David Ternik is a senior Mechanical Engineering student at Miami University who is driven by a passion for design and clean energy. David is a member of Miami’s Lockheed Martin Leadership Institute and has been actively involved on campus through various employments, such as his role working at BEST Library and his position as a campus tour guide. His professional experience includes engineering internships with companies such as Honda and Bechtel Plant Machinery.
Lockheed Martin Leadership Institute member David Ternik takes a look in the mirror for the last three years of his transformational leadership journey.
My name is David Ternik, I am a member of Cohort 4 of the Lockheed Martin Leadership Institute. I’m going to talk today about what the leadership institute is, what transformational learning is, and how it has affected me during my years here at Miami University. First, I want to give you a little bit of context. And a situation that pops up for me a lot, happened just today, I took out my cell phone to read an article that I saw I had a notification for, a sports article. So, I got dragged into my sports app and all of a sudden, I’m checking, you know, what time is the game tonight and then I get pulled into my email because I get a popup for that and I’m going through and I’m checking all the unread emails that I have from the last few days. Next thing I know, it’s just by habit, I end up checking my Reddit app. Then I get linked in to my Canvas site, where I’m looking at all the assignments I should be doing. While all this is happening, I forgot that the only reason I pulled my phone out in the first place was to check what time it was. I could simply just have a watch, but I’m not a fan and so I distracted. And what I’m really getting at here is the idea of focus and awareness. And that’s really the first step in transformation.
Year one of the Lockheed Martin Leadership Institute really introduces transformational learning and this idea that we need to constantly build our awareness. That’s the awareness of ourselves, the awareness of those around us, and about global and cultural issues as a whole. So, in the first year, this idea of transformational learning and lifelong learning gets brought in. The real wake-up call for me was learning about focus, specifically as Dan Goleman presents it. It really helped me recognize the need for transformational learning, like the example with the cell phone. It’s amazing how often a lack of focus can creep up and can cause us to be less productive. And that time really adds up. We also talk about Mindfulness by Dan Siegel, which kind of brought to light the importance of reflection, of taking time out of every day to think about what our purpose is for that day. We talk about Myers Briggs types, and just the way that some people simply work differently and how we need to understand those differences, what it means for how we interact with them, and what we need to be aware of. For instance, I’m an ENTP, I tend to be loud and intimidate or scare off somebody who might be more of an introvert than myself. And so learning how to deal with different types of people in a team was one of the big, another big eye-opener in our first year of the program. Seven Habits of Highly Effective People as well. “Think Win-Win” really stuck out to me. Coming from high school where things are, it seems much more competitive than college feels, and so learning how to function as a team and that team goals really take precedence over individual goals was another big take-away from our first year. And then I’ve mentioned this word team several times, we talk about groups vs. teams, so what the difference is, and how the goals of a group differ from that of a team.
In year two, we talk more about our, about people leadership. Where the first year is about building a lot of this awareness of self and understanding our own strengths and weaknesses and things we need to learn, to work on, now we talk more about how we apply these things to other people as leaders, because that’s the most important part of a leader is the people and what you’re able to inspire them to do. Five Dysfunctions of a Team was a great introduction to the topic, and what really sticks with me when I think back on that is the importance of conflict. Everybody needs to have their voice heard, and sometimes that needs to come out in a way that, you know, feels argumentative, but if you don’t have your voice heard then you’re more likely to withdraw from a project if you don’t think that your ideas are being listened to. And that really comes back to what our purpose as people is: everybody wants to have an impact and to make a difference, and if we can’t listen to people in teams and we can’t create an environment where everybody feels heard, then the team is simply going to fail.
In the third year, which is strategic leadership, which we’re currently in the middle of, we begin to take a more holistic approach, a view of the world that is more all-encompassing than just looking at ourself or small teams. We begin to prepare ourselves for life beyond college by profiling companies that we think we might want to work at and doing an industry analysis so that we know, really, what it is that we’re stepping into before we, we’re already there and it’s too late. We also continue our personal development with True North, these, we go through a workbook and we break out into True North groups where we can talk about some of the more personal issues that we deal with and reflect on our past experiences to narrow down our strengths and our weaknesses.
But really beyond learning, the Lockheed Martin Leadership Institute brings in this unique feature where you have to live it. It’s not enough just to learn it, for it to really sink in, you’ve got to live it. And so, during each of our three years we’ve had different activities, different programs that have forced us to apply the lessons that we learn. In the first year, we hosted an event called the “Start the Trend Challenge” at Miami University which addresses in STEM fields, in STEM fields, bias and lack of gender diversity. It, it really brought out some critical thinking in a public forum, not to mention just the task of organizing the event. It was really the first time that I had hosted a project or worked on a project of that magnitude. We also made a trip out to the Lockheed Martin Global Visions Center in D.C., which was the first time I was able to take a peek at what my future might look at, look like five years down the road. It was eye-opening because, you think that the four years of college are going to last forever, but seeing what, you know, life will look like in a few years after graduation, it was a good thing to make myself aware of at an early age, relatively. In the second year, the way that we lived it was through a podcast series that we created called Listen 4 Insight, which focused on innovation and creativity and leadership. We would interview people from all walks of life, of different ages, of different backgrounds, and ask them their insights on creativity and innovation and we would compile them into a short podcast series. The project management side of this was really the more grueling part of it. Creating a podcast series from just an idea proved to be quite a challenge, and learning how to work as a team with the Cohort of 15 people that we had been working with for a couple years was no easy task. Certainly, that was the crucible that has had the most impactful learnings to me. And even if we didn’t realize it at the time, that struggle was, was healthy and really helped us develop. In the third year, as I mentioned that we’re currently in, we’ve broken out into our True North groups to talk about our purpose in a very mature way and to use reflection to impact our futures.
And that’s a perfect segue into the third aspect of the Leadership Institute that I think is critical to transformational learning, and that is reflection. Without reflection, we aren’t learning continuously, because to learn continuously we have to go back and re-learn what we think we already understand, because going back and looking at these things that we, that we think that we fully grasp is where the true learnings really come in. From Richard Lieder, we learned that our elders wished that they had been more reflective earlier in their life, and so want to take their advice and we want to take time out of every day to look at what we’re doing and what our purpose is for that day. And to aid us with that, we created a leadership development plan at the end of our first year in the program, which we can reference back to and we can evaluate how we are working toward the goals that we’ve laid out for ourselves.
So, my challenge to you is to really focus on the reflection side of this. Take time out of every day to put yourself as a fly on the wall and look down on the room and ask yourself “what, what is my purpose today? What am I focused on? What should I be focused on? And what can I do to make today an impact that I want to see on the world?”
Categories | Inside the Institute
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