplish more than hate; that actual conversation will accomplish more than insulting the beliefs of others. Love moves mountains! There’s a quote from the movie “Love, Actually,” talking about the 9/11 attacks. It observes that in their final moments, people made calls of love. Not hate. Because in the end, love is what matters.  Maybe I’m just hopeful. But that’s what the world needs. Hope.

Faith, hope, and love are good things He gave us, but the greatest is love. 1 Corinthians 13:13

I’m not the most religious person, but I think we all need a little bit more of these – faith in whatever we believe in, hope that there is still good in the world (there is), and love.

Consider this exchange between Frodo and Sam in JRR Tolkien’s “Return of the King,”

Frodo: But what are we holding onto, Sam?

Sam: That there is some good in this world, Mr. Frodo. And that it’s worth fighting for.

And there is most definitely is. It is just up to us to find it again.

Peace and Love,

Vic Mik

 

Sorority Life

“Looking from the outside in, you can never understand it. Standing on the outside looking out, you can never explain it.”

How many sorority women have stated that about their sorority experience, unable to put into words what sorority life means to them? Wanting to so desperately explain how it is different it is from the stereotypes that popular culture displays? I know I have been there before. My sorority, Delta Phi Epsilon, keeps a huge place in my heart, and it always will. On the flip side, I know many people who have been confused about the strange Greek letters on shirts, the matching random shirts, the photo poses, endearments like “big” and “little,” and so much more. I was there once, too.

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At a recruitment event

I had the unique experience of getting to be a Founder for RMU’s chapter of Delta Phi Epsilon. The chapter was dormant since the ‘90s, and, in 2012, they were invited back to Robert Morris’s campus. One of my best friends from high school was a Deepher at another campus and encouraged me to check out recruitment. So I did, and instantly felt a connection that I hadn’t known before. I was so nervous throughout the recruitment processed and so thrilled when I received a bid. I didn’t know really any of the girls, but it didn’t matter. It was a new opportunity.

Purple and gold and unicorns abound, I didn’t know what to expect. Not only did we need to go through our new members process, but we also had to set the entire chapter up. We spent two nights a week together learning about sorority structure and Delta Phi Epsilon values. It was a lot at times, but it came in my life at a very important time. I joined my sorority in the beginning of my depression, which was crippling at this point. Joining the sorority sparked something in me I didn’t know that I still had. Other than classes and work, it was the only thing I could get out of bed for. It was the only thing I wanted to get out of bed for.

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Before I knew it, I had made amazing friends for life, sisters that I had never had. Spending all that time together as new members and founders created an even stronger bond than I had anticipated, and a unique one for us. I had one sister put together a surprise birthday dinner for me, I remember how sweet the gesture was and how happy it made me in a time I was anything but. Two of my sisters became roommates. One became my best friend for life. There were so many moments with each of them, memories with all.  Even sitting here now, there are so many laugh and smiles coming to mind. It was the best choice I made in college. I joke that if Robert Morris was my Hogwarts, then DPhiE is my Gryffindor. I don’t joke that I don’t know how I would have gotten through the semester if I hadn’t joined DPhiE. In some senses, it was life saving.

There’s so much more to it. Our motto, esse quam videri, means to be, rather than to seem to be. Our values are justice, sisterhood, and love. Not having biological sisters, I didn’t know sisterhood until I joined. But I try to live these in different aspects of my life every day. My sorority has made a significant impact on my life.

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There were other experiences to that the sorority afforded me that I couldn’t have had anywhere else. Our philanthropy work also changed my perspective on many things in life. The Cystic Fibrosis Foundation and Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders (ANAD) were the organizations that we worked with. I met many people impacted by the diseases we were raising money for. I learned I had friends living with the diseases. I loved the events we planned, and it was great knowing that we were able to try and make a difference. It’ll be quite a day when we learn there’s a cure. I can’t imagine how much it’ll mean to me, and before DPhiE, I didn’t even know what cystic fibrosis really was. Caring about these causes doesn’t change once you graduate, either. Those experiences stay with you.

You also start to get close with members of other organizations, and you support their causes too. No matter what the letter, we’re all Greek together as the saying goes. We might be competitive during Greek Week, but we do all support each other and our events. I also found many great friends in other organizations.

Being a Founder of DPhiE allowed me to leave my mark on the university. But my favorite part of being a founder is my family tree. I have two “little” sisters, two grandlittles, three great-grandlittles, one great-great-grandlittle, and one great-great-great-grand little. When I graduated, it was just me, my two littles, and a grandlittle. And it is so cool to see how much we’ve gone, and how they can trace their family tree back to me. These girls are truly family to me, some of them I talk to at least once a week. With all of them, it’s just like picking up where we left off. I am also lucky to have become close with some of the girls who joined after I graduated; I can’t have too many sisters or bows (our family name)!

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After I graduated, but this is now an outdated family tree photo

Sisters are there for you. They were the first ones I cried to when I found out my dad had to have open heart surgery again. When I found out I had been accepted to my Master’s program, they were among the first to know. They are the ones to laugh with you and pick you up when you fall. I always have a sister I can go to. One memory can set off a hundred more. DPhiE has encouraged my professional growth too; I received a scholarship for my Master’s degree. I remember tearing up with pride when I learned my grandlittle had received an award at our international convention (this was two years after I graduated). You spend so much time with these women, you share experiences that you will only share with a select group of women. Only so many women can relate to what you have experienced.

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The moment that you find out that you’re big and little.

I understand that it’s not for everyone, and that’s perfectly okay. I can’t explain why it is for someone or it isn’t. I just know how it was for me. It was something I needed. It made such a difference in my life and was a positive experience for me. It gave me hope when I didn’t have any, and I found lifelong friends and sisterhood. I can’t help but smile when I think of DPhiE and my precious unicorns. Gryffindor, for the brave at heart. Delta Phi Epsilon, justice, sisterhood and love.

Peace and love,

Vic Mik