Critical Thinking

Haiti Round 3… but with a twist

Three years ago this upcoming July I will have been part of an organization called Help The Youth Haiti for 3 years. Only a year after I helped grow this organization I took on a leadership role. I hope this role still to today. The role was to plan and facilitate the activities and events that group would be doing when we all traveled to Haiti in July. Originally I thought this role was going to be easy. I have held similar roles in the last so I wasn’t too worried. Little to my knowledge, it was a lot more difficult than anything I have every done. thumbnail_FullSizeRender

My biggest struggle in this role was communication. By that, I mean communication to our Haitian counterparts. Language wasn’t a problem because most of the people we work with in Haiti know English. The hard part was being able to maintain regular communication. This was due to their limited access to Internet and phone. But yet, another obstacle was thrown my way. As many know a hurricane hit Haiti earlier this year. Any forms of communication they had was now gone. We went weeks without knowing how thigs were, let alone if our friends were still alive. 

Despite the many obstacles thrown my way, this has been a great experience. This upcoming July the trip will consist of a few new events. We will be running a free CPR and first Aid seminar in order to teach people how to respond in emergencies. We will also be planning and facilitation vacation bible school for the children and a pastor’s conference for the pastors in the community. Unfortunately, I am not able to travel to Haiti this July due to academic reasons ( I will be taking physics 2), however, I chose to remain actively involved in my role. jkjkj

This experience has taught me to patient and willing to adapt. Things don’t always work out they way they are planned. Also, this experience has taught me to be creative. The supplies, money, and resources available to us were a lot more limited than I was aware of prior to taking on this role. Thus, when planning events such as vacation bible school, where craft supplies are usually found in surplus, I had to be creative in coming up with crafts that would use only construction power, popsicle sticks, and 4 bottles of glue. thumbnail_IMG_4486

I’m disappointed that I cannot travel to Haiti this summer. However, I remain in contact with my friends. The bond I have formed while in Haiti have only grown stronger since the first time I’ve been there. My involvement and leadership role Help The Youth has been one of the most benefiting, eye-opening experiences of my life. It has taught me so much as about my myself. You may think that it is a little dramatic when I say that this organization and the people I have met have changed my perspective on life. 

OH OH OH! We are also in the progress of trying to get a few of our friends passports to come to the U.S.




The CMU Leadership Insititue twitter runs something called a Lead Chat. A Lead Chat is when the CMU LI twitter will tweet a questions regarding leadership and then anyone has the chance to contribute to the conversation by replying to the tweet with their answer to the question.

Prior to receiving out mentees, there was a Lead Chat on the mentee/mentor relationship. The questions that were asked got me thinking. I really liked participating in this group chat because it allowed me to see what others thought about what a mentee/mentor relationship should be about. It was also very cool that some of the future LASers, our mentees, participated in the Lead Chat.



Approximately a year ago today I received my mentor. At that point I really wasn’t sure what a mentor would really do for me other than answer my question. However a year later words cannot explain how much Trino has done for me. Over the past year Trino has become one of my best friends. Due to the wonderful mentee/mentor relationship I am determined to create just as good of a relationship with my mentee as I had with my mentor.

Prior to the mentee work shop I hadn’t thought much about being a mentor. All I knew was that I was excited to be a mentor. The mentor workshop addresses many questions that I hadn’t considered. These question addressed what should you do if you do to help make you mentor feel more comfortable during their first week of college, what should you do to if you mentee comes to you with a serious problem, what should you do to try and form a better relationship and more. When we went around and answered these question my fellow LASers had many great answers and also brought up many other good points that I hadn’t considered. During this conversation, one of the most memorable things said was by the one and only Dan Gaken. He said, “You are holding your mentee’s freshman year in your hands.” Although this statement may seem slightly exaggerated, it is true. The main purpose of a mentor is support. The help and support I offer my mentee will either in my opinion make or break his freshman year or college.

The thing I am most excited for when being mentor is the mentee/mentor relationship. I am going to do my best to make sure that my mentee has a positive first year and that he knows that I am here for him when he needs anything. My mentor and I have such a close relationship that we are road tripping to Florida this summer. I want this quality of a relationship with my mentee. Although a creating a quality relationship is a two way street, I will make sure to do my part in the relationship.

To be an effective mentor I will be sure to contact my mentee often to make sure that he is doing well, if he has any questions or if they want to meet up for lunch or dinner. I will be sure to visit Barnes (the LAS dorm) often.

A week after the mentor workshop was when the mentee draft occurred. My mentee is Harrison Watts. I am beyond excited to meet Harrison and be a part of his freshman year. I can’t wait to share my love for CMU.

Endurance: Shackleton’s Incrediable Voyage


Endurance by Alfred Lansing is the story of the Trans-Antarctic Expedition in the early 1900’s. Alfred Lansing was an American Journalist and writer. Although this book does not directly discuss different concepts or approaches to leadership, a great deal of different leadership styles are used throughout this novel. The reason for choosing this novel was because it was listed multiple times on different lists of leadership books. Most of those the books on the lists were books that directly discuss different concepts and approaches to leadership. However, I was interested in why Endurance was on the list. Leadership is one of the key ideas in this novel. Leadership is what allowed the men to be as successful as they were in the unfortunate circumstances they were placed in. This book does a great job at showing the reader how leadership can be used in all situations as well as how the style of a leader must be adapted to ensure that his or her followers are being positively benefited.

There were three main takeaways from this novel. Adapting to followers needs was one of them. Throughout the novel adapting to the needs of the follower was one of the most important reasons why the men survived for as long as they did. By adapting to the followers need, Shackleton, the boat’s captain, ensured that his seamen were receiving the best possible care in the situation they were placed in. Following the sinking of the ship, the men were required to sleep in tents on an ice glacier. There were not enough tents for everyone, so Shackleton assigned the men to the tents where there would be the least conflict between the men. The seamen did not have a problem with this because they knew that Shackleton was doing this for the survival and success of everyone. Shackleton knew that with little conflict there would be more success because the men would be able to work together well and accomplish their necessary daily tasks.

The second main takeaway or concept from this novel is servant leadership. Servant leadership is leveling the playing field with the people you are serving. You as a leader no longer have the status as being better or have a higher ranking than those you are serving. Shackleton did just this. Being a servant leader came easy to him. Shackleton, just like the other men had his daily jobs. Each night there would be a watch men who stated up to guard the camp. This was a job each mean dreaded. Shackleton made sure that he completed his night watch duty whenever he was assigned. Shackleton also didn’t give himself any more food or more imported living conditions than what his seamen had. Shackleton made himself equal. By doing this Shackleton was relaying to his followers that not only were they responsible for the survival of the crew, but also that Shackleton was doing his part in ensuring the survival of the crew.

Persistence is the third concept that can be taken away from this novel. Persistence is what helped them to survive. Without persistence, any possible chance of getting home would have been lost very early on in their journey. Shackleton himself was a very persistent man. He did not give up easily. He had a mindset that if he started something that he must finish it. The persistence that Shackleton showed him men also helped his men to remain hopeful throughout their long journey in the bitter cold. Persistence can be hard to maintain if one keep experiencing failure after failure and Shackleton knew this. Therefore, he never gave up in order to make sure that his men remained hopeful because with hope comes a positive attitudes and with a positive attitude comes progress.

Applying these three concept to myself as a leader at CMU will help me to greatly grow as a leader. Adapting to my followers needs will help to prepare me as a leader. It will help to prepare me because it will force me to become flexible and learn to adapt to unexpected situations. In college, meetings and events change often. Problems come up and getting frustrated is not the appropriate way to handle that. Altering your leadership style is more of a fitting solution to manage the issue. Putting my followers first will help to prepare me as a leader because it taught me that even though it may be the harder thing to do, as a leader putting your followers first to ensure their well-being is the best thing to do. Servant leadership is a style of leadership that I want to adapt. Becoming a servant leader is not a trait or a characteristic it is a mindset that I am going to work towards. Having this mindset will help me develop as a leader. Being persistence as a leader is a very important trait to have. As leaders, we must constantly force ourselves to grow, we must be persistent with the development of our leadership skills. We must also be persistent as students. Receiving a few bad grades does not mean you can quit. Be persistent, learn from your mistakes, make correction and try again. That same concept applies to leadership. When a plan does not work or a follower does not understand, don’t give up, alter your plan, readjust and try again.

 I would recommend this book to others. This book is unlike other leadership books in the fact that it does not directly discuss leadership concepts and approaches, it simply just shows many different approaches applied to real situations. I believe that the way leadership is presented in this novel will help to benefit others because it shows how the concept or approach is applied in real life situation as well as showing the reader that there is not one concert way to lead. The style someone may use to lead in one situation can easily change when a new situation comes up.

After reading this novel, I will approach leadership as a whole differently. I will approach leadership with the mindset of a servant leader. I will try and humble myself when helping others. I will remember that I am not better than the people I am serving, their needs are what really matter. I will not take advantage of the status that being in a leadership position gives me. I will act as a servant.

“People don’t buy what you do. They buy why you do it”


The Golden Circle consists of three circles. The inner most circle is why. The middle circle is how. And the outer most circle is what. “Every organization on this plants knows what they do, some know how they do it…but very very few know why they do what they do it.” Most business and people act from the outside-in. However, successful, inspirational business act from the inside-out. They put more emphasis on why they are selling products rather than what they are selling.

When you tell a child they are not allowed to do something the first thing they will ask  is “why?” As we grow up the “why” starts to become “what.” As we get older, the reasoning behind a decision starts to fade while the “what”  in a decision becomes more prominent.

I believes that the “why” aspect in a decision begins to fade when children start school. When teachers teach, the teach the what. In History we are taught what happens when, who didn’t like who, this war lead to this war, etc. However, we are very often not taught why something happened the way it did. For example. Why did Martin Luther King Jr. lead the Civil Rights movement? All students are taught what MLK did, but why him? There were plenty of other men that felt passionate about civil rights. WHY him?

Why were the Wright Brothers able to achieve the first flight when there were other more qualified people who would be expected to accomplish such an achievement? I believe this to be because they had inspiration. They did not what the reputation for being the first men to fly, they wanted to accomplish this goal because it was something they personally wanted. They did it for themselves. They did it for self satisfaction. This is why they were the first men to take flight rather than the rich business man who wanted to build his reputation.

“People don’t buy what you do. They buy why you do it.” This statement plays a big role in leadership. Leadership is all about inspiration and therefore more emphasis is put on they why versus the what. This Ted Talk sparked my curiosity. From now on even before the simplest decisions I stop and consider the “why.” Considering the “why” has had more of an impact than I expected. In some ways it helps one to discover who they are. It helps them to identify their believes because in considering the “why” one must consider their reasoning for doing something.