Internal Leadership

Hello everybody!

We are already at week six – I cannot believe it. My time here in Madrid is flying by, and I am truly enjoying every single moment of it. My internship and my experiences abroad have taught me so much not only about the Spaniards and European culture, but also about myself. This week we are supposed to speak about leadership: something that has come to me naturally throughout my life, but my time abroad has really shifted what the word leadership means to me and the role it has taken in my life.

Growing up, I was always very involved in teams, clubs, and extra cirriculars. My parents, being immigrants to the U.S from México, are extremely driven, proactive, and strong-headed people, and taught me to be the same. They wanted me to have knowledge across many distinct subjects – whether it be sports, academics, charities, etc… I was in the organization until I begged my parents to let me quit (which, of course, just meant that they were about to sign me up for something else).

The organizations that held the most importance in my childhood/adolescence were my dance academy, my high school’s dance team and hip hop team, my underclassmen mentoring program, Make-a-Wish, and a charity club called Kids Helping Kids. With my time being constantly occupied by very different things, I grew up with a great range of people with extremely different interests, which I am very thankful for. This expanded my horizons beyond my own interests and really taught me to connect with people of all different backgrounds.

I actually participated in my high school’s Leadership Academy for five years and received a certificate in Leadership Skills and Team Building. Due to this, I have felt that in group settings, I sometimes tend to take the leadership role, regardless of the context. Within my teams and clubs, maybe because of my strong work-ethic or ability to connect with different types of people, my coaches/leaders typically looked to me to lead the group and help others throughout my team or group. I have also been told that my loud and outgoing personality makes my presence known in the room, which leads my teammates/clubmates to naturally look my way. And although I am flattered, this has always put a pressure on me to be a good role model for my peers and always act in character (which in turn, has been a great thing). Of course, as I got older throughout my organizations, my age and my knowledge contributed to the leadership roles I took, and forced me to be the best version of myself for my coaches and for my team.

Yet, I feel as though I never really did this for myself. As I said, I would put this pressure on my self to be great, but for the team/group’s sake. My motivation has always come from team rewards and making others happy – and I never felt that I was doing things for myself until my abroad experience. Here in Madrid, I am not part of a team, or an organization, and all my little victories are, and only can be, for myself. The definition of the word leadership has entirely shifted for me – now, I understand it also means taking ownership of my own actions and showing up for myself to reach my goals. Within my internship, I am a complete outsider and am obviously not taking leadership roles throughout the company. So when it comes to my tasks (and the somewhat unstructured nature of the work environment), it is my responsibility to organize myself and my days to make sure the product of my work is ready by its due date. Many of my daily tasks are left a bit ambiguous, and I am expected to figure things out on my own and still present it how my boss intends it to be. This can be a bit difficult at times, but these type of challenges is what ultimately leads to growth.

This type of self-leadership, and taking the reins of my own life works hand-in-hand to the leadership I described above (team and group settings). When a leader is not only motivated for the teams, but knows exactly what internal steps they need to individually take, the team only benefits more. I think this new type of mindset and view on leadership will really come in handy as I approach my senior year on the dance team, and obviously the rest of my life. I am happy to say that both my professional and personal experiences here in Madrid have taught me that leadership and drive to be great is not only about making others proud, but making myself proud as well.

Hasta la siguente,

Jesse 🙂

PS. Below are some photos from my trip to see my family in Berlin, Germany.