Learn to let it go

Giving up on my inner control freak

Power is a beautiful and destructive tool.

In the past two years, I’ve watched the position of Torch editor-in-chief and conjectured that it can be either one of the most powerful or career-killing positions a student at this institution can hold.

As I come closer to my first Torch issue at the helm, I realize that the balance of power this position holds, while imposing, is not my first concern.

I’ve been told many times that “this is a learning experience” in relation to working for a college newspaper. I felt like I had journalism figured out when I came in, and realized I was wrong. I was too nice.

In 2012-13, I learned about the ins and outs of the business and how to hold healthy skepticism.

In 2013-14, I began to learn life lessons from a source with whom I began to work very closely. The current editor-in-chief, Alex Wittman, has taught me more about life than she would care to tell you.

On Feb. 1, she took a “trust fall.” The infamous shooting event that occurred at the Venlo Apartments took place when she was in Grand Rapids at a journalism conference.

The editor staff and various reporters caught her. It was a brave and bold move in what was perhaps the biggest news event of her career at the Torch to let go of immediate control, but she let the responsibility fall into the arms of those she appointed.

Had I been in her position, my staff would have found that I am not yet that brave. The control freak in me would have lost it.

Now that I see the editor staff, I realize that it is imperative that I learn that lesson. I have learned that, in order to be a successful leader, I must trust those whom I have appointed.

The constant I thought I recognized was that somebody was teaching me these things. Again, I was wrong. It’s the physical document itself that teaches.

The incoming class of editors is a group of people that I must be able to trust to catch me in a trust-fall situation. They’re brilliant people, which puts my mind at ease, but I’m still learning to let go of my mental aversion to distributing control.

I’m not power hungry, but I like my organized mess, where only I know how to decipher and accomplish my goals.

If Alex Wittman has taught me anything, it’s to approach the position of editor-in-chief with the attitude of “we,” not “I.”