Rites Of Passage: Future leaders need sound advice

Future student leader:

I write to you as the outgoing Black Student Association president. It's late February. That means election time for your organization is near, if the popularity/politically motivated process hasn't already begun.

Although the school year didn't go exactly as I had planned or hoped, as with any student organization, I still have a few things that could help you out for the next year. I thought it wise to leave words for you to keep in mind.

I remember this time of year: surveying what I wanted to do and who might be my opposition. I sized up what people wanted and what could be changed for the better, trying to synthesize a balance between appealing to desires and meeting needs.

One of the first things I did following elections was contact people who could help me. I remember one letter specifically and have kept it throughout my term. While addressed specifically to me in my role as president of the Black Student Association, there are things anyone aspiring to lead should keep in mind:

"Hotep Brother Aric: Congratulations on becoming President of the BSA? You are part of a proud and noble lineage of sacrifice in the interest of serving African peoples. I said congratulations with a question mark precisely because serving black folks is both a blessing and oftentimes an arduous and lonely undertaking. Remember not to take on too much, this critical understanding can determine your ultimate efficacy. Pick one or two things and do them well.

In Kemet (Ancient Egypt) they have what was known as the 10 initiatory principles of self mastery that the initiate had to master in order to be move from herbak (student) to hersetha (teacher). One of these was 'the ability to know the real from the unreal.' (If) you learn this one lesson and it will serve you well."

So as an elder shared information with me, I've passed it to you. Everything isn't going to play out as you had planned, but that's part of the beauty of working with people.

That human element will lead you to focus on different things at different times for the greater good of the organization. But don't be timid with responsibility or with change. Your peers elected you because they had faith you could do the job.

Write to Aric at ariclewis@hotmail.com


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