Balance Through Personal Leadership
Congressman Marsha Blackburn, Phi Delta chapter initiate at Mississippi State University, shares the techniques she uses to balance her work on Capitol Hill with the priorities of her family life.
Jillian DeCamp, Alpha Kappa
chapter initiate at North Carolina State Univeristy shares how Marsha Blackburn's
book, Life Equity
, changed her life.
Congressman Marsha Blackburn embodies the true meaning of being a Chi Omega Sister. She lives the Symphony every day. Congressman Blackburn was one of the reasons I joined the Chi Omega (Alpha Kappa Chapter) my freshman year at NC State University. She is a strong woman who through her abilities has impacted this country and world positively. Congressman Blackburn has recently written a book, Life Equity, that will inspire many women to take the steps to accomplish their goals and dreams. The book discusses different qualities women learn throughout our lives that can be presented in ways to market oneself to an employer or whatever endeavor she chooses. Although the book mainly discusses parenting experiences or other skills dealing with later life experiences, skills learned while being an undergraduate can also be applied to this concept.
Sometimes those outside of the Greek community do not understand the skills we acquire as Greeks. We must learn to balance our schedules while holding ourselves to a higher standard with grades and other activities. We also learn valuable skills in leadership and the importance of serving others through community service and mentoring younger Sisters.
Take, for example, being a Cardinal Cabinet member. You had to give presentations to the chapter, keep a balanced budget, plan events, make timelines and stick to them. Being T-shirt chair, for example, you work with a company to ensure we get the correct product, a good-quality product ,and learn to deal with the mishaps that inevitably occur (such as Sisters not paying on time, T-shirts not printed correctly, etc). Positions such as treasurer, president, and other high-level positions will be even more benefitial. When I was treasurer, I had to shrink a budget almost in half. That took a lot of time, effort, and thought. I also had to balance our bank account and keep records of everything for tax purposes and make sure that those who followed as Treasurer would be able to understand my system. Organization skills, professional skills, and maturity were all requirements for these positions.
Marsha's book also addresses the ways in which women hold themselves back. There are certain qualities that women typically possess that make us great leaders and team players, but we must understand that although these qualities are good, we must not allow them to interfere with or inhibit our success. Congressman Blackburn is a prime example of a great leader who had things to overcome to accomplish her goal. In her book she discusses being an incredible mother and successful business owner prior to her current role as a US Congressman. She discusses how the skills she learned in those previous experiences prepared her for her role as a congressman. She had to overcome people asking her, “How does being a mother qualify you for the US Congress?” She knew that she possessed the skills to lead others because of her accomplishments with and dedication to her family and business. She won her election by proving her transferrable life equity.
When I read Congressman Blackburn’s book I'd graduated a year and a half prior and was debating on going to law school. I was comfortable in my life and my job. I was stagnant by choice. I didn’t want to move forward because there was too much risk involved. I was paralyzed. I decided one night sitting at home on the couch with my dog to read a chapter or two in Congressman Blackburn’s book. Several hours later I had finished the entire thing! I couldn’t put it down. She was right! What was I afraid of? I had been completely on my own financially and otherwise and living by myself for more than a year and was doing just fine. I had been promoted to North Carolina’s political director for the Republican Party at age 22! Why couldn’t I accomplish anything I put my mind to?
That is in fact why I joined Chi Omega; “to work earnestly, to speak kindly, to act sincerely, to choose thoughtfully that course which occasion and conscience demand.” I was a woman, on my own, and succeeding; “to be womanly always; to be discouraged NEVER.” The next day I completed and submitted six law-school applications. As of today, I have heard back from one, and I got in! I am waiting on the others, but have already met with a financial advisor and loan specialist to ensure my goal can and WILL BE reached. I owe this to Congressman Blackburn’s words of encouragement.
I am not the first to be scared to take the leap of faith and I will not be the last to take that leap. I am among many determined, driven, and strong women and most of them are Chi Omegas. The journey will be tough and challenging, but I know I am up to it. With support from Sisters across the nation, we can accomplish anything. One of the most memorable quotes from the book is “Improvise, adapt and overcome.”
I recommend this book, Life Equity by Congressman Marsha Blackburn, to women of all ages and walks of life. Whatever your dream, goal or aspiration, you can accomplish it if you take the leap of faith.