Leadership 11: Myth Bustin’!

Questions from John C. Maxwell’s “360 Degree Leader”

1. Discuss if people need to possess the top title in order to achieve results and help others become productive.

People definitely don’t need to possess the top title in order to achieve results and help others become productive. For example, in my band class, I don’t have an authoritative position (heck, I’m not even one of the best flute players), but I help out my section by making sure the people near me know what piece we’re about to play, or what the proper fingering for a trill is. By doing this, I help others become more productive and achieve the result of a better-sounding flute section. There’s a saying that goes, “No one can do everything, but everyone can do something”, and it relates to this because even if you’re not at the top level, doing the little something you have to offer can make a big difference to the group!


2. How can you reshape your thinking and habits to better display the characteristics of a leader?

Becoming a better leader isn’t really something you can just pick up on the side, and call into play whenever you need it. To be a leader, you have to display the characteristics and think like a leader all the time, until it becomes part of you and you are a leader, whether you are required to be or not.
I would like to change my thinking to be more critical, and more open. Whenever I am planning something, I need to ask myself “Is there another way to do this? What are the challenges that I might face, and how could my group and I meet them?” I also need to let go of the control-freak side of me. I sometimes try to take on too much of a project on myself, and forget that I can ask for help, and let other people take ownership for parts of a project. I need to reshape my thinking from, “I need to do this” to “We need to do this” and then make a decision with my group about how to divide up our task. Some habits I would like to form are:

  • Take initiative
  • Involve other people
  • Communicate clearly and effectively
  • Empower other people and give leadership opportunities to people in my group
  • Help and encourage others and build relationships with the people
  • “Question the Quo” by bringing relevant but fresh perspectives and ideas to the table. Always ask – is there another way to do this?
  • Be proactive
  • Ask for group opinions and perspectives
  • Check in with group members

3. What prompts you to follow someone else?

I follow people that I trust. If I trust someone’s judgement, and I have faith in their ability to distinguish the best course of action, I am inclined to follow them. Secondly, the person’s character plays a role in whether or not I would follow them. Their values and morals define to what extent I would be willing to follow them. Third, after getting to know the leader, their ideas and opinions and how much I agree them would affect whether or not I continued to follow them. In addition to this would be seeing how the leader responds under pressure or in the face of a challenge. If they are able to maintain the main focus of the group without sacrificing their values/morals, I will be able to make a judgement on whether or not I will keep following and supporting them in the future. The better I get to know the leader, the clearer it will become whether I will follow them or have to re-discuss the leadership of the group.


4. What factors should chairs of a committee take into consideration before making a decision?

Before making a decision, committee chair need to take into account the resources we currently have, the schedules of the class members and facilitators, the needs of the class and facilitators (such as allergies or injuries), other committees, and whether or not the decision fits into the big picture and forwards the class’ goals.
For example, in the practice committee, when setting up practice hikes last year, we considered that we had first aid kits and people would bring their own hiking shoes and packs. W considered the schedules of MS. Mulder and our hike leaders when planning the dates of the hikes. We made note of the people with health concerns and made sure that they were prepared to deal with whatever might happen. We discussed with the program committee what intensity the trip hikes would be, and thus what we needed to work up to in practice. Lastly, we made sure that these practices would help us perform well on the adventure trip.


5. To whom do the chairs in the committee answer?

The chairs answer to their group members, because they need to lead them fairly and listen to their opinions. They answer to their co-chair, because they each need to do their part and make sure the other is on track. They answer to the rest of the class, for taking care of the part they chose to do and keeping in mind what is best for the class. Lastly, the chairs have to answer to themselves. Have you done your best? Is this something you can be proud of? The chairs have a responsibility to themselves for their personal fulfillment and development.


6. What are you capable of achieving? What would reaching your potential look like?

I think each person has a limitless potential, constrained by the amount of time we have until we die. Strangely enough, we don’t know how long we’ll live, so I don’t think we ever really know the true limits of our potential. Right now, I’m capable of being a middle leader and finishing grade ten and many other things, but in the future, perhaps I will be capable of bringing about world peace! Or the model plan for an entirely sustainable city that could be implemented with little cost, or maybe do something as simple as instate unisex bathrooms in schools to improve conditions for people who don’t fall into the categories of “male” or “female”, or may not look like the “norm” for the gender they identify as.
To be a little less vague, I think I am capable of becoming capable of anything I want, and to me, reaching my potential would be leaving the world a little better than it was when I came into it.


7. The reality for most people is that they will never be the CEO. Does that mean they should just give up leading altogether? Discuss.

Just because you’re not CEO, doesn’t mean you can’t lead in your job. By leading from the middle, you can influence people (including higher-ups) without needing to be the top level person. Plus, you can always lead in other aspects of your life! For example, you could lead in a volunteer group, or start a local club. There are so many ways to lead and exert influence on people to fix problems, streamline processes, and bring your goals into fruition.

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Intro to In-Depth: Recycled Art

And so In -Depth begins again!

This year I’m pretty excited for what I’m going to do. In fact, it took me a really long time to get this post up because every time I went looking for a picture I got distracted by all of the cool recycled art on the web.

Joe Pogan’s Recycled Art, courtesy of his website gallery (http://joepogan.com/gallery/index.htm)

So, what’s recycled art?

It’s basically taking old stuff, and making art out of it.

This is sometimes known as “Upcycling.”


verb (used with object), upcycled, upcycling.

1. to process (used goods or waste material) so as to produce something that is often better than the original:

ex. “I upcycled a stained tablecloth into curtains.”
- Dictionary.com
I want to do this because,well, who doesn’t want to learn how to make cool stuff? Plus, not only will I be making artwork, I’ll be helping raise awareness about the environment and reducing the waste I produce! I’ve been interested in scrap bits and pieces from a young age, and any of my friends can tell you that I carry around rubber bands, a broken combination lock and taken-apart pens in my pencil case for whenever I get bored. I’m just taken with the idea that scrap junk can become beautiful works of art, which really makes me wonder about how humans place value on objects. If that bird sculpture was given to me as a Christmas present still in the form of a bunch of nails and screws, I wouldn’t consider it as special as the sculpture above. But it’s the same stuff! Isn’t that weird?
The “how” of the project is where it starts to get complicated. I’ll take used materials, and combine them using glue, string or soldering tools (if I get access to them)to make art. I want to make sculpture pieces and one or two pieces of jewellery. There’s tons of awesome stuff being done with really small, simple sculpture.
Matthew Bartik’s flatware Recycled Fork Musicians.
Recycled insect sculpture by Justin Gershenson Gates
 I will obviously collect spare pieces of scrap metal, electronics, cork, old books, cassette and VHS tapes, or scratched/broken CDs and DVDs. I will also ask friends and family to send me all of their used materials, but I’m not sure how much this will bring. Finding a mentor is a big part of meeting these challenges. I’m hoping my mentor will be able to suggest some good places to find materials and, if possible, I will also contact someone who does metalworking to learn about soldering metal sculpture. So my needs are materials, a mentor with experience in sculpture, soldering tools, and an instructor who can teach metal soldering.When I searched for local resources and artists, I had a hard time find recycled art specialists, but I did find a free family drop in class about recycled art at Leigh Square, Port Coquitlam. I’m going to attend the first workshop there on Jan. 15 if all goes well, so I might be able to talk to the supervisor of that class about possible mentors. In the meantime, I’ll continue looking for a mentor.

My timeline goals are to complete a project a month, roughly. I’ll attend the workshop at Leigh Square after school, as it runs every second week starting Jan. 15th until the end of March. Coming up soon is my mentor-finding. I want to have found a mentor by Jan. 18, about a week from now. I’ve found many independent artists who do recycled art, but most of them live quite far away from here – the one Canadian artist I found lived in Ontario! But I still have a lot of searching to do.


In-depth posts update every week, so check next week to see if I’ve found a mentor and see some design sketches!


23 Sep 1969, Los Angeles, California, USA. Image by © Bettmann/CORBIS
23 Sep 1969, Los Angeles, California, USA. Image by © Bettmann/CORBIS

Angela Davis: Political activist, scholar, social justice extraordinaire – and still going strong. Here’s a little background info about her life and rally for social and political change:

Born 1944, currently 70 years of age. Angela lived in Birmingham, Alabama USA, an area well known for segregation and nicknamed “Dynamite Hill” for the bombings it went through. She grew up in a tight knit black community, surrounded by her mother and community leaders, all of whom were influenced by the Communist Party. She was also influenced by her professor Herbert Marcuse in university, where she was 1 out of 3 black students in her class. Her first encounter with the FBI was an interview after attending a communist-sponsored international event for a youth and students festival. She became an assistant professor of philosophy at UCLA but was fired for her political associations with communism. When it was ruled that she couldn’t be fired for her politics, the regents of the university fired her for “use of inflammatory language” in her lectures. She was later arrested and charged for kidnapping, conspiracy  and murder when a guns used in a kidnapping attempt were traced to be registered under her name.

Being a woman, Angela Davis got a lot of notoriety as one of the “Top Ten Most Wanted Women” on the FBI’s list.

However, she did not take part in the kidnapping and was cleared after supporters of her cause rose up in protest of her imprisonment. That was the defining moment of her career. After being in a US prison, her passion about the social justice system solidified, and she has committed herself to this work for nearly her entire life.


I’m hoping this project will lead me into learning more about justice, and the different ideas people have about it. As I learn more about Angela Davis’s work, I intend to be doing some work of my own researching who decides how the justice system works, how we are currently fulfilling “justice” with our justice system, and what challenges it faces and points that can be improved on. Because of my eminent person’s area of expertise, I will probably focus on prisons specifically. For the same reason I’ll look at racial discrimination and inter-racial tensions in the justice system.

The Ferguson shooting is an example of how, even now, unter-racial tensions are still very much present within the justice system.
The Ferguson shooting is an example of how, even now, inter-racial tensions are still very much present within the justice system.

If I have time, I may dig deeper into my own wonders about culture: how can we preserve it without singling out or stereotyping individuals based on it? Last year, Lyle’s word sonder tied into this topic really well – but more on that later.

 In some ways, Angela Davis and I are worlds apart, despite both living on the same continent. She’s black, I’m white. Nowadays we may not consider this to be that different, but as the Ferguson shooting proved, there are still many inter-racial tensions between black and white peoples. Also, in Angela Davis’s lifetime, she experienced the segregated schools and black/white zoning that was commonplace in the 50s and 60s. Black people were:

  • more likely to get arrested for the same crimes as white people
  • rarely ever got paid as much as whites
  • and were denied economic loans made available to white people

Our age gap also separates us, and I have both the privilege of being white and the era of equality. However, this supposed era highlights the similarities between us: we’re both female. Though more acceptable today, feminism is still a widely spread issue, and takes place throughout all genders (not just women). angela-davisquotecompositebymeOn top of this, we were both born into middle-class families, and while schooling was definitely more difficult for her due to segregated schools, we both have the financial stability to go to post-secondary schools. This obviously opens up a lot more options for a career, and intellectual discussion for society’s advancement.

We both want to make a positive change in the world; however, in different areas. Angela was very politically involved from a young age, being in communist youth groups and growing up with politics embedded in her family life. I’m not – I’m more into sustainability and the environment. It’s only recently that I’ve started to take interest in politics since I’m getting closer to the voting age, and of course Mr. J has helped me realize that we need more people to care about where the country is headed.

As Dr. Seuss said in The Lorax, “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”


My personal learning goals for the year are to broaden my horizons and take meaningful risks. I’m curious about the prison-industrial complex, and why it is easier to go to jail than get a public education. Seriously, does that sound right to you?

The prison-industrial complex is a termed coined by Angela Davis to describe the state of prisons in the US.
The prison-industrial complex is a termed coined by Angela Davis to describe the state of prisons in the US.

Eminent will help especially with developing me interpersonal and technology skills when preparing for interviews, and gathering resources and synthesizing information. I’m going to try and connect to more people this year, have more informal discussions with classmates, and reach a mutual understanding between my person and myself about how we relate to each other. Hopefully this project will lead to the discovery of new interests, and go in-depth on the passions I share with Angela Davis: equality and acceptance. I want to develop my understanding of  who I am, what I really believe in, and find or make a place for myself in the world – though I suppose that’ s more of a life goal than one for just this year!