eNews Guest Editor – Cheri Rainey

Walking into the Program Preview Party, I intended to say hello to the few people I knew and “slip out the door”. New to Tallahassee, I wanted to know more about Leadership Tallahassee (LT) and the exciting things I had heard and maybe one day, I might apply. No one could have known how attending that particular LT social event would change my life.

Fast forward to the LT Class 14 bus with a group of strangers for a weekend of SimSoc  (I was in the Red group), to a Pat Thomas Academy hostage negotiation to a law enforcement ride along to Arts and History Day at Goodwood, an exciting year of fun and learning unfolded during my LT Class 14 year. Most importantly, I fell in love with Tallahassee and connected with people who became life-long friends.

Before Class 14, I thought I had been actively involved in community service, even as a new comer to Tallahassee.   However, my life took on new meaning. My volunteer work expanded and there was much more learning and fun to come.

One of the most challenging and memorable events was chairing the Distinguished Leadership Awards banquet when George Langford was awarded the Life Time Leadership Award. I had the honor of asking Mr. Foster and his FAMU Marching 100 to give a surprise performance just as Mr. Langford was about to receive his award. To faces of delight and a standing ovation, the Marching 100 honored George Langford and rocked the University Club – literally!

For several years now, I have had the pleasure of providing the self-reflective, leadership assessment during a class day each year. Each class member completes a self assessment of their leadership strengths and behavioral awareness. During the class they share their newfound information with each other, which brings fun and new “ah-ha” moments. And, by the end of the class, they – and I – learn more about ourselves and life.  Once again, we all make new friends, who will forever be part of our lives.

Last Thursday during Class 31’s Personal Assessment and Government Day was just such a day. Along with Kim Smiley (LT 22), Class 31 Program Chair, I had the privilege to co-chair the day with Floyd Self (LT 20) and facilitate the leadership, self-reflection component.  We all laughed and learned together.   The afternoon focused on applying lessons learned in the morning to become involved in local government, either through running for public office, serving on a local advisory committee or advocating for a specific neighborhood improvement.  Committee members Jon Brown (LT 30), Mary Katharine Lawler (LT 28), Nancy Miller (LT 30), Rick Minor (LT 26), Eileen Self (LT 26) and Leslie Smith (LT 24) planned activities that included: lunch with elected officials; city/county staff briefing on available resources to assist in community problem-solving and hot-topic challenge projects for the class to use newly acquired skills and information.

Thank you to First Commerce Credit Union for sponsoring the day and to TCC at the Capitol for donating space for the class to meet.

LT Class 31 is an exciting and dynamic group of movers and shakers. Their interactions  and focus on prolific quality reminded me of Dan Rockwell’s 5 Favorite Leadership Pursuits and his tips for the journey:

  • Service. Those committed to bring value always find opportunity.
  • Development. Grow yourself and others. Develop as you serve. Don’t wait.
  • Curiosity. The future is created in the pursuit of what doesn’t exist.
  • Optimism. Believe hard work, adapting as you go, and persistence pay off.
  • Better. Perfection chokes. Better sets us free.

Tips for the journey:

  • Focus on what you’ve learned more than how you screwed up.
  • Control what you can control and let everything else go.
  • Chase rabbits once in a while.
  • Find team companions.
  • Think more about where you are going than where you have been.

I feel honored that I was a part of LT Class 31’s learning and leadership growth. Each year I say to myself, “This may be the best class ever!” And, once more, I am saying to myself, LT Class 31 may be the best class ever!”Dr. Cheri Rainey, LT Class 14

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