Jared Felkins: Leadership Wilson all about listening, learning, doing

“There’s not a whole lot to it,” I told myself as I put my phone in my pocket, trying my best not to look at it every five minutes.
Oct 4, 2013
Jared Felkins is The Democrat’s director of content. Email him at jfelkins@lebanondemocrat.com or follow him on Twitter @paperboyfelkins.
Members of the Leadership Wilson class of 2014 include Nancy Ash, Heather Bay, Toni Burton, Matt Caldwell, Lisa Chaney, Gregg Clark, Leonora Collons, Allen Craig, Deb Daugherty, Jared Felkins, Stephanie Gray, Medana Hemontolor, Kristin Howard, Ray Hubner, Jeff Joines, Angel Kane, Chad Karl, Trey Marshall, Beau Massengill, Mallory Maxwell, Wilson McCoy, Denise McMillen, Joy Moran, Adrian Muniz, Tina Presley, Sean Rabe, Rusty Richardson, Kim Schick, Gary Soloway, Tanisha Truss, Phyllis Web and Pam Wiggins.

“People ask the difference between a leader and a boss. The leader leads, and the boss drives.”

— Theodore Roosevelt

Editor’s Note: The following is the first in an ongoing series of columns designed to take an in-depth look into Leadership Wilson as The Democrat’s director of content becomes a member of the class of 2014.

“There’s not a whole lot to it,” I told myself as I put my phone in my pocket, trying my best not to look at it every five minutes.

Most people who’ve been around me for more than an hour at a time know I don’t like to be disconnected. I’m pretty much plugged in constantly from the moment my eyes open in the morning until my head hits the pillow at night.

As a softball coach, I’m fortunate not to have taken one already to the head – or worse places – while sneaking a quick glance at my email when my responsibilities should lie on the foul side of third base.

And while I’m at it, I might as well confess a few sins. An overwhelming feeling of guilt falls over me when I occasionally flip from my Bible app to check a text message during church on my iPad.

I admit it. I’m obsessed. I place half the blame on the profession I chose, another third on my attention deficit disorder and the last third on unbridled curiosity.

So when the Leadership Wilson retreat date rolled around, it was all I could do not to grab that phone every time it vibrated. And it buzzed a lot during those 48 hours.

Just as that man named Murphy made up that idiotic law, something that needs my attention enviably happens when I can do absolutely nothing about it.

My go-to excuse is always that I’m trying to help the rest of my team out from afar when I forward them emails or send text message about something that pops into my head we should be doing any given moment. I’m beginning to wonder just how much they hate that.

So as I was trying to ignore the 800-pound gorilla iPhone in my pocket during my first encounter with my fellow classmates in Leadership Wilson recently on a retreat to Montesano, some of the stuff being said actually started to make sense.

You see, there was this exercise that characterizes one’s leadership traits and put us into color categories. Since Leadership Wilson paid good money for Lucy Lee to come in and present it, I won’t reveal too much. But let’s just say my chief trait was more on the emotional side.

I learned a lot about myself during that exercise, but more importantly, I learned how to pick out those leadership characteristics in other people and started developing plans on how to best interact with each accordingly.

There were other activities to help with name retention and hone team skills. There were also extra-curricular activities that involved ringing a big bell and an impromptu meeting with Earnest the groundskeeper, but I’m not going into too much detail on that.

Let’s just say I learned a lot on that retreat last week, and I left it encouraged to learn and do more. It certainly was a 180 from the attitude I had when I arrived.

On Wednesday, the class had its first “field trip,” which felt right at home to me. We had agriculture day.

A handful of us got to feed bottles of milk to calves, make flower arrangements and extract honey from hives. I have little doubt all of us learned something. I grew up on a small Angus farm in central Alabama, so the day was like a big old trip down memory lane for me.

From that experience, it gives me an even heightened appreciation for where food comes from, and it’s not too far down the road, either.

Though we’ve only had two outings so far, Leadership Wilson has left me both exhausted and always looking forward to the next trip each time.

I encourage you to check out the Leadership Wilson program if you haven’t already. If the rest of the journey is as well planned and executed as these first two experiences, we are all destined to be better leaders when we cross the finish line.

Cheers to my classmates. I can’t wait to see you all again soon.

Jared Felkins is The Democrat’s director of content. Email him at jfelkins@lebanondemocrat.com or follow him on Twitter @paperboyfelkins. 


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