on being a leader

may 30 and 31. i was invited by the company’s employees union to attend a leadership seminar in tagaytay. i was hesitant at first but then i figured what do i have to lose if i go? why not go just for the ~experience?

i woke up early that monday morning (with hyperacidity and all) for the 5:30 a.m. call time at the office. good thing one of my college friends, julie, was also invited to the seminar. we were on our way to st therese retreat house in tagaytay city by 6:15 a.m. and reached the place by 7:40 a.m.

naturally, i didn’t have specific expectations from the seminar. okay, maybe i was hoping that i might get just even a little bit of something out of it. well, it did turn out there was nothing different to it when compared to all the other seminar-workshops i’ve been to since elementary, haha. you know the ones where you spend most of your time listening and playing games as an introductory exercise for the next topic. oh, and of course, you will learn at least one new clap. there was also a solidarity night but julie and i (and jeannette) skipped it and slept instead.

you bet, i was just so glad to be finally going home after this group shot was taken minutes before we head back to makati.

nicked from julie’s facebook

so it was just another seminar. until we got stuck in traffic due to a santacruzan on our way home and had to take a detour. it gave me time to reflect on those two days and then i realized i did have fun (the games were all new to me) and learned from it (a good leader creates good leaders). maybe i was just not in the right condition to absorb everything that was happening during the seminar because of my hyperacidity. after all, i was always checking the time so i would not miss taking my medicine.

i was reminded how i used to live for this sort of things especially in high school. i took pride whenever i got selected to attend leadership seminars then. (one of my favorites was the one hosted by the rotary club. i’m sure i still have my “i am a primus inter pares (or first among equals) leader” bookmark somewhere in my room.) i had flashbacks of my teenager self sitting indian style, attentively listening to the speakers, actively participating in discussions, and always excited to make new friends.

and then there was this 27-year-old me who tried hard not to look bored, raised her hand for a total of one time (just because she can’t take the answers the speaker was getting) and mostly sat by herself on the same seat during the two-day seminar.

at the start of the seminar, we were grouped and asked to write down what we want and don’t want to happen in the seminar. i assumed i was the youngest in our group as i was bullied into taking down notes for the group. i became frustrated when i even needed to call the attention of my groupmates one by one just to squeeze at least one expectation out of them. but of course, i couldn’t blame them because as i’ve said, i don’t have expectations at all. i was able to make sense out of their answers and i know many standard answers to this question so i just played around with the words.

surprisingly, during my reflection moment on the ride home, i realized one of the expectations i wrote was fulfilled–to bring out the leader in me. i remembered my frustrations especially during the games when i know i have a better idea but there were too many who wanted to have a say (we were a group of “potential leaders” after all so there goes the leaders in us unleashed, haha).

i realized that i forgot i can lead when i entered college. being surrounded with highly-intelligent beings, many of them with oozing leadership potentials, i just thought i can’t be a better leader than any of them. i even enjoyed being just a member of a group most of the time. but looking back, i still ended up acting as the leader in class groupings. i became an officer in two of the college orgs i joined. i even became journalism representative of the student council.

i realized i don’t like being a leader but when situations calls for it i know i can be one. like that time in my previous work when after only six months i was asked to head a newly-formed team with two new hires and one my senior. or when i ended up taking charge of the pdi new employees dance number.

but why exactly is it that i don’t like being a leader if given a choice? i don’t know. maybe i just have my priorities set already. perhaps i need another seminar for this, haha.


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