By Matt Deitch, WG ‘15
Cluster 4’s Ali Lapinsky spoke during April’s “Peer Perspectives on Leadership” discussion, with regards to finding the leader within. Taking the topic of conversation in a personal direction, Ali described the incredibly emotional and difficult journey of discovering that her mother had a terminal illness, and the five subsequent years of caring for her mother as a nurse, family member, and loved one.
Through this painful ordeal, Ali learned two key leadership qualities that allowed her to unlock her inner leader. She has continued to utilize these learnings at Wharton, and demonstrated how they are relevant to any Wharton student.
First, Ali described the Stockdale paradox – the importance of maintaining optimism and realism simultaneously, and at tension with one another. She noted that this trait was first elucidated by Admiral Stockdale – an American POW, who found that he could not have survived his ordeal without remaining optimistic. Simultaneously, Stockdale noted that optimism alone would not have been sufficient, and realism was necessary to allow him to plan for and survive the day-to-day difficulties he was faced with.
Tongue-in-cheek, Ali noted that as a student with a non-traditional background, this Optimism vs. Realism focus frequently comes into play at Wharton.
Finally, Ali described the importance of personal manifest – having an actionable purpose for yourself. This helps a person act in a manner consistent with his or her beliefs, setting an actionable vision for one’s life. Regardless of how new or difficult the situation you are dealing with is, having a personal manifest helps provide steady, straightforward alignment.
Through the challenges Ali faced, she found that maintaining a balance of optimism and realism, and looking inwards to determine what her actionable purpose was, drove her to successfully lead in the most trying situation of her life. The lessons mentioned extend far beyond her specific situation, and it is her hope we can use them in any future conflict in which we face the unknown.
If you are interested in nominating a classmate with a compelling story to speak for the Peer Perspectives on Leadership series, please contact Matt Deitch, (WG’15) at email@example.com. Also, like our Facebook page (Wharton Peer Perspectives on Leadership) to stay up-to-date on upcoming presentations!