LDP Blog

Failure Brings Progress

By Team Quake

Madeleine Meyer

One of the biggest lessons I’ve taken to heart since joining the Leadership Development Program is to look at each failure as a lesson. Questions we ask often in the LDP are, “What did I do right?”  “What did I do wrong?” and, most importantly, “What can I do better next time?”

During my project last year, I had to deliver a vision speech that would spark motivation amongst my team members. Since my project, Spring Orientation, was so large and important, my speech needed to be impactful. I practiced and practiced, trying to make it perfect. After delivering my vision speech, I heard a “Nope, try it again.” from the back of the room. I was instantly mortified. I struggled to recite my speech from memory again. Still, it was not good enough. This cycle happened eight times, before I was told to come back next week with a different speech. I had failed. My vision speech was not what I had imagined it would be.

Looking back on this experience, I realize now that I had done it all wrong. I had only consulted one person for feedback, and that was early in my speech writing. I did not use my team or resources to find a way in which I could be inspiring for such a large project. When trying to motivate a team, starting strong is a key factor in the project’s success. Luckily, I had a great team who ensured that the project went smoothly, despite any hiccups in the process. Without my failure of a vision speech, I would not have learned the skills I might someday need to inspire a team to work together towards a shared goal.

Steven Bartoszewski

One of my coworkers once told me, “Failure is inevitable in life. It’s not failing or winning that makes a person, it’s how you react that’s important. Do you wallow in sorrow or learn and make yourself better for next time?”

One of the most significant setbacks I’ve experienced, since starting at SIU, was failing to submit my resume to three major automotive companies. They were Ford, General Motors, and Chrysler. In Fall 2018, those three companies came to SIU to interview students for internship positions. I did not have my resume ready, nor had I practiced any interviewing skills. I failed to be prepared.

My reaction was to quickly have my resume reviewed by numerous people, practice interviewing skills with my team and apply for as many other internship opportunities as possible. I turned the feeling of failure into motivation. If not for this failure, I would never have pushed myself to get back up and continue working towards this goal. If everything would have simply fallen into place for me, I would have never felt the sense of strength and accomplishment I do today.

Alexis Chambers

“If you don’t succeed, it doesn’t mean you are a failure. If you do succeed, it doesn’t mean that you are king of the world.”

David Beard, an Australian professional men’s volleyball player was truly onto something when saying this. Failure is inevitable. You will win some and you will lose some.

For me, this lesson was learned through playing volleyball. When I first started playing competitively, I hated the sport. In the game, there are times where you are unable to control the outcome of the play. This lack of control drove me insane- until I learned one of the most valuable lessons in both volleyball and life. You are going to fail, no matter how hard you try not to. In volleyball, it is a part of the game. You can’t score a point if neither of the teams makes an error. This same lesson can be applied to the real world. No matter how hard you try, it is inevitable that you will fail at some point. It is how you cope with this failure that can transform you from an Average Joe into an amazing leader. The ability to rally your team, even in the low points, is an important characteristic for a leader. One that can transform a good leader to an exceptional leader.

Brock Ward

When I first came to SIU, I had a little trouble with my Spanish class. In the first week, I misunderstood what my teacher said one day. I thought that our quiz was over grammar, when it actually was over vocab. I ended up failing my first quiz in Spanish, which made me extremely worried about my grade. I wondered how it would affect my GPA and if it could make me lose my scholarship.

Instead of feeling sorry for myself, I decided to do everything I could to improve my grade in Spanish. The steps I took to work on my grade were seeing my professor every week in his office hours and seeing a tutor weekly. Through the extra work, I was able to end the semester with an A in the class. That grade was much more rewarding to see than my other classes, because it was the one I had to work the hardest for. Not only did spending time in my professor’s office hours help my grade, but it also helped us to form a good relationship. This semester I am in an independent study with that same professor, and it is going very well.

It was initially hard for me to see my bad grade, and I was disappointed in myself. However, many good things came out of my failure. It felt good to see all of my hard work pay off, and I would never have gotten to know my professor as well as I do now. The bad grade was not something I wanted, but I learned from my failure and that payed off.

Inspirational Speeches

By Team Hercules

Gannon Druessel

Inspirational speeches are so close to me because of the sheer power words can have. The correct words spoken with passion can change someone’s day or even their life. When thinking about these types of speeches, one in particular comes to mind. My high school football coach gave a powerful speech right before we stepped onto the field to compete for a state championship. I am not going to recite the whole speech, but I would like to discuss a few main points that have impacted my life.

He started off talking about how everybody had written us off, how we were the underdogs and how no one expected us to win. This created a spark of motivation within me, for that night and the rest of my life. When people doubt you, you have nothing to lose and everything to gain. To do what people never thought was possible gives the most glorious feeling ever.

The second part was centered on how to focus on those who do believe in you. “When you doubt,” he said, “think about the people who believe in you the most: your family, your closest friends and your teammates. Those are the people I want in your minds and your hearts.” Giving your absolutely best effort is more meaningful when you do it for the people who care about you, because you don’t want to let them down.

The last part was the part that hit hardest. He talked about how you aren’t always going to win. At some point, everybody loses a battle. Even if you fight your hardest, you will still lose a battle. What makes one a great leader is that in the midst of that battle he does not lose himself. You get back up and keep smiling, and when you can’t get back up by yourself, your team will be there to pick you up.

These key lessons gave me great insight on how to deal with challenges throughout life. As proof that words can make a huge impact, we won the state championship in football with a score of   41-8.

AJ Ross

When I think of inspirational speeches, I think back to my Fixed Operations Management class where the teacher showed us a video titled Michael Jr: Know Your Why. The video is not inspiring on its own, but I found the message to be so powerful. In the video, Michael asks a man to sing a song that the man knew, and he did pretty well. Then Michael asks the man to sing the same song, but the “hood version.” Michael told the man to pretend that he had a rough life. The man sings the same song, but with such emotion that it was almost unrecognizable. It was absolutely beautiful. Michael then goes on to talk about how the man could obviously sing before, but once he knew why he was singing, he had made art.

This message about the “Why” is what stood out to me. It really made me think about my life goals and why I had them. We have also talked about the “Why” in LDP, and this video is really just a great representation of how knowing why you’re doing something can really motivate your team. After seeing this video, before I do anything else, I think of the reason I am doing it. Not only does this motivate me, but it motivates the people I work with. I recently organized an event though the automotive department. It was a three day event for finding out who had the fastest car at SIU. As you can imagine, this was a massive event and I couldn’t do it alone. So, I put together a team, and I have seen how showing your team why you want to do something can motivate them to do great things. Going beyond that, telling them why they are doing something or why that something is done a certain way, makes them understand what you’re trying to do so much better. Any inspirational speech is just an explanation of the “why.”

Balancing Your Commitments

By Team Storm

Madison Wilderman

“I don’t have enough time,” was a statement that I used to say very frequently.  As a busy college student juggling a job, social life, school work, outside studying, even finding time for that wonderful mid-afternoon nap was a major struggle. I may have gotten my assignments done, but at what cost?  I would push myself to the late hours of the night- just to wake up at 5:00 AM the next day, feeling drained and sluggish. I felt like I didn’t have any time for friends or even myself. 

That was all two years ago when I attended my community college. Fast-forwarding to now, my life is much different (and a lot less stressful).  If someone would have told me I could do 10 times as many things and have more time, I probably would’ve called them crazy. The LDP has taught me to prioritize not only my time, but others’ time. Learning how to prioritize and manage my time has made my life come to a complete 180. I prioritize each section of my life; school work; RSO’s; actuary studying; social time; meals; exercise; sleeping; even the occasional bonus nap.  Having a priority list helps me not only accomplish my goals, but allows me to accomplish them efficiently.  Prioritizing events and tasks allow me to be a more futuristic thinker and work on not only my career goals, but my personal ones. If it hadn’t been for this skill that the LDP taught me, I would be a nervous wreck about 99.87% of the time.

Joao Facciotti

It is everybody’s dream to be able to rest and relax a bit after an exhausting day of work. Being able to lay down on the couch, put your feet up, turn the TV on and watch your favorite show or movie. However, something that I only learned recently is the importance of a good relaxation period. If you want to achieve success, that is. I learned that in the same way that we have to plan our work beforehand for it to turn out the best way possible, we have to do the same for our resting periods. Before, I would work on something non-stop, until the moment I got tired and couldn’t keep going. After that, I would take a moment to “rest” until I felt re-energized enough to go back to work.

However, what I noticed is that even after I stopped working, my mind would be busy thinking about what I had to do next, or if the things I was doing were good enough. I noticed that these thoughts in my head would consume the very energy I was trying to regain. That is when I started to plan my rest as well, and what I have noticed is that, though my resting time decreased, the quality has increased many times over. By planning my breaks, my productivity increased and my levels of stress and exhaustion decreased. 

Nelson Fernandes

In the society we live in presently, everybody has twenty-four hours per day, regardless of whether you are rich, poor or in-between. So, the question we must ask ourselves is: How do I use my twenty-four hours? More importantly, what can I do to better myself and not only make my life flow smoothly, but achieve more? I personally find myself balancing and managing my life well, which allows me to venture further and be more involved in various places. I have my entire day planned out, from the necessities such as eating, down to the important meetings. This way, I can keep my head free from stress by remembering what I need to do in a day and into what more I can do in this day.

 Currently, humanity has entered the Screen Age and it means precisely what it sounds like. People are looking at a digital screen for the large majority of their day. This is especially true for cellular devices, which are filled with distractions specifically engineered to grab someone’s attention. A study, conducted by Baylor University, found that the average college student spends 10 hours per day on their cell phone. Other studies find at least nine hours per day. At the end of each day, I review the amount of time I use my cell phone and determine if it was an excessive amount, and how I can use my phone less to be more productive instead. Nonetheless, having skills like time management, and working efficiently rather than working to stay busy are the key attributes that allow me to be involved in a broad range of activities. 

Role Models as Great Leaders

By Team Elektra

“Be who you needed when you were younger.” 


Jessica Higginbotham

Role Models are all around us. They are friends, peers, people a step ahead in life, and those with years of experience. For as much as we would like to handle life on our own, we need role models to guide the way and push us towards our own form of excellence. I have found that the best examples of role models are those that exemplify the qualities that we want to achieve in life; that is why we look up to them.

In LDP, we try our best as mentors to be role models to our mentees by “Modeling the Way.” This is an exemplary practice from The Leadership Challenge, an incredible book that states that being a leader starts by holding yourself to any standard that you would potentially hold your team to.

 My professional mentor, JR McGee, is a role model to me, as his actions match his words. He is contentious and dedicated, while also being a strong-willed man that will fight to hold true to the ideals he believes in. During the service project last Team Week, JR pushed himself further than any other member. He did this while still caring for the growth of our new team members when they started to feel overwhelmed. I look at those qualities and I see the practical ways in which he lives them out; the ways that I can live them out. I hope in the same way that he exemplifies a lifestyle that I want to work towards, that I can model the way for my mentees as they continue to learn about the practices that the LDP teaches.

Connor Eigelberger

When I think about role models I have quite a few exceptional people that come to mind. From my father to my great grandpa and my great-uncle, all are great in their own ways. Perhaps the most unique of those would be my Uncle, Robert Eigelberger. He is a former St. Louis developer, and now a famous historic preservationist in the town of

Palm Beach, Florida.  

Drive through the now glamorous island and you’ll see houses and compounds with an average price of over $1 million. But when ‘Uncle Bob’, as his closest friend call him, first arrived on the island, it was little more than a run-down coastal island. That’s when he took it upon himself to make the island what it is. Using his sense of ingenuity and spunk, he created a historic yet timeless look that remains on many of the island’s most iconic structures. It is almost impossible to envision how he managed this, knowing that he came from so little.

Robert worked himself up to obtain degrees in Financial Sciences and Economics from Mizzou and The University of Missouri at St. Louis. Using this knowledge to fund his passion in creativity and design. In my eyes this is something I strive for every day; finding that passion in life and just running with it. Of all the things he has taught me on my many trips to Palm Beach, the one that sticks with me to this day is to always be yourself. Be loud, be proud, and be sure to pursue your dreams to your fullest extent.

Zachary Boehl

When others ask me who my role model is, I find myself unable to pinpoint just one. In my mind, a role model is anyone that, when you find yourself unsure of a situation, you can ask yourself, “What would X do/not do?” Every leader that I’ve ever interacted with has fit that definition. After all, if it takes a village to raise a child, would it not take a village to raise a leader? Every leader has a lesson to offer you, whether you think the world of them or try to avoid thinking of them at all. 

Who HASN’T found themselves in a position underneath a leader that they found, shall we say, unfit for their role? Everyone has met many leaders throughout their lives. Some are the embodiment of excellence, while others fall short of their followers’ expectations. For most of us, the great leaders become the role models that we reference when deciding what actions we should take as leaders- no, as people. Something that few people think of, though, is that our interactions with bad leaders influence how we act as leaders just as much as the great leaders. 

I have flaws, and they cause me to make mistakes at some points in my life. To help myself limit those mistakes, more often than not, I find myself thinking of the poor leaders that I have worked under. I consider how their actions negatively affected me, and how I can avoid causing others to suffer the same fate. This thought process helps me to help those that follow me in the ways that I needed when I was younger. So, I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of those who taught me what to do as a leader and, just as importantly, what not to do.

Great Leaders are Servant Leaders

By Team Zatana

Breanna Whitley

The concept of “servant leadership” was coined by Robert K. Greenleaf in an essay “The Servant as a Leader” in 1970. Greenleaf believed that a servant-first leader is inspired to lead by ensuring that other people’s highest priority needs are being served. A servant leader shares any accumulation of power with the people they serve, puts the needs of others first, and strives to improve communities. The truth of the matter is that great leaders care deeply about people, and often this translates as seeking opportunities to improve people’s lives.

If you look closely at the model of the Leadership Development Program, it becomes apparent that servant leadership is at the heart of our mission. LDP exists to enrich the lives of students by inspiring them to use leadership as their platform to advocate for a better world. This is achieved through leadership development methodology and real-time practice during community service projects. This model of practicing leadership through service and volunteerism, is very much intentional. It allows us to think about how our actions today will benefit the future. It allows us to understand that servant leadership is not a style, it is behaviors that reflect a selfless dedication to do better.

Throughout the past ten years, the LDP has participated in a myriad of volunteer opportunities that equate to an immeasurable impact on our campus and community. In my first Team Week alone, our team completed over thirty hours of volunteer work at the Southern Illinois Science Center. This was my first exposure to servant-leadership, and arguably my most impactful. We completed numerous projects during our time at the Science Center, including construction of multiple exhibits and the
remodeling of others. Completing these projects with the team was extremely gratifying, but the real gratification came when I visited The Science Center a couple weeks later. As I walked into The Science Center, I saw young kids and adults alike interacting with the exhibits the LDP created. At that moment, I realized that our actions during Team Week had become a permanent fixture at The Science Center, and even-more-so, a permanent fixture in the lives of hundreds of children that visit The Science Center.

Tyler Harrell

My favorite volunteer experience was the Red Cross Blood Drive, when the LDP was responsible for collecting donor signatures and assisting with the event. It occurred in a busy point in the semester for me, but I managed to find time to help get signatures. It was hard at first trying to get the necessary signatures because many people had needle phobias and were reluctant to help. However, by the end of my time there we had a multitude of signatures.

When the day came for people to donate blood, it was amazing to see how many people actually donated, and among them, how many I recognized as the individuals with phobias that managed to overcome them, so they could help others. It felt like I really helped make a difference. This experience helped me to refine my leadership skills by putting them to action. I was able to model the way by putting my own name on the donation list originally. Secondly, it showed me how much of an impact an individual can make by going out of the way to make something happen.

Ruben Moro Roman

I believe that servant leadership is an essential component of being a good leader for the following reasons. By being a servant leader you are able to collaborate with others easily and they with you. Not only this, but you will also grow as a leader by being a better listener and being more mindful; you will have a team first attitude. I believe that as a servant leader you are able to lead as an example much easier, and by contributing and volunteering in the community you are strengthening and building those bonds and using those skills that make a great leader.

My favorite volunteering activity is when Steven and I volunteer for Habitat for Humanity. The reason for this was because I was able to take part, even if it was a small part like putting up drywall, helping give a family a home and the potential for a brighter future.

Pushing for Success

Madeleine Meyer

“I pledge to support my fellow LDP members, hold them accountable to our shared values, and challenge them to push beyond their limits.” We recite our pledge every week, and I can say with honesty that my team holds true to these words. In my short time at SIU, I have been able to accomplish everything I have put my mind to because of the support from my LDP team. No matter how much I am struggling in my classes or how overwhelming my jam-packed schedule is, there’s sure to be a push from my team telling me that I can do it AND that I can do it better.

As an Automotive Technology student, it is important to set yourself apart because job hunting is highly competitive in our industry. While LDP certainly sets me apart from other students, I wanted to do more to show my passion for my fellow classmates and the industry. This caused me to become what I like to call “involvement crazy.” In addition to the LDP, I work as a digital marketing specialist for the automotive department, am a co-chair of the Women in Automotive Transportation Technology RSO, media manager for the Automotive Technology Organization RSO, and a member of Automotive Ambassadors. While the work load is heavy, it is easier to meet and exceed my goals with the support of my team and friends; and with that support, I was awarded the L.D. Willey Outstanding Student Award. This award is given out to one automotive student “based upon attitude toward work, ability to work well with peers, motivation to achieve, enthusiasm to learn, class attendance, and GPA.” I am incredibly thankful for the Leadership Development Program for influencing my life with such positivity so that I can have the same impact on the Automotive Technology Department.

Leadership: Strength in Numbers

By Olivia Hood

“Find a group of people who challenge and inspire you, spend a lot of time with them, and it will change your life.” – Amy Poehler

   Before joining the LDP, I was an extremely independent person in every aspect of my life, especially when I was chosen to lead a project or group. This made learning to lean on your team one of my hardest lessons since entering the LDP. After being immersed into a group that was so goal-orientated, efficient, and inspiring this change began to happen quickly.

As the leader of the MLK Day project at the Carbondale Science Center, leaning on my team was the biggest key factor in order to accomplish our goal. We had four different projects going on at the Science Center that all needed to be accomplished to our standard of excellence in a single day. After finding out the amount of things that had to be done, I decided to designate four subleaders to run each smaller project. Leading four subleaders was a very beneficial experience in order to apply all of the skills I have been learning. Not only was I leading and motivating a group of 37 people, but I was also coaching four incredible leaders in expanding and strengthening their own abilities. Designating subleaders not only helped me ensure that everything was done to excellence, but also helped the rest of our team have guidance through every step of the day.

In reflection, I could not have led this whole project without my four teammates helping guide our team and solve problems throughout the day. Amy Poehler was right when she said a good group will change your life, because I know that LDP as a whole organization has transformed me into a better person and I can actively see that change helping others. 

What if I don’t want to be a leader?

By Diogo Seixas

What if I don’t want to be a leader? 

I received this question a while ago at one of my speeches and it made me think a lot. 

Diogo, what if I don’t want to be a leader? 

I confess that, at first thought, I didn’t have an answer. I was thinking, “why wouldn’t someone want to be a leader?” The first thoughts that came to my mind were fear, social acceptance, communication issues, and fear of commitment.  

After reflecting, while people were waiting for my answer and after the speech was over, I concluded that people don’t want to be leaders because they haven’t found something that is worth fighting for. They haven’t found their motivation. 

Motivation = motives to action 

It doesn’t matter where you are, what you do for work, or what your company believes. Finding the motives that propel you into action is something that is extremely important in order for everyone to understand what they fight for in life.  

If you allow me, I would like to give you two pieces of advice. 

The first one goes to all leaders that can’t develop new leaders: I dare to say that you can’t do it because you may be having a hard time communicating the vision of your organization. To engage people through a common goal, leaders need to have a close relationship with their team to understand what their desires are and to be able to develop that vision. Reminder: when you are a leader, if things are not happening like you want, it’s your fault! To resolve this, try different actions in order to receive new results. 

The second piece of advice goes to those of you that haven’t found your motives to be a leader yet. There is a company called YOU, and you have been leading that company for a while now. Everything that happen inside this organization is your responsibility and will guide the direction your life takes. You need to assume control of your own company before leading others. 

Do you need better motives than this? 

Although, there is no point in having a motive if you don’t first have an action. 

I believe that you’ve probably never thought about the real meaning of the word proactivity. Being proactive means being self-conscience of the barriers that need to be broken internally before you can perform any action. Being proactive also means having the imagination to think about the possible scenarios where you can take risks in life, while still being conscience of your own actions. 

Proactivity is a behavior, and behaviors are a choice. Finding your motivation and being proactive may be one of the key foundations of leadership. With that being said, it doesn’t matter where you came from or who you are surrounded by. What matters is the time and effort you put in to get the results you desire in your life as a leader.  

Exchange Present Dedication for a Brilliant Future

By Diogo Seixas

Isn’t it funny to think of the present like currency?  

We dedicate moments from our present in order to be able to enjoy a brilliant future.  

Short and simple. 

The quote itself doesn’t need much explanation however, a very important statement lies behind it: the power to become whatever we want to be is in our own hands.  So often, you are in this denial that you can’t become this or that but, the whole time you are only denying your own amazing future. Every time you tell yourself that you can’t, you are limiting your own power! 

In result, you end up exchanging very few dedicated moments from your present life for only the rare possibility of a brilliant future.  Maybe that happens because we always want something very intangible and  unattainable. Maybe it happens because there are other limiting factors that don’t  allow us to have the attitude of “I think I can”. However, I believe that understanding the  motives of why we think like this is not the most important factor that will make the  biggest impact on your future. 

To break this cycle, the secret is to think of ourselves like a sculpture. 

Your future is like a big wood block, massive and solid. From this moment on, you are an artist and your only tool is a chisel. Your job is to shape that piece of wood every day, little by little. It won’t be easy and will take a long time, but the more time you spend shaping it, the more beautiful and fascinating it will become. The key to making this masterpiece is patience in your work and your choices. 

Working on your future won’t always be easy or fun because things that matter in life are usually hard to get. Think about the time you invested in carving your block, is it the same amount of time that you spend making choices about your future? It doesn’t matter where you start, what matters is the work and time you put into creating your own brilliant future.  

Don’t worry if you don’t know what you want the final result of your sculpture to look like. You may start carving a duck and, in the end, create a beautiful eagle. The important thing is to begin carving the block of wood to start the process of making something beautiful. 

What matters most are the choices you make in life. Every choice you make will lead  you to a positive or negative experience, which will also lead you to life lessons. The person you will become is a direct consequence of the experiences you have lived. The more experiences you have, the more beautiful your sculpture will be.  

Therefore, only when you dedicate moments from your present life will you have the  chance of a brilliant future. As soon as you begin to carve your block of wood that is your life, the beauty will begin  to shine through your piece of art. 

How To Show Initiative as a Leader

Green Team

Ryan Nick

The LDP has shown me that leaders often take the path less traveled; this path is difficult and involves an element of personal risk. I believe each day in life we are given the choice between the right way and the easy way. Often people take the path of least resistance or they choose a course of action that feels safe. Taking initiative means putting yourself at risk and choosing what is right in order to seek a better result. I identify moments where I need to step up by asking one simple question, “Am I nervous?”. If the answer is “yes” then I feel the need to step out of my comfort zone and head down the path less traveled. I know that the feeling in my stomach may be uncomfortable but only through discomfort will I grow as a leader. Taking initiative in my life has changed who I am as a person, has changed how I learn leadership, and has influenced the lives of people around me. Today I am happy to walk the path less traveled, even if at some points it scares me.

Alexis Chambers

Walking into team week, I had not experienced Spring Orientation like the rest of the members. I was the only freshman member and had only met one of my teammates before. With all of this in mind, I had decided to stay under the radar and not stand out. However, this plan was quickly dismissed during one of our first activities, cleaning the cabins. Keeping with my idea of staying under the radar, I was not jumping to volunteer when Dr. DeRuntz requested two leaders to be in charge of each cabins’ team. However, at the urging of my mentor, Ryan Nick, I raised my hand. After this, taking initiative became easier. I was no longer scared to stand out and I felt assured that even if I struggle, my team would be there to support me. The LDP challenges you to test your limits. I know that even when these limits are reached and I am struggling, my teammates will always be there to guide and assist.

Connor Eigelberger

One of my biggest weaknesses has always been public speaking. This was a major reason for me to join the LDP. Yet within months of me joining Dr. DeRuntz came to the LDP with a challenge, one of us should volunteer to run for President of Undergraduate Student Government. Without knowing what I had just signed up for I raised my hand and within two weeks I was debating huge political issues in front of Journalists and students and my name was everywhere. From the chalk that read ‘Eigelberger to President’ to the newspapers, I was immortalized in a way I never would’ve expected my simple initiative to join to take me this far. And after it all I learned so much from it, and I can officially say I am a much better speaker because of it.