This past week I have been doing my best to explore as much of Berlin as I possibly can. It has been an interesting experience because I lost my iPhone on the bus on Tuesday and have been without a phone since then. In an interesting way, this has led to me being more outgoing on an individual level. I have been exploring more and just wandering around without any destination, talking to people and meeting new friends. The situation has brought a constant feeling of being present in a new environment which I have found beneficial in many ways. For example, after work I was walking around the neighborhood of Kreuzberg and ran into a group of Americans in the park after asking them for directions. We all hung out for a few hours which would definitely not have happened if I had my phone and was able to look at google maps in a split second. This theme of being present has continued up until this point, and even when I get a new phone I will continue to bring this sort of spirit to every circumstance. Besides this highlight, my internship tasks consisted of hanging up flyers around the neighborhood in which my company works within. It led to a lot of good calorie burning on top of quality interactions with the community. It has been met with many positive reactions, as well as the all too common negative one. That being said, it has taught me to not care as much about how people react to a good cause, and to simply roll with the punches.
In terms of leadership skills before my internship, I feel like I have always been a strong voice within a crowd. Whether it has been sports teams or classroom activities, I have always done my best to step up when no one else has wanted to. For example, as the captain of my soccer team, I did my best to convey the voices of those who were not as outspoken in order to get all opinions through to our coach. It has always been important for me to step up within a large group, and I feel like that has continued up until today. That being said, my internship has challenged my approach to leadership in an interesting way that I did not expect. Before the internship, I thought I was going to be consistently working alongside others within my initiative to complete certain tasks which has been a typical dynamic of my past jobs. This has not been the case so far in any way, and it has actually been the opposite. I have stepped up my leadership skills in terms of leading myself, because there is no one around me to tell me when to get something finished. So in a way, it has changed my thinking on leadership as a whole. Before this experience I always saw leadership as a collective concept; There are a few people at the top that are dictating or guiding the actions of others. This preconception of leadership changed as I started to learn that true leadership is the ability to lead oneself when there is no one to tell you what to do.
Although I do have a supervisor who keeps track of my progress, he is not consistently asking for updates on my work. He has observed and now understands that I will carry out the tasks he gives to the best of my ability, which motivates me to live up to this. He understands that I will learn to lead myself to complete what needs to be done, and if I do not then there will be criticism of that. This sort of leadership is more important than any other. I feel as though leading a group of people may take some confidence, but there is also the gratification of being able to lead and have others take you as an example. It’s almost like this sort of collective leadership can be self-centered at times, at least in my experience. The leadership of oneself is self-centered, but in a way that does not give gratification of an outside group. The positive gratification that comes with it only comes through self assurance that the work being done is done properly, and one does not need anyone else to say otherwise. This internship has brought me peace of mind knowing that I know exactly when something is “good enough” and understand when my work will fall short of the expectations. Learning this new type of leadership comes from being independent and away from groupthink or external support. It is leadership within, opposed to leadership of outside factors.