Thursday, May 29, 2014

UIFI Reflection: Vinicius Rodrigues Aguiar, Theta Chi President

Vinicius Rodrigues Aguiar is a rising Junior and President of the Theta Chi Fraternity at Lehigh University. Vinicius pursues an honors degree in the IDEAS program—Integrated Degree in Engineering, Arts and Sciences. He also serves as a mentor in the Greek Emerging Leaders (GEM) program directed by the Office of Student Leadership Development. At the Theta Chi Fraternity, Vinicius has served as House Manager, Accreditation Chairman, and currently presides over the Fraternity until December of 2014. Vinicius is originally from Minas Gerais, Brazil, and envisions a career in the Americas as a leader in the Global Energy sector through his focus on energy engineering and the international political economy of energy markets.

“Recalculate your why.”

On May 17th, I arrived at the first session of the Undergraduate Interfraternity Institute (UIFI), and was greeted with this message. In all honesty, it initially came across with an overly philosophical undertone. A full semester of Fraternity presidency, collegiate worries and such had put me in a very pragmatic and time-maximizing state of mind—identify the task or challenge, strategizing, and acting quickly and appropriately. There was not much room for why in this mechanical, fast-paced routine. I had been mistaken in my priorities.

During my 5 days at the Institute I was challenged, I was moved, I refocused, and I recalculated my why. The program curriculum walked me through a process of self-discovery, of finding motivation, of defining true and meaningful values, and finally, of building a blueprint for my Chapter’s success. Above all, one message spoke very strongly to me: stop bandaging the wounds!

The truth is: Lehigh Greek leaders have used too many bandaids. The truth is: they are not healing the wounds.

I’ll throw hypocrisy out the window early, because I have done the same. Leading without a clear definition of your organization’s values often leads to aimless and ineffective bandaging of Fraternity and Sorority life problems that stem from much bigger wounds. I believe we struggle with this because we never take time to “recalculate the why.” Corny? Idealistic? Maybe. However, leaders of truly successful companies and organizations start asking why and grape a deeper understanding of purpose and direction than those who limit themselves to the trivialities of the “what.”

This message resonates the “Golden Circle” principle by Sinek, and it expands into the sphere of influence of Fraternity and Sorority life. Unlike companies and organizations that measure success by profits, social change, and policy outcomes, my Fraternity aims to create a premier learning experience for college men to grow to the best of their abilities. The impact of my Fraternity, when done right, goes beyond a successful career—it encompasses all facets of one’s social, professional, and academic growth and development. Then, one may raise the question: is Fraternity life done right at our community?

That is when the theme of recalculating your why and stopping the “bandage-politics,” if you’ll allow me the artistic license, comes at such a crucial time to Lehigh Greek life. I do not have the answer. I have ideas. Share what you think. Challenge each other. Arrive at the true meaning of what your organization means to you.

We all took an Oath of sorts. Behind the secrecy of your Ritual, there are rich and powerful values. Let’s start the Fall of 2014 recalculating the why.

For more information on the Undergraduate Interfraternity Institute, please go here