Photo courtesy of Texas A&M College of Education
What is your definition of leadership?
Leadership is a person’s ability to set aside their preferences, power and control to allow a common vision to flourish. A leader is not the individual with a booming voice that can make people do what they want, but the person who can see the greater good and empower those who are most capable of achieving it – even if it means taking themselves out of the spotlight completely.
What is the connection between leadership and creativity?
Leadership without creativity is stale and will fail once the first unexpected event occurs. A leader must be creative in order to function in any rapidly changing environment like overseas or non-profit work.
What role do you think self-awareness plays in leadership?
It is a necessity to have a heightened sense of self-awareness. I am quickly realizing that, when my leadership falls apart, it is almost always due to an issue inside of me and not in the people I am trying to lead. Most often these issues could be solved by increased self-awareness.
Do you balance work and personal life or do you blend them together? Explain.
This question makes me laugh every time I hear it. I currently feel like I have three major areas of my life: student, director of an overseas NGO and leader at a local community house. I think it is extremely important to be able to separate the three, but it is difficult. To answer the question directly: my personal life is separate at times, but mostly it’s all mixed together in a beautiful mess.
When are you in The Zone? How do you stay there?
I am most in “The Zone” when I am in the middle of my work – literally on-site. It is difficult to maintain engagement sometimes when the organization is thousands of miles away. With the nature of my work, lately I have been forced to learn how to balance this better.
How do you stay motivated to do your best work?
All the work I do, including my schooling, directly affects people; I am able to see those results almost immediately. This makes it easy to focus on the task and hand and do my best.
What is the importance of quality relationships (mentors, like-minded friends) in your role as a leader?
Without high quality and close knit relationships with persons of the same mind and heart, I would be a pile of depression. The work I do is taxing at every level and requires a strong community of brothers and sisters. I believe mentoring relationships are necessary to build quality leaders.
What is your vision for your future?
I would like to see myself find more peace and structure in my current leadership capacities while never settling for the status quo. I would like to be in a position to play some role in raising up leaders who can be sent out to do greater works than I have even considered. I would like to be a father to many, not just my kids, and a brother to all.
Ben Travis is a special education major at Texas A&M University. He was born in Houston, Texas to some awesome parents. After graduation in December 2012, he plans to teach in Bryan and will be overseas most summers developing a school in Ghana. Ben and his roommates recently produced their first song, “It’s cold as chit in this house” – a moving ballad concerning the climate of their home.