Merge Master

Merge master is called master for a reason. It takes cunning, precision and surgical accuracy. None of which I claim to have. And yet, I go down in history as the official Spence merge master of 2010-2011. Merger, a variation of the classic college campus game Murder, requires participants to whisper the word merge into someone else’s ear so that no innocent standbyers can hear it. When I was named merge master, I was as surprised as everyone else. And believe me, everyone was surprised. Because how could someone as oblivious, unconcerned and uncommitted to the game as I was win? I heard them laugh at the explanation: The top three winners were all graduating and the person who had my name had moved to Minnesota only a few days ago. As the nonwinning winner I assumed an unexpected responsibility. I reluctantly realized that I couldn’t remove myself from a history that had insisted on creating a spot for me. So how would I step into a leadership role that didn’t fit?
My new list of responsibilities included matching every student’s name to another student’s and making sure everyone knew their potential victim. On the first day I got to school early and sat with my list of 200+ names, eager to begin. I was not expecting the difficulty I encountered. Girls were lined up in front of me for hours waiting for a name, some too late to get their name before they were merged. Girls were tardy for first period and skipped lunch to find me. At first, the craze of the game stunned me. But upon reflection, I have identified what I would do to make it better and less crazy. Like having an alphabetized list of names. As the game progressed, I became a better merge master. I soon knew names without having to look at the list. And I knew that instead of giving out index cards, I could whisper a name in an ear. Although I found myself wishing I could adapt my intense merger role to better suit my work schedule, I nonetheless grew into the leadership position. I realized that I have to both use what I have to fill a leadership role and also learn to develop and grow the skills that are necessary to become a successful leader. The game ended successfully because I became more effective and organized, skills I had initially lacked. I learned to evolve and adapt myself to the game.
Afterwards, I did wonder how I had managed. Interestingly, I had applied personal traits not typically associated with strong leadership, including my sense of humor. When girls would come to me to complain that first day about being late for class, I would make a casual, apologetic joke, that would send them away with a smile. Not only have I learned how to rise to the occasion of leadership positions, I have learned how to use what I have to take on unexpected roles.





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