Leadership Circle

I’m blessed my job allows me great opportunities like attending last week’s Leading Women event. (Thanks Christian City and Fayette Chamber for making it possible!) These events put women together in an atmosphere designed to inspire, encourage, challenge and lift each other up.

Right out of the gate, we had a moment of reflection. We were asked, “If you could make a special toast to any woman in your life, who would it be and why?”

Almost everyone thought of their mother. That relationship is so important. The overwhelming thought shared over and over was our mothers always believed in us and encouraged us to do anything we wanted. That belief pushed many of us to dream big and make bold choices. It gave us courage to face obstacles, brush off failure, and carry on.

I kept thinking about other women in my life who have been encouragers and sounding boards long after the conference closed. I can’t begin to list all of my teachers who have helped shape me and my career. My fifth grade English teacher, Barbara Ann Guyhto, should get a lot of credit for igniting my passion for creative writing. Then there was my Probe teacher who encouraged us to submit our creative work in contests and I got my first $15 paycheck from a story called “The Case of the Missing Sneakers.” I had so many influences before I even hit high school.

Throw in spiritual leaders, family, friends, college professors, career colleagues, and numerous other women I have had the privilege of learning from along the way, and the list of influencers, guides, and challengers I’ve encountered could fill up a notebook. Each one, unique in their own way, and helped me craft a part of me.

I had the privilege to work with college women for over 14 years. It was my turn to give back. To dish out some of the encouragement I’d stored up and help someone else see they were enough to accomplish whatever their story held. It was my time to wipe tears and gently push someone to try one more time. We celebrated wins together and plotted out ways to defeat obstacles. The really cool thing is that I learned from them too. They kept me up on the latest social apps and dances (thankfully no videos exist!) They kept me energized. They shared insights and we had great conversations about life topics that matter. I learned to listen.

The thought I ended on was the importance of the circle. To soak up and embrace encouragement and advice when it is offered, but never forget we are filled up so we can share with someone else when they need it. We must be able to move past the need to compete with each other and instead celebrate the successes together. We must build each other up and not tear each other down. We are really better together than alone.

I’m going to end this post with a challenge for you. Think about the women who have impacted your life. What did they share? How did they encourage? What was their message? Make a list. Now think about your friends, the young women in your Sunday School class, the new co-workers, or the young mom you sit next to at your kids ball practice. How can you keep that circle alive. What can you share? How can you be that encourager for them?

If you feel like it, leave me a comment about the women who inspire, motivate and encourage you. Want some tips on how to be a great mentor or mentee? Check out this blog post.

Study Strategies and Test Taking Tips

test taking and study skills

Finals are almost here.

Finding the time to study is key. Take some time to analyze how you are spending your time. Be truthful. Include the time you hang out at the fraternity house, your chapter meetings, and meeting friends to go eat. Once you’ve tracked your time, make a schedule that includes everything you need to accomplish. Put in class time, meetings, and some fun. Then go ahead and write in your study time. Make it a firm appointment.chick clique

Now that you have the time to study, pick the most boring or difficult item first. I know it’s tempting to put it off, but I promise you, it’s better if you go ahead and knock it out at the beginning. Use “waiting time” for some extra study time. While you are waiting for your clothes to dry, pick up your notes and read through them again.

Avoid cramming for tests. Cramming leads to anxiety. Anxiety leads less ability to remember things. Cramming keeps you from doing your best.

The rule of thumb is that you should spend 2 hours studying for every 1 hour you are in class. I know – you’re yelling at the screen right now. But it’s true.

Set your environment. Make your study area comfortable, but not comfortable enough you fall asleep. Make sure it’s quiet. Don’t invite others over during your study time. If you have group projects or study groups, do that in addition to your time.

Now that you’ve studied, it’s time for the exam.

test tips

If you have a multiple choice, true/false or matching test, go ahead and answer all the questions. It doesn’t make sense to leave any blank. You might get lucky. On true/false, remember if any part of the question is false, the answer is false.

Look for answers in other questions.

Don’t change your answers. Remember your first instincts are usually right.

Mark questions you can’t answer as you are going through. This will save you time at the end. Once you’ve answered all you know, you can go back and easily find the ones you need to spend more time on.

Make sure you answer the question asked. Read the questions thoroughly.

In an essay exam, make sure you understand what you are answering. Take the directions to heart. If it says compare, compare. If it says discuss, do that. If it says outline, use that format. Get to the point quickly. Don’t try to fill it with fluff.

Use the holidays to recharge

use the holidays to recharge

Finals are over. You’ve cleaned out the dorm room. The goodbyes have been said. It’s Christmas break. Fall semester is over. You’ve survived. chickclique

Emotions run high this time of year. Pile on the excitement of Christmas and the stress of finals and moving back home, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. With a little planning, you can use this break to come back ready for a successful semester.

Catch up with family and friends. Homesickness is real. It doesn’t mean you are weak. It means you are human. Now’s the time to reconnect. Spend time with those who matter to you. When you get back on campus, remember to schedule time for family. Pick a time each week for a call home. Facetime so they can see you are doing good. It’s not like being there and eating mom’s cooking, but it’s a great way to get through until the next trip home. Besides, it gives your parents peace of mind to. Remember, they miss you too.

Catch up on some sleep while you are home. Between cramming sessions and late-night fraternity events, we all know you aren’t sleeping like you should. Use this time at home to give your body a break and the rest it needs.

Get a part time job. There are so many businesses offering seasonal work. This is a great chance to make some extra money to stash away for the unexpected opportunities that might come up during the spring semester. If you can find one that relates to your major that’s even better.

Prepare for the next semester. Treat yourself to some little things like new school supplies, a new planner and desk accessories.  Get a head start on required reading. Most professors will have the syllabus up for their classes. Use this time to get ahead. Make sure your financial aid is in place before you leave campus so that you aren’t coming back to an unwanted surprise.

Before you pack the car for your trip home, make sure your housing is firmed up.  If you will you be changing dorms, roommates, or making changes to your apartment lease, get all of this done before you leave. There’s nothing worse than arriving on campus and finding out you don’t have a place to sleep.