Now that’s a lofty question. I do not intend to give you the sole answer but I will use this blog to discuss a City Year leadership model called the Flame of Idealism. This model recognizes that to realize our transformational potential, we must strive to deepen our understanding between changing the outer world through service, and the inner world through leadership development.
Do: Outermost Flame
Do is the outermost level of the flame and addresses our efforts to take civic action through a 10 month commitment of full-time service working towards increasing the graduation rate.
You may think that this part of our leadership development is the easiest to work with, yet, this is certainly false. Impact through service is my passion, it motivates me to get to school every morning. Since City Year recruits corps members that are diverse in their upbringing, background, and experiences, it is crucial for all of us to be unified when it comes to what we do. Basic Training Academy was an extraordinary journey that contributed to such efforts by training us on socio-emotional learning and team collaboration.
Know: Middle Flame
Know is focused on our knowledge about the service we’re providing through competencies such as, communication, team collaboration and relationship development, which both challenge and guide our performance.
This is when it starts to get tricky. Everyone deals with feedback differently. This part of the flame can have a huge influence on the strength of the “Do” portion. If we do not take feedback personally and accept it as if it were Vitamin C strengthening our immune system, we can’t be very effective corps members. This part of the flame humbles us and reminds us that there is always room for improvement in our service.
Be: Innermost Flame
Be is the innermost level of the flame and reflects the reality that all our actions and knowledge is influenced by who we are as people.
This portion of the flame is linked to a guided reflection curriculum called The Idealist Journey (IJ). I will admit this freely, I was not a huge fan of IJ at the beginning of the year. Even until recently, I did not fully understand its purpose, but have slowly realized it is a source of rejuvenation and self-awareness. When we are in the trenches, deep in our service, we fail to take time to ourselves in order to appreciate our daily successes. IJ offers a chance to explore and reflect on our civic identity through meaning-making, leadership development and challenges/successes that comes along with a year of service.
Culture and Core Values This part of the model is symbolized by an image of a torch. The torch is the part we have the most exposure to and it is not a coincidence to see that Uniforms, PITW’s (little phrases and pieces of wisdom), and Founding Stories are linked to it.
The pride we take when we incorporate City Year culture and values into our schools, after-school programs, and interactions in daily life, exemplifies how we have control of our own progress as leaders. Overall, leadership development is a process that takes time, collaboration, and a strong work ethic. One’s progress as a leader is dependent upon numerous factors, especially one’s humility and ability to implement feedback toward growth. It is overwhelming to look around at my corps on Fridays and recognize the huge strides we have made thus far, from outspoken strangers to inspiring leaders. I look forward to seeing the brightness of our flames at graduation as we indulge in the celebration of our year of service.