Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Broken Leader

I'm not sure why I was reminded of the leadership camp I was in about one and a half year ago. It was actually a regeneration process for a student organization thing. The situation is about like this. There are about 31 student groups, name it A, B, C, D, etc. Each one has a head of the group, who holds the position for one year. The purpose of the camp is to find one replacement for the old head of the group. One head of the group can bring one or two candidate(s) to the camp. Well, the 31 student groups were under 4 departments, and each department has a head of department, one of whom was me. And then above all of the departments, there is one guy in the highest position in the camp.

I remember two of the most uplifting experiences I found in the camp. You could say that was my first experience in being a trainer and a motivator in something which is not physical. I mean, I did give a first-aid training to my juniors, and train their stamina, etc, but I was never one to stand up in front of a group of people and give a speech. For me it's always been teaching-by-doing thing. Heh heh.

Well, in the camp the head of the groups at that moment and the candidates were put randomly into four groups, and the head of the departments were put randomly to lead each of the groups. We were suppossed to be a moderator in a sharing moment, about being the risk, the previlege, and the responsibility of a head of the group, so that the candidates can understand more about what they were getting into, and give them time to considerate about whether or not they want to be the next head of the group. In some cases, there were candidates who until that moment didn't want to take the position, and the head of the group took them to the camp to futher motivate them.

So, there was this one sweet guy who was the head of group A, and one of his candidates was happened to be in my group. He asked me to give more attention to that girl because he was desperate to have her become the next head of group A. She always said no until that moment, saying she's too busy with her study, but she would be happy to be the vice.

Long story short, I succeed in convincing her to be the next head of group A. It was a 'fun' play for me, giving clues and twisting one sharing after another, and giving a personal one of mine, being careful to switch the focus to meet the girl's problem. But that wasn't the most memorable part. The most memorable part was when the head of group A came to me and thanked me for making his candidate to say 'yes' wholeheartedly. It made me feel really really good. It made me realize that yes, even though I'm most usually being a too-nice girl who cannot even defend herself from others' bullying and manipulation, I can make other people change their minds, I can affect people.

The second memory, which is actually the best, because that was the first time I've ever experinced, came after that. Still in the four groups, we played a game, competing between those four groups. We were to stand in circle then face one way, so that each person will stand behind another person, but still in circle. Then everyone should sit, and whichever group holds the position longest, win. But as the leader, the head of the department cannot be in the game. They could not help either. They could only cheer or give commands. Problem was that the position hurt, and it happened that one member of my group had a problem with her leg. I always think that desperation and pain in a teamwork will make the team works better together. I cheered them on while kept reminding them to care for the one with the leg problem, and everyone seemed to sacrifice a little more weight to themselves so that the girl could get a little weight off of her. It was a beautiful teamwork, and it hurt me not to be able to be in it. It's when I felt useless, like a broken leader. Like a commander who can't go to the battle with her army. Maybe also like a husband who watches his wife in a delivering room. But we won! And I celebrated with them, congratulating them. We got a present, which turned out to be a package of chocolate sticks. The sweetest moment was when one of them gave it to me, and when I told them it was suppossed to be shared among them cause they were the one who fought for it, they told me that it was because of my cheering and how I kept on motivating them, that they were able to hold on till the end. Damn. It was so damned flattering. Here I thought I was so useless and couldn't be the part of the teamwork, while actually everyone thought I was in the team all the way. We shared the chocolate sticks anyway in the end.

I remembered today about the conclusion I took at that time. I'm not a leader who serves as a public figure. I'm the type who should stand behind the leader, giving my thoughts for consideration, and back them up whenever needed. The behind-the-scene person, if you will. Or downright a front-liner leader. That I can do. Leading while doing the job together. But it's no coincidence that I held the record for being a vice more than anyone, a position that is looked as useless by some people. And it's no coincidence that I got a heartfelt thank you's from most of the leaders for being their vice. It's what I do best, though of course it matters that I partner with a leader who is willing to listen to me, trusting me, and not afraid of being vulnerable in front of me.

I'm a broken leader who has no skill and no way to make people following me. But by some sort of miracle, I attract leaders and I have the qualities needed to fill the position as vice without being useless. It's funny, huh? And when I think about it... I think that's how I wanna function in a relationship too. :D

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Larger Than Life

I've just realized, I've never really understood what 'larger than life' means. Hey, you who graduated from English literature, please help me here.

But I have an imagery of the phrase in my mind. I imagine something that's limitless, something that's fearless, something that is... larger than life itself. And when I think of a person who fits that imagery, I think of Melissa.

She has just done something amazing, again. I'm so proud of her and I'm so proud to be her fan. Someone who doesn't love her music, well, okay, though I don't understand I can tolerate that, because music is unexplainable, it's much like sexual orientation in a way. Some may like men, some like women, some like both, some like the fat ones, some like the skinny ones, some like the talls and some like the shorts. Whatever. But I'm sure I can't like someone who doesn't admire her in person (at least from how she appears in public).

Have you ever heard about Rick Warren? I've heard his name from his book, which I never read. But the first time I researched about him was when there was this big tide of threads and comments about 'Obama's first mistake'. It was about how Obama invited pastor Rick Warren to his innaugural. Problem was, Warren is known as a supporter of Prop 8, and he said that for him, being gay equals with pedophilia, incest and poligamy, and therefore we cannot have the right to get married. Oops. You said something like that on public and the next thing you know, someone like Tammy would call you a Dick Warren on her blog.

Now I know that I may never meet him in my lifetime, but Melissa did. She was invited to perform to Muslim Public Affairs Council, and the keynote speaker for that event was happened to be Rick Warren. Did she bail out from the gig? Nope. Did she turn her back on him? Nope. Did she call him names and yell at him? Nope. She does what women do best: talk. She talked with him. And invited him to her house for dinner.

What did Jesus do? He invited a Roman tax-man to have dinner with him. What did Melissa do? She invited a Dick Warren to have dinner with her and her family. See a familiarity here? She is truly amazing. What makes me mad though is that she gets the backlash from fans and non-fans alike for building the bridge of peace. Can't they see it? Whether Rick will have more acceptance of gay people after talking with Melissa (it's his own word that 'tolerace is not good enough, it has to be acceptance) or not, it doesn't matter. Even if he'll remain a jerk, it doesn't matter. What matters is that Melissa has taken the first step, offering a hand through their differences. Rick accepted. Time will tell the rest. How can they blame Melissa for replacing hate with love and peace? I can only love her more for this. There's no doubt in my mind that I will continue to love her for the rest of my life.

She's larger than life. Just when I think 'Wow, I can't believe she did that!', she does something even more wonderful. And don't let me start to talk about fear. She's been fearless since she's cancer free. She's been so brave since forever, chasing her dream to California on her own, coming out when she's on the top of her carreer, putting an end to her 11 years of relationship... well, I admire her for that too. She doesn't care what anyone else said, she would choose the road less travelled. That road is difficult, it may even lead down to hell and up again, but in the long shot it leads to a greater place than the more travelled one. Damn, I'm so going to follow her more than the church. She's far more Jesus-like.