The best decision I made in my high school career was to step out of my comfort zone by running for corresponding secretary of my school’s chapter of National Honor Society (NHS). As a shy sophomore who was terrified of speaking in front of crowds, this was a huge step for me. I remember a bunch of my friends saying, “Don’t run for the position, you don’t have a shot of winning against the upperclassmen.”
Least to say, I became corresponding secretary of NHS with a new group of friends.
Fast forward to my senior year and I was president of NHS. The shy sophomore who was told that she had “no chance,” was heading a club of over a hundred members. In my three years as an executive member for NHS, I learned a lot about leadership and even about myself. Here are some of the lessons I learned from being an officer for a club:
1. Patience is so important.
As an officer for a club, you need a lot of patience. At the crossover meeting between the old and new officers, the secretary before me told me, “People will ask you the same thing over and over again, make sure to be calm and patient.” I remember going home that day and shrugging her comment off because if I was clear with the information, I’ll be fine. Well, that wasn’t the case at all. I nearly ripped out my hair over the amount of questions I got over the same thing. Whether you are a secretary or a president, you’ll have to deal with several people who aren’t the best to deal with. It can range from members who don’t check the monthly calendars to even adults who aren’t paying attention to the clubs on campus. The same concept can be applied to real life: people will be annoying and you have to patient if you want things to work out perfectly.
2. You have to fight for what you believe in as well as the people you represent.
By assuming an officer role, you are making a promise to fight for the club’s well-being and the members. A fellow president, Meagan McDowell, stood up for her club when the principal took away the funding for her photography club to develop another club. Despite the obstacles that were in her way, she fought for her club and her members. Through my experience with NHS, I learned that not everything will go smoothly, but I'm responsible for the 100+ members so I have to stand up for them and nothing will get done if I don't fight for it.
3. You can’t tell people what to do, but you can inspire them.
The National Honor Society chapter at my school was more than just a club where all of the nerds united. NHS was centered around community service and helping others; however, when I became president, it was obvious that some members only participated in events to get their requirements out of the way. Some members really didn’t care about helping others but rather about the stole they get for graduation day. Knowing that I can’t make them genuinely help others, I encouraged members at every meeting to look past the requirements of NHS and focus on that warm feeling they would get inside by helping others. At the end of the year, members participated in several projects, such as feeding the homeless, despite having all of their hours complete. As a leader, it goes beyond giving people to-do lists. Leaders push those around them to become better versions of themselves.
4. You don’t need a title to be a leader.
Throughout my three years as NHS executive board member, I kept this saying close to my heart. My members inspired me on a daily basis with their dedication and determination to help others. Towards the end of my term as president, the whole club came together to help a member whose brother had been diagnosed with cancer. As a club, we raised money for him. Despite not having the label of an officer, every NHS member went above and beyond to help others. True leadership isn’t determined by a title but rather by your actions.
5. Everyone is equal.
At my first officer meeting as president, I told my executive members, “You aren’t any better than the members and I’m not any better than you. We all are equal and we all have a voice in NHS.” Often, people get swayed away with titles and believe they are better than the people they are representing. That bothers me on several levels. NHS taught me that every voice matters and that a simple title does not determine someone’s capabilities.
The lessons I learned from my short time in NHS will be with me for the rest of my life. As an officer, I was constantly pushed out of my comfort zone and actually had to be responsible for once in my life. Despite all of the stress and headaches NHS gave me, it was one of the best parts of high school.
Lead Image Credit: Uzma Jamil