Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Reflections on our 25th Year (Part 2)

From LeaderShaper, Joe Cimino:

The other day I stumbled upon an old Skype-chat conversation I had with someone from before I attended LeaderShape. I laughed to myself, wondering who it was behind my username that would have been saying those things with that kind of mindset. When I compared all of what was written from before LeaderShape, and that from after returning home, I was truly amazed. There was a profound sense of levity from a prior pessimistic manner of speaking. Just seven days and an open-mind was all it took to shake off one mold and start setting foot into a new one. That’s what Day 7 is all about right: knowing who you want to become and starting the path to get there? After seeing the noticeable difference between my Skype conversations from pre and post LeaderShape, I decided to retrace my other steps using social media as a lens.

I started the research with my twitter account. What I found was a newsfeed peppered with positivity. Between the fellow LeaderShapers and the people they recommended to follow, my day is enhanced with optimism and values-driven tweets. My own tweets have made a transformation as well. Before attending the LeaderShape Institute, I felt more compelled to express my feelings and stories in negative and more sarcastic ways, but as my outlook had changed I committed to sharing things more in line with my new mind set. My Twitter profile is a direct result of my core values, “Living my life filled with the greatest sense of optimism and inner harmony.”

On Facebook, I noticed that a handful of my recent profile pictures have been taken at either the LeaderShape Intstitute in Boston or at the 25th Anniversary in Chicago. I can’t help but smile when I look at them. I’m reminded of the joyful people in my life and the astounding affect they’ve had on me. In one way or another, they’ve all helped me in my journey to where I am today. After returning home from LeaderShape I remember weeding out people from my “Friends” category. I decided instead to concentrate on the people who brought more value to my life. Facebook also became a portal of reconnecting with others who I wanted to spend more time with. There were people I wanted to regain a friendship with, and that’s where the “Messages” category came in handy.

Something I commonly share on both Twitter and Facebook is a link to my blog. It’s entitled “Choose Your Own Adventure” because of it’s commencement before my study abroad this semester in Paris, France. The blog is in fact my journal, posted in photograph form with brief titles and captions of my more memorable events. While attending LeaderShape I was so moved by the sharing of Tomorrow’s Headlines, and everyone’s encouraging Post-It note comments that I wanted to continue the use of handwriting within this piece of me I planned to share with the world. As I journal I think of the reflective writing we did at LeaderShape and how it was always set to what appeared to be a fitting musical soundtrack. Now I use the same device to help me remember the places and times I was writing about and include that at the bottom of each entry.

When I sent my entry to the LeaderShape email for the 25th Anniversary YouTube video contest, I wasn’t fully aware of it’s significance. I was mostly concerned about matching the film up with the pace of my voice and not the number of people that would see it. I wanted to make it known how powerful of an experience LeaderShape had been for me, and that I feel truly connected to it. It had only been a few months since coming out to my parents and close friends by the time I entered the contest. It wasn’t until I was watching it on the big screen at the Anniversary dinner and I had taken the time to read all the comments, that I could see the ways it had touched others and the way it hit home for me. I was welcomed by an entire community of people, a sort of utopia, only comparable to attending LeaderShape itself. I don’t think I’ve ever felt more comfortable with who I am than at that moment.

Now the people I care to communicate with through social media the most are my closest friends from college, and the magnificent people I met at The LeaderShape Institute in Boston, and some from the 25th anniversary celebration in Chicago. LeaderShape is something that I think about daily because it has enriched my life in so many ways.

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