Many posters ask about leadership and what to do to demonstrate your leadership to USNA. I recently came across an excellent example that I thought would be useful to post. The post is long but, stick with it and you'll understand what leadership is all about. Each year, our office hosts a food drive to support a local charity. They set it up as a "contest" among floors of the building to encourage participation and offer a prize (maybe "jeans day") for the winners. Over the past 5+ yrs of the event, our floor has always finished dead last. And I do mean dead last. As in, when everyone else has 15,000+ points, we've had <1,000. Apathy is the main reason. We have "floor captains," who are supposed to organize support for the event. This year, a new legal assistant wanted to "apply" for the position of floor captain for our floor until she found out she was the only one who wanted to do it. That didn't deter her . . . she took on the job and here's what she did. The week before the event started, she went around to all of the senior attorneys asking us to contribute and to sponsor events, such as a pizza party at the end of the week for all who donated. She personally asked me to talk to my colleagues and encourage them to show leadership by donating. Knowing that we lead busy lives, she said that, if we gave her money, she'd do the shopping for us - and did it. She went to local businesses and got "prizes" (e.g., gift certificates, bottles of wine, etc.) for those who donated the highest volume each day. She sent out daily enthusiastic emails encouraging people to participate. She created "I donated" stickers for donors to wear each day. After the first day, we were in the middle of the pack. Not bad for a floor that had never done anything. She then came up with the idea of noon shopping. She sent around reminder emails telling folks that, if we provided the cash, two secretaries had volunteered to take their lunch hour to go to a local store to buy food (there were specific items for each day). By day two, we were in second place (of 8 floors). The emails and personal visits kept coming. She got one of my colleagues, who has an aversion to this type of program (for reasons that aren't relevant here) and thus who had never donated anything ever to pay for the pizza party and donate to the cause. Why? He cited her infectious enthusiam as the primary reason. Our floor won days 3 and 4. She sent another personal appeal to the senior attorneys requesting cash/check donations for the final day. At the end of day 4, were in 2nd place overall. Not sure how it will turn out and supporting the food bank is obviously more important than "winning." However, for those of you out there trying to figure out whether to be team captain or club president, here's something to reflect on in the above scenario: -- This individual has no position of importance in the company. She's "just" an employee who decided to get involved and make a difference. -- She gets nothing -- absolutely nothing, other than personal satisfaction and the satifaction of helping the charity -- for doing this or if we win. -- No one else even wanted this position, let alone was fighting for it. Yet, she took it on and ran with it. -- It was a "loser" project with a bunch of apathetic people who hadn't been motivated to do squat in over 5 years. -- She had no resources (cash, etc.) other than email and her own imagination and enthusiasm. And yet she alone is responsible not only for our floor possibly "winning" the competition but for our floor donating a whole bunch more food and money to the cause. The point of this is not to debate the merits or style of our office's competition. The point is that this young woman -- not much older than those of you looking to apply to USNA -- has showed what leadership is all about. It's more than having an elected position; it's about what you do with what you have. And I guarantee you that everyone on our floor -- and throughout the office -- is well aware of what she's done. It's truly amazing the difference one person can make. So, those of you out there who are "just" students in your school or members of your community, there are plenty of opportunities for you to lead. Find the job that no one else wants and make something of it. Turn the token fundraiser into a huge project. The possibilities are limitless.