First up for our Shero Spotlights is Leah Maxey, former OU CHAARG ambassador, current CHAARG Chapter Leadership Consultant [CLC] and soon-to-be yoga instructor and registered dietitian! When I think of Leah, I think of a walking embodiment of a #Girlboss leader [see previous aforementioned leadership roles]. Leah was my ambassador for the majority of the time that I was involved with CHAARG exec and over that year, I got to see first-hand how driven and motivated she is in every aspect of her life, so it was only right to feature her for my first spotlight!
What would you say your greatest accomplishment was as CHAARG ambassador?
I think that I did a really good job of strengthening our community within the chapter. CHAARG had been there for two or three semesters already and I think we had a lot of people there that had been there for a while, but then I just felt like my senior year, the community was just so much stronger and so many more girls wanted to show up. So many more girls found a home in CHAARG and I don’t know if that was just me or, even just the whole exec team, but I think that definitely was a huge accomplishment.
On the other hand, what was the greatest obstacle that you faced and how did you deal with that and overcome it?
I think that being a leader just teaches you a lot about working with other people … Learning to work with different leadership styles in general is difficult because you can’t handle everyone the same way. So, I think that definitely taught me a lot and I just overcame it by always seeking out help with my Chapter Leadership Consultant or even like Sarah Clem [from Team CHAARG] is always still willing to talk about leadership development. Just not giving up and trying to meet my team where they were and knowing that if one leadership style doesn’t work there’s like a million other ways to approach it.
How does being a chapter ambassador compare to now being a CLC and leading a new exec team in a different way?
The roles are just so different. Being an ambassador of a successful chapter has allowed me to relay what I did to other chapters to hopefully have other chapters see success the way that OU CHAARG did … So I work with five teams now, which is insane, and they’re all different, every ambassador is different. I think that not even just being ambassador, but also being on the founding exec team when I was an event coordinator, I’ve just seen it all; I’ve seen a chapter start, I’ve seen an unsuccessful recruitment, I’ve seen a successful recruitment, I’ve seen four weekly workouts be canceled in one semester, I just feel like I do have a lot of experience that I try to relay as much as possible to my teams. One tactic I always had when I was ambassador was trying to think of what could go wrong so that we could prepare for it ahead of time and I think that is a good mentality to have. Not to be negative, but so that you can be prepared. So, I try to have my ambassadors ask those questions at their meetings and talk through those things with their team so that everything runs smoothly.
If you saw one of your teams or team members getting burnt out, or losing interest or motivation, how would you approach that situation?
Burnout is tough because one thing we work on at Team CHAARG is the difference between burnout and being overwhelmed … But, I always bring them back to their “why.” So, if their why is foundational of why they’re on exec and why they do want to continue leading this movement and why they are so passionate about it, then I think other things just need to be adjusted and it’s not that they’re burnt out it’s that they just maybe aren’t allocating their time correctly. So, I’ll usually like have a one-on-one call with them and just talk through it and try to meet them where they are, see what their concerns are and how I can help them through those.
Was CHAARG the first time you became interested in yoga?
No, my freshman year of college, before CHAARG was even there, a friend that I met through nutrition [classes] was like, “Hey, let’s go to this yoga class,” and I was like, okay, I’ve never done yoga in my life, so why not? So, I would occasionally go to classes at OU’s Ping Recreational Center and then I went to Athens Yoga here and there and I never was super serious about it until recently.
What does your yoga practice mean to you?
Yoga to me, has always just brought me back home and shows you that life is not as serious as we make it out to be. For an hour, you can just really be there for yourself and my philosophy now being at the studio that I’m at has really transformed. Yoga to me, used to be a workout and then sometimes I would be pissed off if I didn’t sweat in class and now it’s like, sure yoga is a workout, definitely, but it’s so much more than that. It brings you back to how you feel mentally … If you’re not in that right headspace in class, you’re not going to be in that right headspace at home.
How do you hope to use yoga as an instructor to make a difference in other people’s lives?
Well, one thing that Citizen Yoga, which is the studio that I’m doing my certification through, started as a way to translate a message of suicide prevention. The founder lost her sister to suicide and so she wanted to use this space to show people that you’re never alone. Citizen also focuses on alignment which, after being in an alignment-based studio for a couple of months now is insane to think that people do yoga without this focus, because It’s so much harder when you don’t focus on alignment. There’s been so many times where I’ve been in a pose, and I’m like, this hurts, but when you have that foundation of alignment, it just makes the practice so much easier and then you can really focus on a lot of other things. So, I think that has made me more mindful of my body … I think yoga helps people in different ways, but my overall approach is just to help people show up for themselves and take that time for themselves because everyone really deserves it.
What is one piece of advice that you would give to girls who are maybe wanting to become leaders in whatever organizations or jobs that they may be in but are a little bit hesitant to take on that risk?
You’re never going to grow if you don’t try. It’s scary, I mean, I can remember my first leadership opportunities in college, but nobody wants to see you fail. So, if you do have these opportunities, there’s always going to be somebody there to help you or to guide you … I think a lot of people forget that leadership opportunities are a place to grow and so the way you do something right now is not necessarily the right way to do it and you have to be open to learning … My philosophy is always like, the worst they can say is no so like, you know, the worst thing you can do is not try.
Make sure to check out my Instagram to enter Leah’s giveaway!