How To Know Your Time As A Student Leader Is DONE!

This article is dedicated to a good friend of mine who recently faced this dilemma and came to a great conclusion. I wish him all the best with another season as Drum Major of his college marching band!

Stick a fork in it... You're done!!

You’ve probably been there…

“Should I do another term as [insert any student leader title here]?”

If you haven’t had to face that question yet, lucky you! It’s probably one of the most difficult internal dilemmas for any student leader. You’ve loved your time as a section leader, club officer, or all-around Music Department Demigod. You made positive contributions to your band, and you’re building a stronger band program than the one you found; but unless you’re a miracle worker, you still have stuff left on that to-do list.

How do you know if it’s the right time for you to take your group to new heights or time to step aside and allow the group to continue on their own? Solving this dilemma will take time, and it shouldn’t be taken lightly. Ask your friends, your detractors, your director, and anyone else you feel like for their opinion, but remember that you must be happy with your decision. Focus on the questions below and you will have an easier time making sense of it all.

Have you inspired anyone to take your place?

I sincerely hope the answer to this question is yes. As a leader, one of your responsibilities is to encourage others to follow in your footsteps. Is there anyone who feels led to take over after you? You certainly don’t want to abandon ship and leave your group leaderless. On the other hand, if someone is ready to take the reins, perhaps its your turn to bow out gracefully.

 Do you have new ideas?

If you are pursuing another term as student leader because things are already awesome and you want to keep them that way… you should probably wake up and smell the turf. No group is perfect and I’m sure the needs of your marching band, section, club, or ensemble have changed some since you started leading. If you don’t have any new ideas to carry out, you’ll be leading your group into stagnation and apathy–a rut that can take years to get out of.

Are you making excuses to stay?

It’s time to be honest with yourself. Change is hard, really hard. It’s okay to be uncertain about your future, but don’t let that keep you where you are today. Life is about growing and taking on new opportunities to develop. Staying in one place because you are comfortable there will only hinder you in the long-run.

Is another term in this position beneficial to your group? Be objective.

Set the past aside and consider whether you can confidently make marked improvements in your group. Are you truly suited to serve their needs in the same capacity you have been? Will the group be better off with you in a different role? Is there someone else who can bring new energy and ideas to the group through the position you held? It can be very difficult to be honest with ourselves with this question. Our ego wants to answer immediately with “Of course, I’m the best person suited to lead! I just did it for a year and this group wouldn’t be where it is without me!” Keep your pride in check, and be real. Are you really the best person for the job or do you just wish you were?

Get a little selfish. Is another term in this position beneficial to you?

Have you been sleeping well? Does leading this group drain your energy? Are you personally stagnating? Have your passions and goals evolved? Does another term in this position help you reach your goals? If being in the position is detrimental, don’t do it. Seriously. There is always another option. Don’t put your health, academics, or career goals, etc. at risk because you feel obligated to continue leading. Find a place where you can serve the group without compromising yourself, if it’s possible. If not, learn to say no.

Finally, I did not include “Do you feel like you’ve accomplished everything you wanted?” in this list. You will never accomplish everything you want. In fact, perhaps you didn’t succeed in this role. THAT’S OKAY. Failure is not a reason to ask for a do-over. The important thing is to not let your failures become regrets. Accept what happened, learn from it, and use those lessons to propel you forward. You can always look back to this time when you’re rich and famous and say, “Man, am I glad that blog article told me to not regret my failures. Look at where I am now! Perhaps I should look the author up and send him two tickets to Jamaica for an all-expense paid vacation. My treat!” (Come on! I can hope, right?)

When is the last time you faced this decision? How did you handle it? What else did you consider that we didn’t include here?

If you decide to move on to greater things, I urge you to Take the has-been high road (an article by one of my favorite college speakers, T.J. Sullivan).