Daniel R.

Stout Personal Statement of Leadership April 9, 2007 EDLST 450 There is a difference in the world between commanding respect and leadership and demanding respect and leadership. Demanding leadership comes from being in a position that comes with status, a position like a teacher, a president, or even just a senior most member of something which has embedded in it such power for leadership. Unfortunately there is an ever so subtle power dynamic that is unseen by most. This power dynamic makes it so that commanded leadership won’t always be effective. The reason most people don’t see it is because when dealing with power or its synonyms of leadership, or political capital as its called in politics, is the reality that those concepts are fluid. This fluidity, just like water in a bottle that is shaken, is moving. Power is maintained and created through the three axes of subjectivity (which are all explained by Foucault in The Discourse on Language): Truth, Power, and Ethics. Truth means that discourse contains absolute truths so that one can acquire legitimacy by explaining how the world really works. Power is maintained by expressing rules and regulations that people must follow. It dictates the acceptable from the unacceptable as far as conduct and interactions are concerned. Ethics is a little different from power in that ethics is describing a value system upon which to base decisions. This would be something like saying that Equality, as an example, if it were most important value, would determine our decisions about policies and interactions with persons. Knowing that power is maintained that way is important, because when you understand how power is created, you can see how leadership forms. While there is something to be said for having a degree, (and being ranked in a certain position isn’t something that is considered irrelevant in this discussion), the more important aspect of power, and therefore leadership, is how is that power maintained. In order for leadership to be maintained you must have power. I define Power as the ability to persuade, coerce, convince, threaten, and alter a person, a society’s, and/or a country’s opinion and/or worldview on a given subject. This is why power is what defines the ability for someone to be a leader; without it you are merely someone who is out and about doing nothing. This is why I think I’m someone who leads now. I’ve got the status of being the senior-most debater, which propels me to the forefront of credibility. Add that with being on the top team, going to the NDT, placing at CEDA 1

and you’ve got a mixture for credibility. In order to get the leadership position I’ve got today, I had to work hard. It took miles and miles of heart to keep going when the gloomiest and darkest days of KSU debate were amongst us. Yet I kept going. My accomplishments prove Truth to what I say about debate. It proved that I knew what I was talking about, and when someone didn’t believe me, we would debate it out and discover nine-times-out-of-ten I proved my point. I could explain how debate rounds work and why they work that way. I helped establish norms about how to interact with the coaches in order to keep everyone out of trouble, and to be considerate of the persons with different eating habits than normal. I also established the ethic of heart. People began to realize the ups and downs I’ve faced throughout my career and see that heart is what matters- because anyone can become a good debater, you just have to want it more than the other people. I showed that a kid who graduated high school with a 3.3 GPA and a 20 ACT score can still accomplish his goals at the collegiate level; and it wasn’t about skill, it wasn’t about talent, but it was about heart. I believe that many debaters understand that now because of a path that I had to once again expose to the squad. I’m not done growing and learning by any means. However I can say I’m perfect, because I can look into the eyes of my squad, my family, and myself and honestly tell them that I gave every thing I could. I sacrificed everything I could so that I could be perfect, and there wasn’t one more thing I could do. It’s that relationship that means perfection. Gratefully though, I can still accomplish more as a coach. This is who I want to be; I want to be the coach of a dynasty. This is the new system of perfection that I embark upon. I want to be the coach kids go out of their way to debate for. I want to be the coach that high schoolers know will help them achieve success. I want to, and know that I have to, be the coach who is always there to help out with the debating skills, by watching practice speeches, and having and watching practice rounds. But, I also must be the coach who is there to help the students through the transition away from their parents, the heartbreak of the relationships that come and goto help them discover their identities as if they are just waiting to be found. The Bottom line is a coach must be more than a master mind of strategy and wit for rounds. The best coaches are the mentors, the ones who you can always count on when things are bad. I’m ready for that challenge. I feel as though I’ve acquired the credibility needed to be listened to and reasoned with in order to make good and winning debate decisions. I’ve got stuff still to learn about debate, I’ve 2

not run or heard every argument that has ever been made, and I think the most effective coaches have plenty of experience to be able to identify and be familiar with argumentation. For this I’m ready to learn, I’m ready to be around the circuit, but this time as a coach. The biggest reason why I know I’m ready to coach is that my own debating career is finished and I’m happy about what I did and what I accomplished. That satisfaction prevents me from living through my debaters and trying to make them do what I wasn’t able to do. This outlook allows me to see things in a way that allows constant compassion. It allows me to look at things and accept them. I can have desire for winning and great success, but won’t be miserable if we don’t because I’m not attached to that desire. So while I may not be ready to coach my own college team yet, I’ve got all the tools I need, I just need the experience. “Being perfect is not about that scoreboard out there. It's not about winning. It's about you and your relationship with yourself, your family and your friends. Being perfect is about being able to look your friends in the eye and know that you didn’t let them down because you told them the truth. And that truth is you did everything you could. There wasn’t one more thing you could've done. Can you live in that moment as best you can, with clear eyes, and love in your heart, with joy in your heart? If you can do that gentleman - you're perfect!” Coach Gary Gaines had it right in Friday Night Lights: leadership is about being perfect, knowing deep down inside that for that debate seasons (in my case), for that debate round, there was nothing more that you could’ve done. Maintaining and earning leadership is about respect, not from demands that come from someone with status, but commands from someone who earns respect and leadership. To earn and maintain leadership is about perfection, and through perfection do the axes of subjectivity become apparent and effective. As such, I know that I’ll strive, dive and make perfection occur, because all it takes is heart, miles and miles of heart, and with such leadership will come naturally.


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