With the end of the spring semester behind me comes the end to my time as President of my local Turning Point USA chapter on campus. For the past two years I have run, organized, and lead my chapter. I have hosted multiple events, I have dealt with a free speech battle, I have seen members join and become fellow leaders. While I am proud of all that I have done, I also know that there were many mistakes and fumbles I made along the way.
Here are five mistakes that I made as a leader that you can hopefully avoid.
Thinking I have to do everything alone
The biggest and most constant mistake I made was thinking that, to be a leader, meant doing everything alone. I assumed that to be a good President of an organization, I had to handle every single small aspect of every project or job. From the paperwork, to the marketing, to the production of supplies. I thought I had to do all of it.
This is the furthest thing from the truth. A good leader knows how to delegate. I should have understood that being able to separate jobs into smaller tasks and then assigning them to other people would mean better success for my chapter and more sanity for myself. Don’t work yourself in the ground more than you need to simply because of pride and unrealistic expectations.
Comparing myself to others
This is a mistake that I am proud to have conquered. In the world of social media, it’s easy to see other leaders across the country posting about their successful events, about the publicity they are getting, or the large size of their membership. I spent my first year as a leader, torturing myself by thinking about how I couldn’t compete or compare with these other leaders I was seeing.
You never know what someone else’s journey, struggles, or situation in life is. It is impossible to create a fair comparison because of that. You are your own individual, and I am my own individual. We will never be the same. It isn’t healthy to compare ourselves to each other. This mistake can be toxic to one’s self-esteem and mental health. I have become a better leader and have seen more growth and progress because I have stopped making this mistake.
Not utilizing resources available to me
There are more allies and resources available to you than you ever thought possible. By neglecting to research or reach out to these resources, I made a huge mistake as a leader. I found myself constantly surprised when I got an email offering help or supplies. I can’t help but think about all the opportunities I missed out on because I didn’t take the time to look into what was available to me.
Your local businesses, other organizations on campus, and national systems like the Campus Freedom Alliance or the Leadership Institute are all great resources to any leader. Don’t be afraid to reach out to them. The worst that can happen is that you get told no and you look elsewhere. These are all places that are willing to help you grow as a leader.
Being scared of the university administration
This is a mistake that specifically conservative leaders make on campus. They fear or don’t trust the entirety of their University administration. While this fear may be justified in some cases due to tactics and actions by the administration, a lot of this time this fear only inhibits you from finding more success.
This was a mistake that took me a long time to fix. In recent months I have learned that I should hear out and reach out more to the administration of the University. There are issues that can be avoided simply by having that line of communication open. There are battles that you can win and event roadblocks that you can avoid by simply putting your thoughts out there.
Not taking time to enjoy it
This is the mistake that I have come to regret the most. I know that, as a leader, I spent most of my time worrying and stressing. My mind was constantly thinking about the next problem, about the worst case scenario, and about the tasks on my to-do lists. I hosted a 350+ person event, and did not get to enjoy my introduction of the speakers because I was worrying about the possibility of protesters.
Enjoy you time as a leader. You will find adventures and make memories that you will hold with you forever. Never forget that if you lose the fun for what you are doing, you can lose your passion for it as well. Enjoy each and every moment that comes your way. Eventually it comes to an end. You will regret not having spent more time enjoying the ride.
As leaders, all of us will make mistakes. We will stumble, we will have regrets, and we will wish we had done things differently. The most important thing is to learn from these mistakes, so you can grow and become a stronger leader than you ever thought was possible.