Welcome to the I Am A Leader blog series, featuring leaders who make a difference. Today’s guest blogger is Rachael Meier. Rachael is the owner of Simple Heart Photography. She studied communications and religion at Heidelberg College in Tiffin, OH. After 2 years at YOU! Magazine in California and 7 years working in the conference office at Franciscan University of Steubenville, she realized her passion was capturing life with her camera. Now taking her photography business full time, she is also a full time wife and mother to two boys.
Rachael specializes in weddings and loves being the storyteller for a couple in love on their wedding day. Check out her work at www.simpleheartphotography.com or her writings and recent work at simpleheartphoto.blogspot.com. You can also find her on Facebook here.
I realized a while back that I always seem to find myself in leadership roles. It was as if I looked up one day and thought, “hmm, I must be a leader.” Being a leader doesn’t bother me. I am the second oldest of five children. I love being around people and helping them, love being involved, and well, I guess sometimes I can take charge when things just need to get done. I have realized I am a natural leader, but that doesn’t mean it always comes easy to me. It does mean that it is a gift, and an honor that God gave to me that I dare not take for granted.
Some of the leadership roles I have had in my life are: A shift leader back in high school working at the local McDonald’s, an RA in college for three years, and then quickly took on numerous responsibilities when I volunteered at YOU! Magazine, which is a Catholic Teen Magazine based in California after college. I learned early on that I enjoyed being a leader. I enjoyed helping others reach their potential. I enjoyed chipping in to the team effort to get the job done. I learned when I over committed, that I became the only one getting things done and realized I needed to share the responsibility. Being a leader doesn’t mean doing it all yourself, rather it requires you to gain the respect of others and lead the direction of those working with you. Being a leader doesn’t mean having all the answers, yet knowing where to find them.
Being a leader also means means being a good follower. A “right of passage” if you will, of being a leader is doing some type of ropes course with your fellow team members during a training event, staff retreat, or team building activity. I have done several of such courses in my time, and was even a leader for a course at a university for a few years. One particular experience that stands out for me was the time that the instructors decided to give me an extra challenge. They knew I was a leader, loved to talk, loved to help and knew a lot of the exercises we were about to embark on that day. So they decided to make me mute for the day. But they didn’t stop there! They also blindfolded me and tied up my hands. I was completely dependent on my other teammates. I learned to be a good leader, by being a good follower. This taught me to stop and listen to others ideas and to discover new ways of doing things. This taught me to let the quieter people in the group step up to the plate. This allowed the strengths of the whole team to shine. Not just the leader!
I am at a new stage in my life now. I am a wife, a mother, and I run my own photography business from my home. I don’t have a typical team that I am working with, but I have two little boys who look up to me to lead them everyday. I lead them how to eat healthy. I lead them in how to play together. I lead them in how to talk to each other. I lead them in daily prayers. And nothing keeps you on track like instant feedback! As the mother of two growing boys who are learning at a rapid rate, I know when my temper gets short—so does theirs. I know when my eating habits are poor—so are theirs. I know when my prayer life struggles—so does theirs.
We often think of leadership in just the corporate world, but it is happening all around us, everyday. How are we going to lead today? Who are we leading today? Who is watching? Who do you want to be?
A special thank you to Rachael Meier for sharing her insights about leadership with us today! Stay tuned every Friday as the I Am A Leader blog series continues. Please share this blog post via Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Let’s continue the conversation on Twitter using the #iamaLEADER hash tag! You can connect with SOS Leadership on Twitter here and Rachael Meier here.
Check out all of the I Am A Leader blogs here!