Apr 8, 2009

The Phi Delt Experience: Better Than You Could Ever Expect

GHQ Staff Blogger
The Phi Delt Experience: Better Than You Could Ever Expect

It’s hard to believe that I am almost done with two years as a Leadership Consultant.  It’s gone by quickly, and it’s been a fantastic experience, although not always for the reasons I expected.

When I became a leadership consultant, I expected a fast-paced, jet setting lifestyle.  Large crowds.  Exotic locales.  Landmarks.  Live music.  Now don’t get me wrong…  I have experienced lots of those things.  I’ve gone skiing for the first time, hiked in the mountains, enjoyed 75 degree weather in the middle of winter, been to both oceans and seen several major sporting events – both college and professional.  But I think the best parts of the job are the everyday, “ordinary” experiences.

When I took the job, I had dreams of spending several weeks in paradise while opening the Fraternity’s first chapter in Hawaii.  But seeing Iowa Beta win homecoming just two weeks after bid day and before becoming a colony was worth ten Hawaii Alphas.  So was seeing fraternities at several campuses get nervous because we were already bigger than them after just a few weeks of recruiting.  And nothing is quite so rewarding as seeing Founding Fathers form a brotherhood and accomplish something as a group for the first time.

I came into this position expecting one thing, but I got something so much better.  And isn’t our fraternity involvement often like that?  How many of us joined Phi Delta Theta because of the social life or because it looked good on a resume… but came away with something much more meaningful.

I know that when I joined the fraternity, I never imagined that my chapter brothers would become my best friends, and I certainly never expected to hold several executive offices.

Many times, our expectations have little to do with the experience we end up having, and I think the same is true of others’ expectations.

Often when I am preparing for a month-long stay in some college town in the Midwest or in the plains, people ask with disbelief, “You’re excited to go there?”  Other times, people ask me which places I have enjoyed the most, and I sometimes get the feeling that they are disappointed when, instead of mentioning the sightseeing I’ve done, I mention things like watching our members compete in campus events or trying out a local restaurant.  But it’s these simple things that make every day worthwhile, regardless of someone else’s expectations.

I think this is also true of the general Phi Delt experience – that we sometimes need to ignore other peoples’ expectations.   I think of my chapter brother, Ben Wankum, someone we often thought of as the crazy guy in the chapter.  Thankfully, he was not pigeonholed or limited by our expectations, and he became a great chapter president, helping lead Nebraska Alpha to receive Honorable Mention for the Harvard Trophy.

So instead of doing what we thought we would end up doing, or what others think we should be doing, sometimes we just need to go out there and “do what ought to be done.”  In the words of one my favorite quotes: “Don’t ask what the world needs.  Ask yourself what makes you come alive and go do that.  The world needs people who have come alive.”

So does Phi Delt, and finding the ways to contribute that make us come alive is how we really make a difference in the Fraternity.

Keith is a Senior Leadership Consultant and works with the Expansion team.  He graduated from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, majoring in Secondary Education. Keith is a National Merit Scholar and maintained a 3.83 GPA.  He was elected Homecoming King and served as Volunteer Director for the Nebraska Association of Student Councils.  Keith is a Re-Founding Father of Nebraska Alpha where he served as President for two terms, scholarship chairman, and awards chairman.

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