Discovering leadership through beauty

There is not a better confidence booster to a young, teenage girl than to receive invitations from beauty pageants and modeling agencies.

I was pushing 6 feet before high school. There were plenty of awkward moments, as I stood out in any crowd. I was flattered that some people in this world think that my awkwardness was beautiful.

In sixth grade, I participated in my first pageant. In eighth grade, I visited a modeling agency. This visit started to teach me about my leadership style.

My family and I received a private tour of the agency. In one room was a large dining room table, beautifully decorated with complete table settings. Here is where I would learn how to eat.

In another room were mirrors and lights. Here, I would learn how to prepare my hair and face.

In another room was a long runway. Here is where I would learn how to walk.

And before we left, the director kindly shared with me that to prepare for modeling classes, I should cut my hair. A nice, short bob would help remove the fuzzy blond ends.

I smiled and thanked her for the tour and suggestions, and we left.

In the safety of our family car, my venting began. I worked hard turning my brown hair to blonde. How dare she tell me to cut it off. And I know how to eat and walk. I couldn’t believe that this was what modeling classes were about. I can be a successful, tall, beautiful girl without this training.

And I was — kind of.

A strong trait within me is that I do not like to be told what to do. I have learned, many years after the modeling agency visit, that this is a trait of my direct and dominant behavioral style.

My strong will has been a blessing and a curse. It has helped me successfully conquer challenges — like finishing college with a new baby — and it has held me back and prolonged my success.

My early years as a leader of a team, I took on a more dominant approach. But I was not received as a captain of a sports team or a leader of a project.

About two weeks after the visit to the modeling agency, my hair dresser performed her magic and removed the fuzzy blond portion. I learned that my straight, brunette, bob-style hair is beautiful and looks much nicer than my bleach blond locks.

Three years later, a sweet friend of mine kindly told me that my long stride causes me to bounce while I walk. If I could shorten my stride, I would not look like an awkward tall girl.

Imagine if I would have swallowed my pride years earlier. Imagine if I were more humble and would have embraced constructive learning. I could have moved quicker toward success. I could have been better received.

Life teaches great lessons. However, there are teachers all around us if we give them a chance to speak to us. Thankfully, I am not done learning. And my humility has increased with age.

I cannot turn off my dominant behaviors, but I can learn how to use them properly — just like I have learned the value of a salad fork.

Kathie Rotz is a leadership consultant, a John Maxwell-certified speaker and a trainer and coach from Dubuque.

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