Analysis of Deresiewicz’s ideas about leadership

The points made by William Deresiewicz in the article Solitude and Leadership were both relatable and concerning.  This article, taken from a speech given to West Pointe students, attacked traditional leadership roles and promoted the use of solitude in procuring ideas that truly were unique to each individual.  Though his explanation of the merits of alone-time were intriguing to me, I was especially taken by his analysis of leadership and the people who are deemed leaders in America.

Throughout his description of leadership in our nation, Deresiewicz utilizes the assumption that leadership is a goal that all want to attain and that major universities strive to teach their students.  I do not believe that leadership is a characteristic that is essential to succeeding in life.  Some careers value followers, rather than leaders.  It is silly to expect (or hope) that everyone will adopt leadership characteristics because in that case there would be no one to lead.  Does that leave all of the less intelligent people to become followers?  I think that if Deresiewicz had begun his speech by outlining the merits of leadership, he could have been much more persuasive.

That being said, I do agree with many of the points that Deresiewicz makes about the leadership crisis in America.  Because Americans value conformity, though one would be hard pressed to find an American who blatantly articulated this, people who “keep the routine going” achieve the highest status.  Isn’t that precisely what a follower does?  Because many large corporations, our government, and even some family dynamics utilize this pro-conformity stance, the heads of our society are people who do not push the envelope.  This is highly concerning; especially when the nation is at war where extremely important decisions are being made.  If all of our leaders are actually just good followers, where does that leave our society?

Deresiewicz urges the audience to not be afraid to “show courage” and stand up to their superiors.  Though this does sound like an effective idea, and the example of General Petraeus does demonstrate his point (subsequent sex scandal aside), it does not seem feasible to preach this idea to a group of freshman at a military school.  When they are in the army and they disobeyed an order that they didn’t agree with, would it be handled with positivity or with a dismissal?  If a student tells his teacher that he disagrees with the way she runs the classroom, that student is more likely to end up in the principal’s office than to become the teacher’s pet.  I think that what Deresiewicz says is logical, but not practical.  Yes, true leadership is the ability to act on your convictions.  Is that always possible?  No.

Blog Topics

After leaving the keystone course (I took it last fall) where a blog topic was conveniently given each week, I must admit that I’ve been struggling a bit to think of a topic worthy of being written about.  I’m not sure why I am having a hard time with this because there are so many unique experiences in Ann Arbor that deserve to be written about.  I think that when I’m not in a course focused about writing, it is too easy to forget that there are opportunities for observation everywhere.  I am in the process of writing my honors thesis, am in two psychology classes that require papers and one women’s studies class that requires multiple essays and one final project.  All of these classes involve writing in some way and I should be able to derive ideas from there.  That is not mentioning all of the experiences I have with writing that occur in my daily life.  I am on the planning committee for Relay for Life and right now we are attempting to recruit groups for our event.  I wrote numerous emails to the coaches of varsity sports teams at U of M.  Even though this may not seem like writing in the academic sense – it still is!  I guess the point of my blog was that I need to be aware of all of the moments in my life that writing is involved.  I need to observe my abilities and difficulties and reflect on how to become even better.

I had my minor release meeting today with T Hetzel and we discussed the possibility of forming a committee for the minor that sends out a topic idea each month for those cohorts that are no longer in the gateway course.  I’m not sure if anyone else is excited about this, but I think that it would be a great idea to help students contribute to the blog each month.

Finally, I’m sure some of you know this but the deadline for Writing Minor applications has been extended to this Monday at 5pm.  If anyone knows someone who would like to be in the minor, PLEASE tell them to apply!

Other People Matter

A few weeks ago, one of my professors suddenly passed away.  It has taken awhile for me to feel comfortable writing about it, and even though this situation is difficult for me to think about, I know that his passing has an important message.  My professor taught positive psychology, he was very well-known and I’m sure many of you know who I am speaking of, and his catch-phrase was “other people matter.”  This may sound obvious or cliché, but what struck me was the way that he truly embodied these words.  It is one thing to say words to your students that you think are important and a completely different thing to live what you are saying.  At his memorial, 1500 people gathered to speak about his life and the impact that he made.  It amazed me that everyone who spoke had a different story about the special person that he was in their life.  Somehow, amidst being a renowned professor, leading researcher, and mentor, he found time in his life to affect so many people.  That is what I have taken away from his death.  You never know how long that you have on this earth, and your time might be up tomorrow, so make sure that you are happy each day with the life you lead.  If you aren’t happy – change it.  Other people matter.  Period.


Thank you Professor Peterson for teaching me that.  I hope you rest in peace.

Welcome back to school

It’s another year and a great time to begin blogging! Welcome to the new cohort of writing minors, I hope you enjoy the experience as much as I have so far. I can’t believe that it’s been an entire year since I started out as a minor. For me, the beginning of senior year has brought the greeting of old friends and meeting new professors and classmates. As always, it is a time of extreme craziness as I attempt to remember how to study for exams while balancing hanging out with friends and football games.
The majority of writing that I expect to do this year will be for the honors thesis that I am in the process of completing for psychology. I am exploring how child temperament and parental personality can combine to influence how the child handles the transition to siblinghood. It is certainly daunting to think that by April I will have a full, polished thesis.
Other than my honors thesis, I am looking forward to the capstone course that the minor in writing offers. I can’t wait to reconnect with the others in my cohort and work more on my portfolio.
If any new minor has any questions that they would like to ask someone who has been through it, let me know. I am more than willing to help out!


I must admit that I have been slacking on the whole “2-3 blog posts per month” phenomenon, to be honest I haven’t even visited the blog since last semester ended.  How weird it is to be sharing our blog with a new cohort!  And I don’t mean weird in an offensive way, I guess the word that I am looking for is “different”.  It is so interesting to sign on to this blog and be able to read posts by people who are doing the same, or similar, assignments that I completed a semester before.  I’ve never had an opportunity like this in a class and I find it extremely valuable.  I also like the fact that I can read someone’s blog and hear their unique voice shine through, without ever seeing their face.  Last semester, I felt that I really got to know most of the members of my cohort through their blogs (and a little bit from class interactions) and I’m lucky that this semester I will still be able to get to know the cohort, even if it is in a slightly more creepy way.  If I ever meet any of you guys, I feel like it will be a little bit like watching a movie after you’ve read the book (“I didn’t picture you like that in my head!”)

I hope all of the new cohort enjoys the writing minor as much as I have so far and I can’t wait to meet you all!


Doneeee and It Feels So Good

Okay, in my head that was to the tune of “reunited and it feels so good.”  I’m not entirely sure why I put that, it’s late and my brain is completely fried.

But anyways, I really am done.  I am so happy with my final portfolio.  It’s crazy that someone who came into this class without any knowledge of website building could leave with a semi-professional looking product.  It has really taken a lot of work but I feel like it definitely captures myself.  I wanted my website to be really simple and modern.  I didn’t want there to be a ton of bells and whistles, just a small design and then my work.  I decided to put in categories of the writing that I showcased and then also have an about me and resume page in case I want to utilize this portfolio for grad school apps or as a supplement to my resume.

I think that if I were to continue working on it, I could add more pictures that correspond to each of my pieces of writing.  Currently, I have a picture that goes with each category if you click on the broad tab and not an individual piece of work but I think there would be the possibility for expansion.  I considered pairing the pieces with pictures while I was creating this portfolio but then decided that I would rather have the writing speak for itself.

I think that the opportunity to create a online portfolio has really been a challenge and a blessing. I am so happy that it is finished and I am really happy with the final product (sometimes I go to the website just to look at it and marvel in the fact that I did that myself, lame I know).  I hope you guys like it too.

Here’s the link for the site:   If anyone has any comments or suggestions, I’ d love to hear them, even if they are after the assignment is due.  I plan on using this for our Writing400 course so new ideas would be great.

Thanks for a great semester guys. I think we really became close as a class and I love that. I hope I get to see each of you in the 400 course! 🙂

In-class essay

I am so unbelievably tired as I write this post; I hope it makes some sort of sense.  Writing the in-class essay yesterday was really helpful for me to gather my thoughts.  I completely deviated from my outline and sort-of began to write whatever came to mind.  It was actually extremely helpful because I could see what I really thought without thinking to much about it.  Does that make any sense? Sometimes I feel like certain ideas are locked in my brain and I know they’re in there somewhere, I just can’t consciously access them.  Writing and rambling helps me to see what I really think.  That’s what I used the time in class for.  So now I am left with some sort of a mess of an essay with many different ideas and random thoughts put in everywhere. Hello, editing.


First of all, let me just say that using our blog right now is totally weirding me out cause I have been working on my eportfolio for so long, it’s weird to be seeing WordPress again in a different format.  Second of all, I also need to say that Lauren Atkins is a genius and I am totally indebted to her.  She has helped me soo much in less than twenty four hours.  At the beginning of class yesterday, I was completely lost.  I aimlessly switched from Weebly to WordPress to Google Sites and then finally back to WordPress.  I couldn’t even get myself started.  But once I did, I couldn’t stop.  I think in the last twenty-ish minutes of class, I really started to kick things into gear.  And that is an empowering feeling!  Because I was so insecure about my abilities to build myself a website, once I realized that I could do it there was no stopping me!  Now I realize that this post might sound melodramatic and too positive but I am in such a positive mood.  I really like looking at my website and knowing that I made that and feeling a sense of pride in it.

If only I could feel the same about my remediating project.  TechDeck here I come…

This isn’t exactly writing related…

Why are some people just mean?  I don’t understand why people who could say something constructive choose to say it in a way that demeans the other person.  And my mother’s reasoning for any problem of this sort (“They’re obviously just jealous of you, Jordan!”) doesn’t always apply.  For example, at work there is one supervisor (I will not name her, obviously) who is one of the meanest people that I have ever met.  She just yelled at me for something that could have been stated in a helpful way.  Yes, it was my fault.  No, she did not have to say it in a way that was so mean, I was left crying at the information desk where I work.  It feels so stupid to cry over someone who would never give you a second thought, but I couldn’t help it.  And I don’t mean that I was sobbing (how would that look to someone who was walking in the building) but tears just wouldn’t stop falling down my face.

One of my co-workers who saw the entire thing happen told me that I just got reamed out for no reason and that she must be having a bad day. But that isn’t it.  She is always like this and I think she has no idea how she comes off.  I hear her talk to customers in a gruff, almost condescending voice and I wonder if we ever lose business because of her.  I don’t understand how she came to work as a boss because she has absolutely zero customer service.

So I was sitting at the desk, seriously contemplating quitting, when I began to ask “why are some people just mean?”  I found a really interesting article (yes, it’s from Oprah’s website..) that makes me feel just a little bit of compassion for people who seem to be out to get the world.  Here’s the link to the article:
Though it does make me feel a little bit bad for her (if she really is as hurt as the article would make her seem), it still does not give her an excuse to make others feel bad.  But another thing that I must accept is that, even if she never changes, I need to.  I can’t curl up into a tiny ball and shut out the world whenever something bad happens to me.  I need to realize that other people are going to do things or say things that aren’t always nice and I need to have the confidence to know that because they might be mean to me, doesn’t mean they hate me.  I am going to have to deal with this supervisor Monday-Wednesday-Friday for the rest of the semester, I have to cope somehow.

Behind the Times

It seems like everyone on the planet has read The Hunger Games trilogy, and though relatively late compared to the rest of the world, I have decided to jump on that bandwagon.  I ordered the first book on my Kindle to read during the 10 hour car ride to North Carolina, our Thanksgiving destination.   I’m not going to lie, the book was captivating.  I really enjoyed the unique storyline and became extremely attached to the characters.  Before the car trip was over, I had finished the first book and was begging my mom to stop at Panera so that I could use the Wifi to download the second one.  Though at first I unhappy about being forced to wait (“once we get to your uncle’s house, you can use the internet!”), I am thankful that I had a chance to think about what I had just read.

What makes a book interesting to the reader?  Why are some books extremely well-written but also extremely boring?  Are the best books ones that are action-packed?  All of these questions were swarming my mind while I shut my eyes and tried to nap away the rest of the roadtrip.

I think that sometimes a book can get away with mediocre writing if the idea behind the story is really captivating.  On the other side of the coin, many people enjoy reading books with lots of beautiful prose and less of an intriguing story.  Maybe it depends on the personality of the reader.

Personally, I enjoy a great story.  When I read not only do I connect with the characters, I feel what they are feeling.  I find myself smiling when things are going well for Katniss during the Games and I cry with her when she loses a fellow player who she has become close with.  Though I must admit, the writing and editing could be improved (finding three typos in the first book is never a good sign), I count this book as a success.  When I am doing something else, I think about how certain things relate to the book and how I want to continue reading.  I talk about the story constantly (my mother will never have to read these books because I have reiterated the entire story to her) and that in it of itself makes the book a success.

On a side note, I appreciate a story that is geared for young adults that manages to avoid a sex scene and swearing throughout the entire book.  It is a rare occurrence and that definitely made an impact on me as well.