Monday’s Lunch to Lead speaker was Vivian Lang, from the Class of 2010. She spoke to the students about how she has expanded her view of leadership since her high school years. Vivian related how she once believed that there was a hierarchy of leadership where people who took on the biggest roles were the best leaders. Her opinion has evolved during college to accept that small acts of leadership are just as important as the ones that end up being noticed and that an audience, medal, or fan base is not required for leadership to be worthwhile. She relayed a story about Robert Khayat walking the Ole Miss campus early in the mornings while he was Chancellor to pick up trash while no one was out to witness his service. Vivian said this type of “quiet leadership” can be more powerful than the actions that make the newspapers. She then challenged the students to offer small acts of leadership each day using the gifts they have been given to serve those around them.
One thing that struck her was a sorority sister who kept her room in the house very neat and her door open. When Vivian commented on it, her friend told her that she kept it picked up so that if a girl wanted to come in and talk, she didn’t have to clean out a place for her to sit—- she could just stop and talk to the girl. She wanted to have an open door so that anyone who needed an ear could find her. This same friend nurtured a gift for listening, not preparing what her response was going to be when people were talking to her. Vivian said that opened her eyes to the value of quiet leadership. She said that when she was preparing to speak, she tried to think of any “noteworthy” leadership recognition she had earned recently and drew a blank until a fellow grad student thanked her for being an encourager during their first semester. Vivian had not intentionally done this but realized that the small gestures can make a big difference to someone who is struggling.
Vivian graduated from Ole Miss and is a first year grad student at Wake Forest University where she is studying English Literature. She told the students that they were welcome to call or text her if they had any questions about college life, grad school, or Accents.