RLF Refection: Proposing Alternative Solutions

On November 3rd, Richard Desir gave the RLF cohort a presentation on being the outlier and not being afraid of proposing alternative solutions. Richard, from Brookline, Massachusetts, is no stranger to organizing, as he led the regional planning committee for his Rotary District 7910, helping facilitate 300+ annual student events back in high school. At Dartmouth, he is a computer science major and a first generation college student. 

During the presentation, Richard emphasized that successful solutions are born from trying something new, and while failure may be a part of that, it could actually lead you to a better outcome in the end. He uses the book The Art of Not Giving a F--k by Mark Manson and the Ted Talk by the artist Steve Lacy, "The Bare Maximum" to illustrate these points. Steve Lacy, in particular, was successful as an artist because he had to use an IPod rather than more professional equipment; something he thought originally was a negative turned out to be the reason for his success. He concludes by saying that sometimes trying something different can spark new innovation. 

Richard also provided some interesting reflection questions, including thinking about a way to deal with pushback to alternative solutions and when it could actually be unsuccessful. What comes to mind for me is my work in Dartmouth Student Government, where my recent changes to how the group is run had some pushback initially as people said I was "taking it too seriously". However, I think that pushback is something that leaders will inevitably face, and, while you should consider all perspectives and experiences, leaders are born from moral stalwartness and resoluteness. If you truly believe in something, you need to stand against pushback and be the outlier. I believe that you shouldn't try to be different for the sake of being different, but rather that you truly have faith in what you are doing. Despite this, I would consider that listening to your teammates and peers and being able to adjust your stance and admit failure and wrongdoing is essential to growth, so someone should not always go against their group just for the sake of being "different". Rather, being an outlier should come from genuine belief in standing your ground. We had a speaker who exemplified this earlier this term: Dr. Chris Matthews. In his session, "Leadership Challenges", Dr. Matthews outlined how he stood against gender-based discrimination at his local YMCA, and even stepped down from its board in protest. This is an example of someone holding true to their moral character despite the popular opinion urging him to do the opposite by letting these problematic behaviors continue. I think that both Richard's presentation and Dr. Matthews' session provides us with the valuable lesson that in order to lead, we need to know what we stand for.

-Written by David Millman, Class of 2023 Rockefeller Leadership Fellow 

As Rockefeller Leadership Fellows, seniors gain a better understanding of the qualities and responsibilities expected of leaders. As Fellows take part in the workshops, discussions, and team-building exercises, they examine their skills, qualities, and attributes as leaders and analyze how these influence teamwork and achieving goals.