I’ll Keep Refilling the Glass Until it’s Half Full.

Jess Braun

One might assume that the most effective leaders carry a predictable set of qualities such as being hardworking, respectful, and resourceful. While these certainly are important traits, I believe that positivity is among the greatest qualities that a leader can possess. Maintaining a positive attitude is incredibly challenging, especially when faced with the pressure and potential obstacles associated with leadership roles, and for this reason I admire those who are capable of it.

There are countless ways in which positivity can be shared, which is one of the splendors of this characteristic. Embracing positivity within one’s own life is an impressive feat, but the ability to radiate and share positivity with others is even more admirable. I can undoubtedly say that I have become a more positive person during my time at Arcadia. I never expected that I would become an individual who is capable of leading positively, but I am happy to say that I surprised myself. If I had to identify the specific instance that facilitated my transition into a more positive person, I would cite it as the day I moved to campus. Starting from the very beginning of my Arcadia experience, I felt like I had been uplifted and had effortlessly become more optimistic. Various experiences since then have solidified my transformation into a more positive individual, which I believe have resultantly made me into an overall better person.

When I initially transferred to Arcadia, I possessed a substantially different mindset than I do today. At the time, I justified my outlook as realism, but I often found myself thinking negatively. When I commuted to another school prior to becoming a resident student here, I dreaded going to class and deliberately refused to get involved. I attended lectures and then left immediately to drive to work; I taught gymnastics. I eventually became bored by the repetition of spending practically all of my time learning and teaching in the same dull settings. My routine was so ingrained in me that I sometimes felt like I was pre-programmed and could not divert from my usual activities and responsibilities. This discomfort and negativity made me restless and lead to an avid desire to change. I wanted more which ended up being one of the greatest things that has ever happened to me.

At Arcadia, I wanted my experience to be the opposite of what I was used to: the boring bare minimum that fueled a methodical cycle that I wanted to be liberated from. It felt so good to break all of the routines that had come to control me. I began to see how many opportunities laid beyond my comfort zone. Because of this sentiment, at the first activities fair I attended I signed up for more than a handful of clubs with hopeful anticipation. In the following weeks, I read every email meticulously to become informed about campus events. I spent more time out of my room than I did in it. I attended a variety of club meetings and became acquainted with many passionate, selfless, inspirational, and positive people who I am now fortunate enough to call friends. From these people, I learned many lessons, but I primarily learned how important it is to elevate others. Some of my friends who were leaders on campus (shout-out to Allison O’Neil, Steph Feinberg, Theresa Tobias, and Danielle Maxson) had a tremendous impact on me. I felt that these lovely individuals allowed me to grow in ways I never expected simply by being themselves. They so effortlessly see the good in everyone and everything, including me. I had previously thought that I would never have a positive impact on others, but my role model friends (who also happen to be supermodels) showed me that simply by being yourself, it is possible to create positive change and allow others to grow.

I am a proponent of surrounding yourself with people that you want to be like, and I am lucky to be ceaselessly inspired by the teams I am a part of. If I ever find myself having a rough day, someone is always by my side to pick me up. I appreciate this support system more than I can express and for this reason, I enjoy providing a positive environment and helping others. From a professional perspective, there are countless blog posts and personal accounts that testify the importance of positivity in the workplace. One individual described a situation in which he was very critical of his team members and exuded negative energy. His team essentially intervened and shared their perspective, which made him “able to appreciate, in every fiber of [his] being, the damage that [he] did to others, without any awareness at all, until [his] boss had the courage to tell [him] that everyone knew- everyone, that is, except for [him]” (Positive Leadership: Success Without Collateral Damage).

In addition to discussing the changes he made after the realization that his attitude impacted his team negatively, the writer also mentioned that he made an effort to talk in terms of “we” rather than talking in terms of “me.” This essentially means that he realized his own personal shortcomings or mistakes before pointing fingers at other team members. I appreciated this portion of his writing because I had a similar thought earlier this semester. Up until a few months ago, I sent out club emails and signed only my name on them. One day, a light bulb went off and I realized that I was acting in a manner that neglected to acknowledge my team.

Aside from the importance of positivity, another recent realization I have had is how essential it is to let your core values steer your life. If I preach positivity but do not live my life through such a lens, I am no different from a pessimist or a hypocrite. For this reason, I attempt to share positivity with others whenever I have the opportunity. I realize that positivity is not among everyone’s core values. Some people are even offended or bothered by positivity. One time, I was even called “painfully positive.” Although I’m sure that this comment was intended to be an insult, I was flattered by it. From this remark I essentially deduced that I am so committed to living by my values that it is noticed by others. I know that if I continue to live by my own values and standards, I will take pride in my actions and create a positive environment for myself and those around me.



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