I Am A Leader: Vivien Xiao-Yun Du’s Thoughts about Leadership

Welcome to the I Am A Leader blog series, featuring leaders who make a difference. Today’s guest blogger is Vivien Xiao-Yun Du. Vivien is a graduate student at the University of Mary Hardin Baylor in Belton, Texas, and serves as an intern for SOS Leadership. We are grateful for her hard work and dedication to developing leaders that make a difference.

I am an international student from China, studying to get my MBA at the University of Mary Hardin Baylor in Belton, TX. Meanwhile, I am an intern working at SOS Leadership Institute. Before I came to America to get my Master’s degree, I worked for Industrial Securities Company, China Merchants Bank, and Beijing Zhong Lianya Real Estate Develop Co. Ltd. Through the real experience of working with executive managers as well as other professional leaders, I have developed my own personal understanding of leadership, which is constantly evolving. Being in Texas for almost eight months and adapting to a new culture reinforced my definition of leadership in a more practical and realistic way.

“To become an able and successful man in any profession, three things are necessary: nature, study and practice.” – Henry Ward Beecher

Everyone is a leader by nature, at least in the sense of determining and being in control of their own life and destiny. Mastering time management, goal setting, self-control, and self-motivation are critical for individuals to lead themselves and others. 

It is often hard for people to improve their weaknesses, which makes developing into an effective leader difficult. One of the most common weaknesses leaders have is procrastination. Many people find it natural to procrastinate and can never seem to overcome it. 

Some leaders who use their time effectively and efficiently are great at accomplishing their goals, and find it easy to overcome their weaknesses. These people are what we usually define as being successful. Author C. JoyBell C once stated, “I feel that we are often taken out of our comfort zones, pushed and shoved out of our nests, because if not, we would never know what we could do with our wings, we would never see the horizon and the sun setting on it, we would never know that there’s something far better beyond where we are at the moment. It can hurt, but then later you say ‘thank you.’ I have been pushed and shoved and have fallen out and away, so very, very, many, many times! And others around me have not! But then, the others haven’t seen what I have seen or felt what I have felt or been who I have been, they can’t become what I have become. I am me.” 

Some of the greatest leaders I know may be described as being: passionate, logical, positive, responsible, creative, and inspiring. These traits can be learned and strengthened through experience. 

There is a saying, “A good leader inspires people to have confidence in the leader; a great leader inspires people to have confidence in themselves.” Leaders help others to become leaders. A key aspect of being a good leader is to be confident. If you lack confidence, how can you help others to trust in themselves? 

Take me for example – coming from a non-English speaking country, language is an obstacle that has been a hardship for me. I was feeling uncomfortable and frustrated at the beginning, and I was not really confident anymore even though I typically adapt well to new environments. The stress of graduate classes and socializing dragged me into a depression and even made me doubt my own ability. 

“Very often we are our own worst enemy as we foolishly build stumbling blocks on the path that leads to success and happiness,” said Louis Binstock. The most fortunate thing is I realized at that point that you have to build faith in yourself wherever you are and whoever you are at the moment. Like Charlie Chaplin said “You have to believe in yourself, that’s the secret. Even when I was in the orphanage, when I was roaming the street trying to find enough to eat, even then I thought of myself as the greatest actor in the world. I had to feel the exuberance that comes from utter confidence in yourself. Without it, you go down to defeat.” 

Day by day, I am trying to be confident in myself no matter what I say or do. Only when you believe in yourself can you truly impact the people around you and arouse their hope.

If you want to be a good leader allow yourself to be confident. Know that you can overcome your weaknesses. Leadership is an acquired ability. Leaders are not born; they are made! Have faith in yourself, continue to expand your knowledge about leadership and put what you learn into practice each and every day. 

I’ll close with one of my favorite quotes from the book Seeds of Success by SOS Co-Founders Bill and Billy Moyer, “If you do what you’ve always done, you will be who you’ve always been.” Know that you have what it takes to become a leader!


A special thank you to Vivien Xiao-Yun Du for sharing her insights 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.

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