Monday, May 3, 2010

Tuesdays with Morrie

At XCEL we have an abundance of great books dealing with leadership. One of those books on the shelves in our office is Tuesdays with Morrie.

Tuesdays with Morrie is a great motivational non-fiction novel by Mitch Albom, which tells the story of Morrie Schwartz and his relationship with his students. This sociology teacher, on his death bed, is able to provide life lessons to the main character Mitch. These lessons are; acceptance, communication, values, openness, happiness, and most of all love.These are all characteristics that can be utilized throughout your day to day life, whether as a leader or not.

So take a look at Tuesdays with Morrie! See what lessons you learn out of this short book. It is definitely a great read and worth your time.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Who Inspires Me?

***Post written by Danielle Knudsen***

There are tons of famous people who have changed the world and left long-lasting imprints on those they inspire, many of which provide great inspiration in my life. Yet, as I reflect on my motivation and empowerment, I realize that I am consistently inspired by those who hold a lasting place in heart. My grandmother’s strength, courage and commitment deeply inspire me during good and bad times. My grandmother has struggled in the face of hardship and has repeatedly sought to achieve her goals despite the warnings of others.

Nana suffered from a stroke when I was about ten years old, leaving her paralyzed on the right side of her body, as well as speech impaired. Her disability warranted a complete change in lifestyle considering that what used to be everyday tasks suddenly became great accomplishments due to her handicap. After my grandmother suffered from the stroke, my family continually suggested that she live in a home with provided professional care, but she dismissed each and every suggestion. She was determined to live independently and provide for herself. Progressively Nana learned how to use her left side to move around her apartment to get ready in the morning, prepare a quick meal, etc. Of course this took great practice, along with frustration, but my grandmother began to become used to her changed life.

My grandmother’s persistence inspires me most of all. In lieu of her handicap, she created a fulfilling lifestyle. Nana became an active member of the social circle in her apartment complex. Her schedule was always filled with various events, such as card games, movie nights, dinner socials, among many others. One of her favorite and most memorable activities was riding her scooter on the highway to go shopping. During these trips, she always bought little trinkets for my family and me.

Of course when my family found out about Nana’s adventures they went crazy over the danger of riding a scooter in such a busy area of town, especially when you are disabled. Nana’s mind was set; she would not allow her disability to hamper her from doing what she loves most. I still have all the cute knick-knacks she bought me in my room, as constant reminders that “mind over matter,” can be true wisdom. Whenever I face a difficulty, I think of my Nana’s experiences in order to place myself into perspective. My Nana is definitely a great source of empowerment, courage and determination!

Let's Play a Game!

I recently did a project for my leadership class titled "Putting Leadership into Focus". In the instillation, I presented strong images close up and then further away, to signify how important it is so keep the "bigger picture" in mind. Here's one...what do you think this could possibly be??

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Who Inspires Me:

Fibromyalgia (new lat., fibro-, fibrous tissues, Gk. myo-, muscle, Gk. algos-, pain, meaning muscle and connective tissue pain; also referred to as FM or FMS) is a medical disorder characterized by chronic widespread pain, a heightened and painful response to pressure.

Why am I defining this really weird word, Fibromyalgia?
This condition is one of the many reasons why I chose who inspires me, my mother.

It may be really cliche to be inspired by your mom, since I am sure everyone has said that during some point in their life. However I could not think of another person to be inspired by unless I really had to research them. It may be inspiring to read about their life and hear their good deeds, but I do not think of them in a day to day basis. I feel like no one affects my life and my choices more than my mother has.

My mother has the chronic pain condition defined above, Fibromyalgia. It is an issue that she deals with everyday, with no known cure just drugs to numb the pain. But my mother does not let that constant pain and depression get to her. She is still a very motivated person, caring for my large family, our house, and our many animals because she does not let the pain get in the way of her goals and loved ones. She finds ways to help her body through vitamins, natural supplements, and exercise, not drugs. She also constantly worries for mine and my sibling's well beings, and is there whenever we need her. I don't think I will ever not feel loved by my mother.

It is hard to list the many ways she makes me proud to be her daughter, I just know that all these characteristics and more of my mother inspire me to work hard towards my dreams and to love others. It would be easy for my mom to give in and not try to be as normal as she used to be, or do as many things as she does in a day, but she doesn't give up. In turn this motivates me to not give up in anything I do, whether it be school related or just a simple action such as taking back a shirt at Kohls... :)

Inspiration is a great thing in life, and the ability to be inspired helps many become such great leaders. In this case I feel my mother has helped me posses a few great leadership qualities; inclusiveness, empowerment, and motivation. Without her I may not have these characteristics that I am so proud of.

What qualities make someone inspiring to you? These may be the same qualities you wish to achieve as a leader, a way to make yourself better. Think about it, maybe it will be your mother too. :)

Who Inspires Me?

One person who really inspires me is Maya Angelou. Her collection of work and life story is one to be cherished and remembered for generations to come. You can learn more about here here:

I'll leave you with one of my favorite pieces of hers, "Still I Rise"

You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I'll rise.

Does my sassiness upset you?
Why are you beset with gloom?
'Cause I walk like I've got oil wells
Pumping in my living room.

Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I'll rise.

Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops.
Weakened by my soulful cries.

Does my haughtiness offend you?
Don't you take it awful hard
'Cause I laugh like I've got gold mines
Diggin' in my own back yard.

You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I'll rise.

Does my sexiness upset you?
Does it come as a surprise
That I dance like I've got diamonds
At the meeting of my thighs?

Out of the huts of history's shame
I rise
Up from a past that's rooted in pain
I rise
I'm a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.
Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
I rise
Into a daybreak that's wondrously clear
I rise
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
I rise
I rise
I rise.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Self Leadership- Getting Involved without your Friends

This is an article written by one of our previous XCEL consultants Kate Gromatsky, that I thought would be great to share! Enjoy :)

Among the important things that occur during your freshman year, making new and potentially lifelong friends is usually high on the list for most new students. It is understandable that most of you (as new students) put a lot of time and effort into seeking out these potential friends, considering college is probably the first time you are away from home. This means that the family and friends you spent the first 18 or so years of your life with, the people who know you best, are not here. You are truly alone for the first time in your life and this may provide a long desired sense of freedom for all of you that can now can eat ice cream for breakfast and stay out until the sun rises without getting caught by Mom and Dad. But, as social beings we crave connections with other people, thus as freshmen we search for new connections to fill the void that was created when we left home.

Once you meet these new lifelong friends, you might find yourself spending every free moment you have with your new crew. Of course this is natural because you have 18 years of stories to share with one another, new memories to make, and thousands of funny moments ahead of you. While all of these things are well and good, spending all of your time doing things with others may not always be the best thing for you as a college student.

For starters you may be interested in joining clubs or organizations that your new friends are not interested in joining. Therefore, this makes it really easy not to attend General Interest Meetings and other initial gatherings because you are scared of the idea of going to something new alone. Lets face it—walking into a room full of people you don’t know is intimidating. However, as you continue to grow and progress in your life there is going to be plenty of occasions where you are going to have to attend conferences, job fairs, retreats, or meetings alone. So why wait until then; start going to events and activities that you are interested in, even if no one else you know is going. Taking this kind of initiative is not only good for your personal leadership, but you are definitely going to meet more people who have the same interest groups which in turn will expand your social network here at Binghamton.

Another reason why it is important to get involved in things on your own is to create some “you” time. During your first semester, you are going to discover that majority of your day is spent with other people- class, discussions, group meetings, eating in the dining halls, in your suite or community room, the library, the gym, etc. While we love our friends, suitemates or floormates, after some time this constant routine becomes monotonous, and you will start to crave some fun time where all you do is something enjoyable, something that breaks up your day. Understand that it is okay to attend an event by yourself such as a fitness class held at the East Gym or a Late Nite event. By going to these things alone without the company of people that you are always around, will allow you to feel a change of pace, which is a wonderful stress reliever.

Why a sheep photo? Because you don't always have to follow the herd! Be yourself :)
Be unique like the Butterfly!

Photos from

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

What Motivates You?

Do you know what motivates you to get out of bed in the morning? Do you just stay in bed, or do you get up to better yourself? Maybe help others? Or maybe you get up for the opportunity to earn money.

As a leader it is crucial to have a goal set in your mind, a purpose for the task at hand. This purpose drives your group to accomplish what needs to be done. How can you be process oriented, inclusive, empowering, and ethical without a purpose? These many adjective that were listed are the major parts of The Relational Leadership Model. This model focuses on the idea of motivation and purpose.

What is your purpose?

We found a fun quiz from "The best career quiz site, period." Test to find out what motivates you to get out of bed in the morning, and determines your purpose for your Relational Leadership Model.

So find out..
What Motivates You?

Picture provided by: San Diego State University Student Life and Leadership Website