A Great First Step – By David Santoyo

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2016’s MLK day presented an interesting opportunity for me; leading a community service project in conjunction with SIU’s Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC). However, after the ROTC was not able to participate in the project, I had to learn some of the largest aspects of leadership in a very short amount of time. The first thing that became very apparent to me was that failures happen, and you have to be flexible and able to adapt to anything that gets thrown at you. I also learned that the LDP truly is a one-of-a-kind organization that offers endless assistance. On several occasions I found myself at a point in which my situation exceeded my experience, and my superiors were more than willing to help me as soon as I asked for it. Reaching out for help is an incredible tool that many often overlook, and this resource is even missed by many professionals.

In my opinion this project was one of the more impressive projects as the team and I were able to see everyone come together to achieve a common goal. Another very important thing I learned is that planning makes a project. Planning every aspect of the project, and contingencies for those plans are things that made this project a success.¬†This experience was unforgettable and made me realize that true advancement only comes when an ordinary person is put in an extraordinary situation. That is when the leadership skills of that person are truly tested; not when things are going smoothly, but when things are strained. As far as the project is concerned, the results were phenomenal. The team displayed incredible energy, camaraderie, and initiative during this project, and having such a well-groomed team made it easy to trust them to make decisions and leave them to work without me being a manager, leaving me to oversee the entire project, and making it easier to delegate tasks and take care of the fine details of the project. The skills I learned during this project will follow me into next year’s projects, and into the real world, both professionally and in my everyday life.