Ashesi Leadership IV students each wrote several reflection essays during the semester. Osarieme Thelma Osagie-Erese shares her essay here on learning about leading as she steps out of her comfort zone.
“Last week, we had an activity where we had to seat on the floor in a full circle. My first reaction to that was ‘how am I going to get the stains off my trousers,’ and then I thought Dr. Neville was trying to play a fast one on us. After a few minutes of everyone adjusting and finding their rightful place on the floor, I began to look at it from another perspective. My opinion was we were in a leadership class, learning how to be servant leaders so maybe we were being tested and didn’t even know it. After throwing a few questions to people in the group, I realised somehow most of us were reflecting. What does it really mean to be a servant leader I ask myself? I’ve always known you have to be able to serve people before you can lead them but I never really put any deep thought into it. I believe to be a servant is one of the hardest things a person can do so how do I make that a positive thought and change the world from that level?
Personally, I saw this activity as an eye-opener. I realised that as much as I think I can relate to others’ suffering and circumstances, I can never actually understand how an orphan lives or why a young girl goes into prostitution until I leave my comfort zone and put myself in their shoes. One of the things that struck me was that while I was making all these realizations, there were still people who didn’t understand why we had to do this exercise. Why we had to leave available comfortable chairs and sit on the bare floor. Dr. Neville explained that we all didn’t have to sit on the floor, we all could have chosen to sit on chairs instead, and we didn’t have to follow the instruction. This made me think about leaders and their followers. Followers might not always agree with their leaders’ opinions or suggestions and it takes a bold one to ask questions or demand explanations. Sadly, in the world we live today, I find that we have more followers like some of my classmates who follow instructions blindly. Then I ask myself, where do people draw the line at following the status quo? When do they decide they want to believe in the visions they follow?”
Posted with Thelma’s permission.