Sarah Rosemont is the NFTY Northwest Membership Vice President.
Losing an election was one of the best things that has happened to me in my NFTY experience thus far.
That is definitely not what I would have said if I was asked about my NFTY experience on April 17th, 2013, when I was (admittedly) crying after losing the election for NFTY-NW Membership Vice President. But fast-forward a year and half, and I stand-by my answer. And this is why:
After I lost the election, we did a mixer to get to know people and kick-off the actual event. There were no group leaders for the mixer; each group needed to work together as a team without a designated leader. My group was composed of about 25 people, and it was soon made clear to us that we were not making any progress on the task at hand. We were all trying to talk at once and there were 25 different ideas being tossed around, so someone suggested we elect a leader to take charge. When they said this, heads turned towards me, and that’s when it hit me: I didn’t get the title of Membership Vice President, but that didn’t mean I couldn’t still be a leader.
I realized in that moment that being a leader is not about the title. It’s about being an example to others and allowing your passion to shine through. I was passionate about NFTY and decided that being an active part of the organization was more important to me than winning or losing an election, so I turned my focus to leading from my seat.
That whole year I led from my seat, and I had an absolute blast doing it. Then the next year’s elections rolled around and I decided to try again for MVP. It was my senior year and I didn’t want losing once to stop me from trying again. So I did, and this time, I won.
That brings me to the present. I am currently a senior in high school, serving as the NFTY-NW Membership Vice President. Even though it didn’t work out the first time, I persevered and learned some valuable lessons along the way. Looking back on it, I believe that losing the elections the first time around made me a better MVP, because I realized that leadership is not about putting yourself on a pedestal and acting superior to others. My goal for the rest of my time as Membership Vice President is to not lead from a pedestal, but from among the crowd. Sure, I’m planning and running events, but that doesn’t make me any better than the people leading from their seats. I am so glad that losing the election two years ago taught me that lesson.
I want to encourage everyone to be that leader from their seat. In most cases, the best leaders are the people who actively engage in the programs, who bring forth new ideas, and who show that they truly care about the organization. Titles don’t matter; what really counts is that you show your passion and love for NFTY. Do that, and people will notice. They will turn their heads towards you when a leader is needed because a title does not define a leader, a leader defines a leader.