Charisma and Positivity
May 17, 2023
Meet the mentors: The Saunders
The week from May 8th to 12th, the couple Saunders mentored the young adults at Cumorah Academy. While on campus, the students had a good time learning more about Charisma and Positivity, both through theory and by their examples.
An Ongoing Journey
Seth and Amber are from the United States, but throughout their lives, they moved 18 times in total, 10 to different cities, and one to neighboring Mexico. The couple has been married for 27 years, they met at American Heritage at Ricks College (now known as Brigham Young University-Idaho) and married in the Bountiful Temple four and half months later. They are parents of three sons, two older married and the youngest serving a mission in Omaha Nebraska.
Jobs and Hobbies
Amber studied culinary and enjoyed baking, serving others, and working with youth. Seth earned a bachelor’s in Communications, an MBA IN Global Management, and a Master’s of Arts in Organizational Management. He spent most of his professional career in higher education serving in several capacities including Vice President and President of many universities. He has also taught at BYU-Idaho for over 13 years and enjoys dancing in his free time. Check out the interview with the mentors!
The Importance of Good Values
Cumorah Academy: You guys talked about the importance of having values and how they have been guiding you throughout your life. How does having good values helped you to be a better leader?
Seth: First of all, a good leader leads by example. It means that if you want to have a good team, if you want to have a successful company, if you want to be a successful leader, you must demonstrate. You must know what your values are, and those values can come in a lot of ways. They can come from the experiences, they can come from beliefs, they can come from what you’ve learned. They can come from interactions with other people who may value things differently.
So, as a leader, have to know what those values are because you need people to trust you. And if they see a leader who says one thing and does another thing, that trust starts to go away. You need to make sure that when you’re not around as a leader, those things can still take place that the company, the team, whatever can move forward. I really believe that trust is really the bridge between humans, and trust is built on values and what you value is what you are.
Amber: I would say in all of my positions that I’ve had and even as a mom, the values are what people see and that’s what they come to expect of you. In my jobs, everybody knew that I would do my very best and that I was always honest. No matter what I would say the truth. I became very trustworthy. The trust is there, and you can definitely you know, that just builds upon your character and who you are.
Seth was known in the industry in the education industry as being a person of integrity, and so when he spoke about leaving a huge job that paid a big, huge bunch of money because they were unethical. It was because of his integrity; he knew that what was happening was not right and he couldn’t support that. The values and what we stand for are important in every sense of who we are as a person.
Hard Experiences Benefits
Cumorah Academy: You have moved many times. For some people, moving to a new place can be a hard experience. How can these people benefit even when they struggle with this kind of situation?
The Need for Movement
Seth: Even though we’ve moved a lot, every move is hard. What we have found is and what’s interesting, Amber didn’t move even once as a child. She was born and went all the way through High School. Yeah, same house. I moved many times. But what’s interesting is my parents moved many times. But what’s even more interesting is my patriarchal blessing says I will move many times. And yet it says in every time that I move, we will know where we’re supposed to go.
I think when you’re moving and preparing and having to fight those emotions, first, let yourself feel your emotions. It’s OK to feel sad, scared, nervous, maybe anxious because you’re leaving something that you may be comfortable with. You like your friends, family, and church, and you’re going to something that might be very, very new. But at the same time, try not to forget that faith and understanding should bring some level of excitement.
What happened to us? We started to learn how to take anxiety and turn it into excitement. We would learn how to take the confusion and turn it into confidence. And that’s what our boys saw. Again, it’s never easy to just get your stuff and move, but I would do it all over again. If I look back, that’s one thing I would absolutely do for sure.
Amber: Like Seth said, my whole life was spent raised in Montana in the same house, same school. My kids haven’t had the same schools. I would say that’s why I was always willing to move as we’ve been married. How do I do it? There are two main points for me that I keep in mind. First is bloom where you’re planted. So, where you are, make the very best of it. Make sure you are involved. Make sure you go to church. Also, make sure when there are activities, even though you don’t want to go to activities, make sure you do them and not just in church, but in the community.
If there’s a parade, go to a parade. If there are fireworks, go to the fireworks. Put your roots down. And you will be able to fit in, believe. Secondly, if the mom is happy, the whole family is happy, and even if it was super hard trying to be happy and trying to be excited about a move, I’ve always made sure I was happy and then it really resonates in my family. As I said, outgoing and positive, then the whole family will be that way. If you’re miserable, the whole family is miserable.
Overcoming Lack of Positivity
Cumorah Academy: Talking about positivity, have you ever struggled with a lack of positivity? How did you overcome this?
Take Your Time
Amber: Yes, yeah, I think. Positivity is super important in everyone’s life, but it is something that must be worked on. It’s not a characteristic that comes easy to most people, and it doesn’t even come easy. Thinking back, I was overweight when we moved from Chicago to Virginia Beach, and I knew I wasn’t going to be happy if I wasn’t exercising and trying to work on myself. I just had to be positive in my own mindset. That I could get up and exercise that I could get myself into a routine that I could stick to that routine. And it was. It was really hard going from being in Chicago and then moving to Virginia Beach.
But I knew that if I could just get up in the morning, get the kids out the door, and drive back alone, then I could go exercise after that, and I could focus on myself. You must. Take time for yourself when you are trying to be positive and when you’re trying to make yourself a better person. You must take time for yourself, and you must sometimes step back and reassess and then go at it again. As moms, most of us put ourselves on the back burner. We’re the last ones that get taken care of. I could make myself a better person because if I was a better person then everybody would a better person, right?
Charisma and Positivity: A New Perspective
Seth: I would say that absolutely there are many times when there’s not positivity and sometimes it’s a choice and other times it’s just based on circumstances. But it’s very similar. I equate “how do we feel about positivity and things in our life” with the light bulb. When you turn it on, it’s on.
If you leave it on and never turn it off, at some point it dies. You’ve got to know when to turn it off because you have to recharge yourself. Have to kind of take a step back. And so yeah, there are times in a variety of situations, whether it’s in church not feeling like maybe you don’t feel like you’re doing your calling the best you can. Or you don’t like it. You don’t like the people you work with, so they’re going to be times you’re down.
There are going to be times at work when maybe you didn’t meet a deadline, didn’t get to hire the person you wanted, didn’t get a promotion, and things like that. Do you move forward? Of course, you can move forward, not being positive, like that’s OK, but hopefully, the goal is you’re moving forward and you’re getting to a point where you can feel joy, happiness, and peace. You can be more positive about the situation, but it’s not healthy. To be on all the time you will burn out.
Leadership in Everyday Life
Cumorah Academy: You both have been working as leaders in different ways. How have those different kinds of experiences been helpful to you individually and as a couple at home and at work?
Seth: I would just say first, every human is different. And learning how to work with different people in different situations is very important. I will give an example. I was the golf coach for the girls’ team. And I am a father of three boys, and I’ve never had young women. And so, I had to lay on Amber to help me to understand them. “Why are they so emotional?” (laugh) And just trying to understand helped me to become a better coach. That led to success because then I was able to understand young women. I would understand how to talk to them. I would say that you must be willing to learn and teach. Amber was willing to teach, and I was to learn. If you’re willing to do both, you will see every aspect of your life has a good influence on all the other parts for sure.
Amber: Leadership within a couple is super important. You support each other and listen. If we have recommendations for each other, it’s super important to communicate that, because it brings unity to the marriage. And if you have unity in your marriage and in your life that you’re going to have unity in so many other aspects too, with your job, with your callings, anything. It’s something that can be worked on and obtained if there’s a desire.
A Good Leader Is a Follower
Seth: I would add that great leaders know how to follow. If you feel you always need to be in the front, that doesn’t make a good leader. A good leader knows how to follow. That’s the same in just like what Amber was talking about in the family. It’s the same at work. It’s the same in the church. The same on a sports team. And the same on whatever. You don’t have always to be in front.
Amber: The Church has recently emphasized that young people need to lead their own activities. That’s a good thing. We only need to guide them, teach them how to organize things, have an agenda, and give suggestions if necessary. It’s just teaching and letting them put it into action.
Developing Charisma and Positivity
Cumorah Academy: Which advice would you give to someone who believes that they lack charisma? Is it something that people can develop?
Seth: I would say every human has charisma, whether they realized it or not, and once they understand that they will see themselves differently. It’s less about trying to say I need to be charismatic or that I need to find charisma. It’s to look at the whole picture and start to identify and speak: “What are ways that I already have it? Do I feel confident?” Confidence is part of charisma. “I empathetic? Do I understand other people and how they might feel?” That’s also charisma, you just need to identify it. There may be art and then people.
I think people usually stereotype charisma as expressing happiness, energy, enthusiasm, and so on. They’re charismatic characteristics and are all part of it. If you want to develop them, great, but don’t just think that is what it is, because it is a lot of other things. And so, everybody has it. Maybe we want to focus on improving our charisma through how to bring more energy to a meeting, or how to be more enthusiastic about what we are doing and bring positivity into a group meeting if we want to do that. To achieve that, then you will talk to people, observe them doing that, and take down notes, ask questions. But there are a lot of things that take go into account, to be a charismatic leader.
Amber: I don’t love to speak up and to be in front of people all the time, but it’s something that if the opportunity is there and the opportunity must be there, then I’m willing to do it. I love to sit back and just watch people and see how they interact with each other and that’s my quiet confidence. I like to watch and learn how better to interact with people.
Sometimes charismatic people if they’re full-blown going all the time, can be overwhelming to a lot of other people that are completely opposite. We can be charismatic in so many ways, we don’t necessarily need to be happy and smiley all the time.
It’s there are others with other ways to be charismatic. Don’t be afraid to learn from the person next to you. Oftentimes, we always are looking up or looking out because we’re looking for somebody to teach and guide us. Oftentimes that person may be closer to you than you think just being aware of who’s around. Maybe the person that you don’t know at all has something to offer. That’s important.
The Sauders have been very inspiring mentors during their time at Cumorah Academy. We hope you learned something through this interview and that you can apply these principles in your lives.