Those who know me know that I’m not usually the most outwardly enthusiastic person in the room. Unless, of course, I’m the only one in the room.

Haha.

This Summer I applied for a Fellowship to a Leadership Development program called “The Academy”, funded by the Alpha Kappa Psi Foundation. Located in Morgantown, Indiana, this all-expense-paid training serves to take the best and the brightest our Fraternity has to offer and forge them into something even greater. I was accepted.

Cool.

Now, as calm and collected as I often try to be, it’s difficult for me to deny that this experience
absolutely a life-changer. At its core, the Academy has reinforced my passion for this organization and has given me an entirely new perspective of motivation not only in the context of this Fraternity, but also in Life as a whole. I know - that sounds awfully dramatic, but bear with me.

It’ll be impossible for me to translate the entire Academy experience in just one short article – for that, you’ll need to apply to next year’s Academy; however, what I can do is leave you with a few practical takeaways I learned while in Morgantown.

Think Win-Win
Something that I’ve been notoriously guilty of is having the perception that in order to win, someone else must lose. In the business environment, this mentality often runs rampant. As we learned, this came from an imbalance in an individual’s “Courage vs. Consideration”. In essence, this dynamic highlights the discrepancy or the correspondence between someone’s ability to prioritize their own success and the success of others. Those that demonstrate high Courage and low Consideration, for example, are more likely to strive for those Win-Lose situations, whereas having both high Courage and high Consideration is a hallmark of achieving Win-Win situations. In this ever-changing world that is more interconnected than ever, it is essential to foster a sense of collaboration.

The Dimensions of an Effective Team
In relating our experiences back to the operations of our Chapter’s Executive Board, we explored the four different “roles” that people tend to take in a group environment:

Creator: as the name suggests, Creators come up with all kinds of different ideas which they share to the group. One of the typical shortcomings of the Creator, however, is that they often lack the ability to make their ideas a reality – this is where the rest of the team comes into play.

Advancer: Possessing the ability to realize a good idea when they see one, Advancers take the first step towards bringing the ideas of the Creators to life. They communicate the potential value of the project, in addition clarifying the roles that people would play in its operation.

Refiner: Another definition of the Refiner could simply be “Benjamin Baker”. Refiners put the collected idea under a microscope and scrutinize every single detail. Forethought and preparation are key tools in the repertoire of the Refiner so the group avoids further problems down the road.

Executor: These people are the ones who put the plan into action and follow through with its concrete implementation. They make sure important activities get done and focus on the bottom line.

When the facilitators were explaining these concepts to us, I immediately thought of the Executive Board of my Chapter and could use some of our past experience to pin-point what roles everyone would have a tendency to take. Armed with this knowledge, I foresee future Chapter operations being much more efficient now that we will all have an understanding of each other’s favored role in a group environment.

The Mission Statement
Many companies have mission statements – they serve as a way to demonstrate their values and
provide a measure for making consistent and responsible decisions. A personal mission statement is very similar, but there are a few more things to consider in its construction. Begin by reflecting on the following questions:

1. Who are you right now? Who do you want to become?
2. What do you want to accomplish? What values to you want to project, and what will distinguish you from others?
3. How do you plan on accomplishing those goals, and how will you project your desired image?
4. Why are you trying to accomplish those goals? Why do you want to become this person?

It’s gone through several variations, but my current Personal Missions Statement is as follows:

I will end this life knowing that I have built a legacy that will outlive me.

A Personal Mission Statement should be something that goes through several iterations before it is something you are completely satisfied with. Your aspirations and methods might very well be fluid, as should be reflected in the changes of your Mission Statement. Personal branding is integral in establishing your own sense of identity and purpose, and ensuring you never lose sight of who you are.

Those were just a few of the many concepts that were instilled within us, but one of my favorite aspects of the Academy was the sense of Brotherhood that developed between the 20 Academy Fellows. We had only known each other for a few days, but even then we felt as if we had been friends for years. Getting to know such a diverse group of people – from California to New York, all the way to London – the Academy Class of 2017 is an experience that I will remember for the rest of my life.

I’d like to give small little plug for the Alpha Kappa Psi Foundation, without whom none of this would have been possible. Every year this Fraternity continues to prove its dedication to the welfare of its members, and I am so incredibly proud to call myself a Brother of Alpha Kappa Psi.

Benjamin Baker, President - Mu Rho Chapter

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