For many a college, “Declaration Day” has become a tradition when prospective students indicate their plans to attend that institution. At Nichols for the past three years, another declaration day has taken place every fall for students to extend their college education into the important realm of leadership.
On these occasions, a self-selected set of sophomores takes the first step into our Emerging Leaders Program (ELP), designed to increase and nurture their leadership skills and potential—through internships, part-time jobs on campus, academic projects, educational trips, and a host of other activities.
Any opportunity that stretches you outside your comfort zone or exposes you to something new—whether ideas or experiences—helps build confidence and begins to develop a strong foundation for leadership and life.
I made a brief speech about my personal definition of leadership, which I emphasized is more than an individual achievement. Since it was football Sunday, I used some football analogies.
In Super Bowl XXXVI in 2002, I recalled, the starting lineup for the favored St. Louis Rams came onto the field one at a time as they were introduced. When it came time for the underdog Patriots to appear, the stadium announcer said, “Choosing to be introduced as a team…”
That was the first time any Super Bowl team had taken the field in this way. I told the group, “I remember thinking, ‘The Patriots are going to win this,’ in large part due to the “team first” attitude.
They did. I have great confidence that those Nichols students in ELP can follow their example.