Seize the Day, Make Your Lives Extraordinary

January 2, 2013

Last month, I attended the third annual Yale Student Leadership Forum organized by the Association of Yale Alumni. This one-and-a-half-day forum enables students from across Yale University to develop leadership skills, meet successful leaders and bring student leadership to life with compelling speakers, panels, and workshops.

The speakers included Les Fagen, Senior Partner, Litigation Department, Paul, Weiss, Joan E. O’Neil, Vice-President, Development, Yale University and Andrew Klaber, President and Founder of Orphans Against AIDs. There were three main points that I took from hearing their stories:

  1. Leadership is a capability that can be developed;
  2. Development of leadership is a hard process. There is no short cut. You have to work hard.
  3. Yale changed their lives.

The most interesting module for me was one that featured film clips from Twelve O'Clock High and Dead Poet’s Society. Twelve O'Clock High is about a General who takes command of a B-17 squadron that is suffering from bad luck, low morale and high casualties. Dead Poet’s Society is about a teacher who encourages his students to seize the day. A general and a teacher are totally different people in different environments however they both effectively lead their followers to live for the moment

Mr. Keating, the teacher from Dead Poets Society, tells his students, “Seize the day boys, make your lives extraordinary.” The sentiment reflected in this quote is also suitable for us. We are so lucky to live in a fast growing era with unlimited possibilities. In my career I have gone from being a software engineer in a small group to a manager overseeing 700 hundred people witnessing the fast growth of the Chinese IT industry in the past decade. Although I have had success there have been opportunities missed because I was not fully prepared to seize the day. That’s why I have gone back to school to learn advanced management knowledge here. I am so lucky to study at Yale SOM which provides me with excellent courses and precious opportunities to have conversations with real world executives. I am like a droplet of water which has entered an ocean of knowledge and wisdom, enjoying my journey. And learning new things always make one happy. “It is indeed a pleasure to acquire knowledge and, as you go on acquiring, to put into practice what you have acquired.”(From Confucius)

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Helen Sun