Written by Christopher Potter, 22 years old, from Arlington, MA, serving on The Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Team at Beech Street Elementary School.
Inspiration is part of idealism, which is the skill of making our community reflect positive values. Inspiration comes after imagine, recruit, and transform, the steps that let us envision the world the way we want it to be, involve others, and make change. Inspiration is the end of the cycle of idealism, when we share our successes with others. But, inspiration is also the beginning. It’s the fuel that drives us forward to deeper and wider change, and sustains us throughout.
One of the first things I learned in City Year is to be a “servant leader,” to lead by doing and supporting, not ordering. That piece of City Year culture undoubtedly made me a better leader. Through experiences like the Corps’ huge Global Youth Service Day projects, I learned that inspiring others to elicit their best work produces the best results. In that case, “high-quality” was my catch phrase, and I worked with great care, persistence, and enthusiasm through our planning and execution. I came to appreciate how one individual’s idealism or cynicism subtly sways the work of a group. City Year inspired me, I inspired others, and the whole Beech Street Team inspired students as we beautified the school and practiced service together.
Leadership through inspiration works. The students I worked with on GYSD begged to work on more projects and to have more service days. Our projects–our permanent, visible legacy at Beech Street School–look fantastic. Even as I leave City Year, I will never forget the importance of my actions and the value of inspiring others.