Salsa, Soul, and Spirit: Leadership for a multicultural age. I have to say, I was very excited and had high expectations of this book. The title and the cover were both catchy and at the same time promised a broader understanding of leadership from different perspectives and how to really tackle leadership when you are working with diverse populations (or so I thought). I expected this book to serve as a guide, or at least starting ground in knowing how to work with and motivate leaders who come from different backgrounds. To my understanding the book offers a different purpose and focuses instead on what diverse communities (specifically latino, black and American Indian) have to contribute to the conversation of leadership. It focuses more on what they can do for the “majority” (by contributing new insights of leadership) rather than what the “majority” can do for them. This is not necessarily a bad thing. It is important to provide a platform to those voices, and this book does a good job in showcasing that leadership should be more inclusive as it has different takes on different cultures. It just is not what I was expecting from the book, although I probably should have paid more attention to the subtitle “New approaches to leadership from Latino, Black, and American Indian communities”.
Keeping that approach in mind, the book becomes more likeable. We can all learn from each of the principles described and use them to inform our own leadership, how we talk about it and even how we carry out our daily lives. I appreciated the principle that talked about the future generations. The importance of building connections with those leaders of the future, and helping them be ready for their own time to take on the world. It is essentially what we do in this field, and reading about it from a different culture’s approach was intriguing.
There was one concept I had a little bit of a problem with (if you can call it that). The second principle I to We. On first glance it seemed like a good concept, especially when it comes to talking about leadership. At its very core leadership should be more like collectivistic cultures, taking everyone into consideration, embracing everyone. Leadership should be more about others and less about oneself. While I was reading this section however, a thought popped into my mind. It sounds awesome, lets focus more on the we and less on the I. The problem comes when we begin to think of who the we is. The we should be everyone, we should be including and advocating for everyone to be part of our collective we. While I have no problem believing society at large could embrace the “we” dialogue and want to move to that, I find it difficult to believe the we would truly include everyone. Society tends to be selective in this and it would be the first hurdle to overcome before fully taking on a collectivistic approach.
My experience reading the book can be separated into 3 parts. The first impressions before reading it, the actual process of reading it, and the post (and stunned) reflection. When I first got the book and the title I thought it would be about how we deceive ourselves into thinking we are not capable of certain things, or of being leaders and how this is not true. I thought it would be a motivational book all about happy feelings. One could even say that in a way, I was in the box towards this book and the experience I would get out of it. I was looking at this title and the book and immediately assumed something from it that would fit my own needs. I truly had judged a book by its cover.
My experiences with this book had not gotten off to a good start (although I did not know that at the moment), and when it came to the process of reading it, things did not get any easier. While the way the book was written made it a little hard for me to follow and get the main ideas out, that was not my biggest struggle. As I was reading the book and going along with Tom’s (the main character in the story) process of self discovery, I found myself aligning and recalling examples of my own that fit self deception. Choices I had made that had made me be in the box towards someone, and in some cases I could recognize myself as being in the box towards someone, but could not trace it back. I had spent too much time in the box. While Tom was quick to defend himself, I began feeling panic and anxiety over past behaviors (not something that I’m unfamiliar with). As the book progressed, my experience changed with it as it looked more hopeful. Getting out of the box did not seem like it was something impossible, but rather something that I could work towards.
After reading the book, I had to had some reflection time in order to be able to truly digest what I had experienced. While it might seem cheesy, reading this truly gave me a new outlook in life and I was excited to work on myself so I could improve my relationships with other people. It may sound like a simple thing, to consider others as people but the way this book put it with the concrete examples shed a different light on that. I have begun to have conversations with my parents using this philosophy and we have managed to get to a deeper level and more common ground of understanding of little things so far, but I am excited to see how else this may grow in this relationship and in relationships with students that I work with. Something I liked about the book was that it makes it clear that it is not necessary to know someone or have a relationship with them in order to be in the box towards them. We can be in the box towards people we come into direct or indirect contact with everyday and recognizing those moments is something that will help us be generally more out of the box people (although no one really is ever completely out of the box permanently).
Intergenerational is defined as relating to, involving, or affecting several generations. This part of the book really caught my attention because it is so relevant in life right now. We have many generations that are currently working together and sometimes it feels as if we are working against each other. As a millennial (I’m not a normal millennial, I’m a cool millennial), I enjoyed that they discussed this idea that generations were living in such a “me, I” life but millennials are working towards a “we” culture. Being on a college campus, I can see this desire to change our world and make it better. Don’t get me wrong there are always people who work against that goal. The book really blew me away when it focused on this want to help our world but pointed out the weight that we also carry on top of that desire. When people hear millennials, they think of this negative view that has been placed with the generation. I am not trying to say that our generation is perfect and is always trying to progress forward because we definitely have had some set backs the past few years. On top of this push to help get our world back in shape, we carry burdens like student loans and cleaning up the mess from other generations whether they see it as a mess or not.
The students I have the pleasure to work with everyday show this drive by being positive leaders on campus. They have this craving to grow as individuals but this craving also transfers over to helping the students. Working with student government has shown this push to make changes on campus because they believe that students voice is important to hear. The student government works to make sure they hear what the students are saying and stand up for them. It is so amazing to watch them work together and make a difference on campus. I know that this inspiring push to make change
I really enjoyed this book because it is not only something that I can apply at work but also in my daily life. Leadership is not always about what you do. Leadership is about who you are and how you do what you do. The strategies and techniques are less important than the person you as a leader bring to the task of leadership. Reflecting back on my leadership experience, I can remember moments where I was in the box. As a leader, I know there have been times where I was frustrated in certain situations and it was easier to point fingers and blame others. Instead of trying to look for the problem, the book talks about viewing the struggles we face as an opportunity to observe our lives and how we live everyday. Failure in leadership is a result of self-deception. If we genuinely feel respect for people they will more open to me as a person.
The book spoke volumes to me when self-deception was discussed. We are all human so this idea of self-deception is just natural. As I was reading this book I was trying to identify a time when I was in the box. I realized that I did inflate the other person faults as well as inflate my own virtue. This led me to inflate the value of things that justify my self-betrayal and then blaming the other person. It is so easy to be in the moment and focus on yourself. We can easily justify why we didn’t pick up the trash because that is someone’s job to do that. In that moment, we are viewing that person merely as an object and not as a person. To get out of the box, we should do our best to help others achieve and be successful. In the book they write, “We can’t really achieve results like we otherwise could if we’re in the box. The question is how often we are “in the box” and how can we work to live “outside of the box”?
Each book that we read and reflect on is also discussed during our book club so that we can understand the take away from each other. I found myself pointing out “so that person would be in the box!” when in reality I was in the box based off of merely just that comment. As mentioned, we are all human and it is natural to have a biased view of problems but the challenge is working towards being outside of the box and remembering to view people as people and not as objects.
We have arrived at the second reflection of the year, and with that I don’t just mean for these blog posts, but total. Okay, I might be exaggerating (definitely am) but in a way reflecting to write this has helped me be more intentional about my reflections. Instead of letting my mind wander aimlessly (which by the way, inevitably leads to singing showtunes), reading the books and thinking about how what each one covers is applicable to me has helped me remain on course with my reflections. This does not mean that I have found all the answers, but it just feels more productive and I feel better after.
As I began reading, and thus reflecting on “Where you Work Matters” I started to feel a little anxious.I have known for a while that all colleges are different and that each one has its own culture. I also knew that in order to have some sort of fulfillment from my job I needed to be some place where I connected, that aligned with my values and that placed importance on things that I consider most important and dear. However, I had never gone about trying to materialize what this would look like. I had always just assumed I’d look at job descriptions and look into the mission and vision of the institution and that would be it. I never considered how the fact that there are different types of institutions might affect how student affairs departments function at each one based on type (I know, what was I thinking). Reading about the types, and the perspectives of SA pros who work in the different institutions has been a good start in thinking about where I want to end up. I think that I need to do further exploration, and hopefully that can be through experience, because while I enjoyed reading this and felt it had a lot of useful information, it did not make me feel like inclining in any particular direction. It just made me realize how many options there are out there, and I don’t think I’d be content with picking a path without further exploration that includes some experience. I mean, this is a big decision! Committing to an institution where you will spend your golden years, it’s a big a decision as marriage! (again, maybe exaggerating but you get what I’m saying).
I have already had the opportunity to start on this exploration journey, by experiencing different types of institution during my undergrad and now. My undergraduate school was more research type and bigger than Adams. There were many “branches” of student life, many resources and a lot of specialization from the professional staff. As big as my undergraduate school was, it was not very diverse so when I was doing my research on Adams I was very excited to find out it was an HSI. From being here for a couple of months already, I can see how the nature of the work and the way people relate to each other differs. I can see the benefits of working at both types of institutions, in general and for myself, and I have yet to find a something big I dislike that would make me not want to remain at an institution like Adams. I still have the rest of the year to keep learning as much as I can, and I am looking forward to it!
Reading “Beginning Your Journey” has been, for lack of a better word, a journey in and of itself. When I first got the book there was a mix of emotions happening. On one hand I was very excited to dive in and absorb all the information I could, but on the other hand I had this mini crisis where the path that I have chosen for my life felt real. For some reason, having a book called “Beginning Your Journey” in my hands gave my decision a sense of finality. I had to take some time to think about what my journey was, where was I in it and what it would look like from here. As soon as I began reading the panicky side that had surfaced began to calm down, as I discovered in the first chapter (and kept reading in later chapters as well) that concerns are common even if not everyone has the same ones, everyone has some.
There are many things that I have learned from reading this book, and some of them I feel like I have known all along but reading them in a book about starting a professional journey in student affairs just brought their importance to mind. The biggest one for me in this sense, was a common thread throughout the book: starting with yourself. I have a history of overlooking this little detail, so I appreciated that it was brought up in different chapters. I already knew self care was important since I have heard it before but reading about how it’s important for different things made me want to take a harder look at myself and actually do it. With assessments for example, it is important to assess your own work and progress. I have not done a very good job at this in the past, but as I said before, it has now been brought to mind and I will try harder to improve at this. Another common thread in the book that similarly was something I knew, but it’s been made present is relying on other people. This is something that I also have not been very good at in the past, but I realize its importance. Making connections is crucial for many aspects of our journey, from having someone that can help us navigate the career or a new environment to just having someone who can be there when you need to talk. This is the most challenging for me, being vulnerable enough to lean on others for support and trust that they will not let me fall. I recognize however, it is even more challenging and maybe not even possible to go through this journey alone and that requires some vulnerability from my part.
Perhaps the most interesting thing that I learned by reading this book was to begin thinking about each institution and even departments as their own culture. I found myself thinking more and more about this, and even though it may not be the exactly the same as immersing oneself in a new culture there are some similarities that come to mind. For example the different terminology in the two institutions I have been a part of can be compared to the different slang terms I had to learn when I first came to America. Having this lens of looking at each institution as a new culture will have certain advantages as I will be able to apply similar methods of absorbing each new culture, and more than anything it will be interesting to see how each culture is unique.
All in all this book has been a great way to get started with this year of readings. It seems like the perfect book to always have at your bedside and revisit as time goes by, I feel like it is kind of like a journal that you did not write but it has some sense of familiarity to it, it seems like something future you wrote and sent back in time for you.
P.S: Please enjoy my (poor) first attempt at a haiku in the beginning, I think I will be writing one for each post!
Growing up I had a knack for being usually well liked in my elementary school classrooms. I would blurt out random phrases, get a laugh and so on. My mum would call it charisma, I called it just being so uneven headed. I remember in Ms. Riveras 2nd grade class she announced that we would be electing a class president for the day in contribution to the ongoing U.S. election during that time. I won by a landslide, and while my goal of building a roller coaster for the school was immediately shot down, I was able to give out jelly beans to my classmates that engaged in good behavior. See, the thing is that while this small role seemed so unimportant in my development, it actually has inspired me much more looking back now. I would look on the tv and they would show the occasional video clip of a couple scraggly senators in navy suits and striped ties talk about “the economy”. Did I forget to mention they were white? While I knew I wanted to be in the government one day, there was something about who I was that seemed as a barrier to me accomplishing that goal. While hard to understand then, (Disclaimer: I don’t want to become a politician now) it was hard to see myself in this role mainly because no one who looked like me was in that role. I thought only “white men” lead and it was because of the treacherous path like systemic oppression that leads someone to feel inadequate.
While reading, it often focused on the parallel between both anglo-american cultures and what we know as historically underserved collectivist cultures. My favorite. Well, my favorite until Aunt Caro decides she needs to budge in for dinner uninvited and you have to spare your second servings. Collectivism is fun and all but presents challenges that I believe are truly generational. It talks about hospitality being big amongst Latinos and a sense of hope being something that drives them. Well it’s certainly changing. I was casually reading last week and it mentioned that when Latinos have immigrated to the U.S. their grandkids feel a lot less connected to their Latino roots meaning one loses their sense of Latinizmo. Scary. Scary because we’re caught in fighting worlds. An american world focused on “me, me, me” and a collectivist culture focused on “we, we, we”. You’ll see in my family we’re more reserved and to ourselves even though it’s expected we hug everyone we meet and say “mi casa es tu casa”. Contradictory to the cultural norms but it has become my norm regardless. It’s changing and I think it’ll continue to change and generations develop. These things that were once valued will morph into something else and will consequently turn into a faint memory.
Anyways, I feel like I’m ranting. Oh wait, I am. I screenshotted a specific picture on my phone and sent it to my family…they agreed. The book noted that some Latinos want things done immediately, no room to waste time. Also that we didn’t want to do things on a comfortable schedule. This is seen as pushy and emotional and not having good manners. While originally I was like, “this book can’t dictate my life”, this is very much true. I hate wasting time, and being slow with many things. It infuriates me but I acknowledge it’s something I need to work on. I’m not pushy because I want to overthrow someones authority, I’m pushy because I care so much about the cause I’m advocating for and want to make sure we’re moving along towards a solution. If you’re passionate about it, why do it in the first place.
While general I appreciate this book for reinforcing what it means to be a leader from a multicultural aspect. Dear white people, you can be leaders too but so can us black, American indian, and latino leaders as well. Hey the world is changing, meaning we also got to change with the times too.
When we were handed the book, Leadership and Self Deception we were given a very cautious warning. “This book can be very dangerous” was said over and over again. To an extent I thought I was going to read something regarding “why you should run away from student affairs” or a “you thought you were a great leader?…… SIKE”. Frankly that was a slightly extra way of looking at it but I think overall the book dove deeper into ourselves as “leaders” in everyday situations. Leaders are not only the people who drive a team to success or get their work done way before the deadline but someone who is constantly thinking about the future and where to go next.
How many times has it been shoved down our throats that “oh you’re such a great leader!” and felt like a boost in our ego has incurred. We held our heads high and walked in triumph. Why? Well because it’s well deserved. I think that’s the real danger in leadership, it’s constantly telling people they’re awesome, and while they might be sometimes it can go a little way too into their heads. The feeling of invincibility is sure to be felt and no feat is even a feat to begin with. This get’s complicated real quick….
The book touched on self deception; a term essentially used to justify us getting our way, no matter what. We all have a moral compass right? It seems that sometimes people use it more than others, and it’s harder to justify when people spill their beer on us at the baseball game or when someone cuts us off on the highway. Sometimes I’ve found myself in situations where I try to skew someone’s decision to fall into my ideal situation, it would make things 100% easier if the person just agreed with us. When they don’t, we get upset when it doesn’t go our way. Yet we’re the only ones aware of this. Why are we upset? Is it because we thought we had the almighty answer and someone didn’t agree. We got to let go of our pride because what’s it worth to always be upset that things didn’t go our way.
Collusion also spoke to me. Over my years of working I’ve encountered people who’ve I’ve adored working with and some who I dreaded seeing every so often. When a person crosses us in a negative light, we see them as the worst person possible. Everything they do is terrible, and the misconception of “they’re probably just as terrible everywhere else too”. So at this point we hold a deep negative perception of this person and we use everything they do or say against them to fit in our perception of being a bad person. If they did something that wasn’t questionable or even out of bounds, we have a tendency to find reasons that don’t exist to back up this behavior.
Overall at the end of the day, we all got to realize we’re just another human on an earth filled with a lot of other complex humans and seeing them as so. Putting ourselves in a humbling sense of self is crucial before we implode down a hole of “What ifs” and “this person is just trying to get at me”. Chill.
Throughout my undergrad, I had multiple opportunities to sit in on interviews for different professional positions on campus. After reading this book, I feel a little naive because I did not fully realize what went into selecting a university to work at. I have had quite a few friends apply for different jobs but not once did I ever have a conversation with them regarding the type of university or college it was. What I gathered from these soon to be Student Affairs professionals was that finding a job was extremely hard so they would take what they got. I find myself questioning that thought process and wanting to challenge myself by digging deeper into the schools history and what their mission and vision are.
After reading through the chapters, I would stray away from working at a Religiously Affiliated Institution. I attended a private school my whole life until I went to college, so the fact that this schools are religion based is not the main reason why I would not want to work at a religiously affiliated institution. Before reading this book, I had my personal reasons as to why I would not want to work at that type of institute, which includes but not limited to the lack of bureaucracy. A past advisor of mine had switched to a private university and ended up returning back to my alma mater because of the lack of control and rules. She specifically was working with their Greek Life and found the students had lack of respect for her role as an advisor. That was her personal experience but the book gives another great example of this lack of bureaucracy.
“…I have come from a public institution into a private institution. The public institution hat I came from was very highly bureaucratic, which was extreme. This one seeme to be at the opposite extreme because we are so decentralized and sometimes I think there has got to be balance in everything. So there is not a lot od red tape but that causes confusion sometimes because there are no rules.”
I think that if after I pursue my masters in Student Affairs and Higher Education I would be open to a couple options regarding the type of university I would work for. I think people don’t give Community Colleges enough recognition and the book does a good job of describing what they are: The Producers. I think that no only refers to their students but also the professional staff. I found it disappointing that those who work at Community College mentioned that there was a stereotype that they were viewed as second-class citizen education. Another comment was made that “… universities are in the limelight. It’s more prestigious to be at a university opposed to a community college.” What I found intriguing and interesting was that professionals from Community Colleges said they were very student service focused. I also liked the idea of working with a wide population. One professional said “I have two types of clients. One is the 18-22 year old, out of high school, needing a little help in making choice as far as their major and colleges nad professional areas. The other type is the 25-85 year old adult. They really need to know how to work or at least begin to develop some knowledge of working…” I think this type of college would be a unique experience and a challenge in itself because I wouldn’t be working with the normal student.
The Comprehensive Colleges and Universities are what really stood out to me. One reason being because they consider themselves to by a hybrid: they mix the traditional focus of liberal arts education with the research focus of a campus that offers graduate education. Professionals at comprehensive institutions serve specific functions but the nature of the campus enables them to work extensively in other functional areas thereby requiring them to view issues from a multitude of perspectives. One of the mission statements was described as general but what I found amazing was that the campus offers liberal arts and professional training; it serves day students, evening students, full-time students, part-time students, those from groups who have always pursued higher education and those from groups who have not. Comprehensive colleges and universities provide a solid liberal education at the undergraduate level and also offer advanced professional degrees. From a professional point of view, I appreciated the fact that there are these separate offices with specific focuses but that doesn’t hold professional staff back from getting involved and delving deeper in a different office. The opportunity to learn and network at the university is something I value.
There were many parts of this book that caught my attention and made me reflect on my past but also on the future. The first couple of pages in Beginning Your Journey took me back to my undergrad days, specifically my sophomore and junior year. I changed my major a total of four times before truly realizing what I want to do with my life. “New professionals are pleasantly surprised to find that the experiences they loved as undergraduates can be turned into a full-time job.” Once I got involved with different organizations, I had the opportunity to work with people who sparked an interest in Student Affairs. Watching current Student Affairs professionals showed me the passion and desire behind the jobs that they did. The struggle of students in college that was mentioned at the beginning of the book also stood out to me. I know that my college career had struggles but it was also a pivotal chapter in my life. If it wasn’t for the SA professionals who pushed me and guided me, I wouldn’t be where I am today. After my experience with these SA professionals, I realized that I wanted to work future college students to help them through their struggle, help them find their passion in life and be that guidance that I received that made my experience amazing.
The Assessment chapter really stood out to me when I was skimming through the book. In our world today, the SA isn’t always seen as important as academic part of college. Assessment is important for my many reasons; one being that it helps with the student’s growth. As we prepared for the SLC Retreat, I was struggling on how we would be able to see student grow through assessment. It is natural to watch students and understand where they started out and then explain how they have grown since the beginning. When the PAs worked on the assessment, I was hoping that it would actually give us some answers based on the growth at the student life center retreat. I hope the PAs can sit down soon to look through the pre and post. Assessment can also be used to help student leaders grow through allowing them to analyze assessment results. This skill allows them to help make decisions, which allows the student leader to gain a deeper meaning and purpose to what the organization and staff want to accomplish. The strategic plan part of the book stood out to me due to my newly acquired knowledge through the AS&F plan. I appreciate the time and effort that was also put into the ASU 2020 plan because it sets a great guideline for the faculty and staff on campus
Beginning your Journey: A Guide for New Professionals in Student Affairs tackles the current issues that faculty face as they enter the profession. It acts a s a great guide for students who are transitioning into the work force. The personal stories that were included made it easier to connect with the topic and apply it to my everyday life.