Sunday, 18 December 2011

A TED Talk That Inspires Me

In this TED Talk, Charlie Todd discusses the flash mobs and impromptu stunts put off by Improv Everywhere, an organization he founded, which is dedicated to brightening peoples' days by zany and funny shared experiences. Charlie talks about how shared experiences alter the way we act and perceive things, and about the merit behind doing a flash mob. To his mind (and to mine), as long as you're having fun, it doesn't matter what you're doing! Charlie inspires me to live my life to its fullest, doing something that makes me feel happy.

Sunday, 4 December 2011

All About Me

My name is Patrick Butler and I am a leader.

I have always had an interest in leadership and volunteerism, and since an early age, I have been steadily involved in leadership activities and organizations, both in my community and at school. I believe that leadership skills are valuable in everything we do, and that in order to be successful, leadership and hard work are required.

My first leadership experiences probably occurred in sports. Playing a sport requires practice and physical fitness of course, but an important piece of any game is mental toughness and confidence. This is especially true in team sports, where the team is only as good as its weakest link. I play volleyball, and over the 5 years during which I have played the sport, I have realized how important leadership is in playing to the best of your ability. Leaders are required to keep the team focused, to encourage the team, and to speak out when something is wrong or someone isn’t pulling their weight. Without leadership, sports wouldn't be as magnetic or as exciting, because comebacks, high-light reels and surprise victories wouldn’t exist. Without leadership, how could you motivate a team to win in the first place?

After getting my first taste of leadership from sports, I became involved in school leadership groups such as Student Council and Leadership Team, as well as the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award, which encourages youth to become involved in volunteerism, leadership, and recreation. These groups really helped me realize my potential as a leader, and to become more involved in making a difference in my school and in my community. I have since become an active member of these organizations, and have been able to help organize and put off some great events. Recently, as a part of my school's Student Council, I conducted a Blood Donor Clinic, put off a Vow of Silence (an activity in support of those without freedom of speech), and am in the midst of planning my school’s annual Winter Carnival. Also, in September, as a representative of my school's Leadership Team, I took part in the Canadian Student Leadership Conference in Corner Brook.

Just like in sports and in school and community organizations, leadership qualities are important in music. I am a member of Shallaway – Newfoundland and Labrador Youth in Chorus, and this organization has helped me to develop and practice my leadership abilities just as much as anything else. Through the choir, I have developed a better ability to work with others and listen – very important leadership qualities. When singing in a choir,  just as much energy is expended on listening to those around you as is to singing (surprisingly enough) and I believe that practicing listening and teamwork in a choral setting has strengthened my capacity to listen and cooperate with others on a regular basis. Also, as a choir is more or less a team, we have to work out problems amongst ourselves and come together to sing to the best of our ability. My involvement with Shallaway has also presented me with some exciting opportunities for travel – something I am very passionate about. Through international touring, I have been able to visit France, Belgium, the Netherlands, China, Cuba, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Austria and each of these places has had an effect on me and helped me learn and grow. In traveling to each of these places, I have been able to compare my culture and life to that of others, and this has allowed me to develop greater understanding and empathy. Shallaway has without a doubt helped me to become a better leader and person.

Leadership is something which, to me, is not easily defined, but which is easily perceived. It is easy for me to pick out someone as being a leader, but difficult to explain exactly why or how. I believe leadership can be displayed in myriad forms, whether it be leading a revolution or simply setting an example for others to follow. Sometimes, leadership is simply a decision to do something the right way instead of the easy way. Being a leader has influenced me in many different ways, and it is something very important to me. Without leadership, my life certainly would not be the same.