Look Forward, Not Back

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October 23, 2012 by aalanis3

I believe that acknowledging certain prejudices you hold of people will allow you to become the best leader you can be. We all have imperfections. Some of our prejudices come from personal experiences and others are engrained by our culture. When we are able to acknowledge our misjudgments, we are able to work around them and perform at the best of our ability. My dad once told me something I will never forget. He said, “If you know you have a problem, then it isn’t a problem.” When I listened to Jay’s speech during the TED conference, this kept playing in my head because it made me feel like we should all know that our prejudice creates limitations, but these are all surpassable. We must practice compassion and understanding in order to become a skillful leader that others can look up to. As they say, a leader leads by example. The best example we can give is to maintain an unbiased opinion of others.
During high school, I was the president of HOSA (Health Occupation Students of America). It was one of my duties as president to set up a program for my members to raise AIDS awareness for the month of April. When most people think about AIDS, they think about all of the negative connotations that come with this disease. I was not completely ignorant about this disease, yet I wasn’t as informed as I should have. I always thought that there was a certain type of people who are more likely to suffer from this disease. As I planned to create a program for awareness and fund raising for the disease, I found out that most prejudices I held were not true. I was able to meet a woman who is HIV positive, and she opened my eyes about this and many other STDs. She is an attractive business professional who contracted the disease from a long time boyfriend. As I learned her story, I was ashamed to ever have judged people with AIDs. As one of the head leaders of HOSA, I had to gather the members and help them understand that we were working for an important cause. If I would have never looked past my prejudice, we may have never been able to raise a good amount of money and the awareness for this disease. This was a learning experience that made me both a better leader and person.

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