Written by Shanna Kirkpatrick, Chara Founder
Leaders Are Made, Not Born
When I was a teenager, I learned that leaders are made—not born. It was a philosophy instilled in me by my parents, who were committed to raising confident kids equipped to face the complexities of our world and contribute to our local communities. They taught me that to be successful in life, I needed a strong sense of self along with a commitment to serve others.
When I reached high school, my parents sent me to a program called Student Leadership University, an experience designed to engage and inspire youth to discover their leadership potential. (It was based in Orlando, which also meant we got to visit Universal Studios—a highlight for me, although this was in the pre-Harry Potter days!)
It was during the SLU classes and seminars that I began to absorb many life lessons in leadership. I was introduced to the work of Franklin Covey, author of The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. This is when my passion for systems and time management took root!
During this program, I learned what it meant to have personal values—and how to make decisions based on them. I also began to understand what it meant to be an active participant in my life, intentionally using my core values as a filter through which I could make choices. As a teen, I quickly adopted integrity as one of those guiding values; it resonated with me. C.S. Lewis once said, “Integrity is doing the right thing, even when no one is looking,” and I held that principle close to my heart. Now as an adult, it is a value that I am teaching my own children.
There was another lesson that impacted my life in an enormous way—how loving and serving others is a cure for the disease of self. As a teen, it was eye-opening to truly understand that the world wasn’t all about me! And in fact this big, beautiful world needed people like me to serve a higher purpose; to create a ripple effect of positive influence. Because of this lesson, lifting up others became a guiding principle in my life.
At Chara, it is part of our mission to build a legacy of leadership, and to teach lessons like these. We want to instill a belief in every child that they are fearfully and wonderfully made by their Creator, and they can share that message through humble, intentional leadership. This is why, two years ago, we implemented the STAR Leadership program; a series of classes for ages 10 through 18, held monthly on Saturday afternoons. The classes can be taken a la carte or as a series, in order to graduate from this year’s chapter of STAR Leaders.
My work in child development through the arts over the past 20 years has taught me that every child is born with a natural tendency to love, serve, and lead. Every child has the potential to be a great leader, in his or her own unique way. And it is up to us, as the grown-ups in their lives, to recognize their strengths—and help develop them.
I hope you will choose to have your child join us in STAR Leadership to gain confidence in themselves, gain critical thinking skills, and practice serving others.
With gratitude to you—and to my parents as well!