Welcome to a special column where Lexi Puev, a senior exercise science major at Dickinson State University, shares her insights and experiences.

Lexi Puev hosts a blog titled "Modify Your Mindset." The blog is an inspirational compilation of experiences, insights, and advice from a young woman who has pursued her passions throughout her life. Originally from Lincoln, Nebraska, Lexi moved to Cheyenne, Wyoming in her early teens, graduating from Central High School in 2021. The 21-year-old’s journey then brought her to Dickinson State University, where she received a volleyball scholarship and was accepted into the Theodore Roosevelt Honors Leadership Program.

Lexi helped her high school team reach the Wyoming state championship for the first time in a decade. Volleyball taught her discipline, dedication, and resilience. She envisions herself coaching in the future, eager to pass on the life lessons she has learned in the sport.

Over six summers, she volunteered at the Cheyenne Therapeutic Equestrian Center, assisting in therapy sessions with special needs children. Lexi's personal mission statement, "to inspire and support everyone around me to reach their goals," reflects her dedication to helping others.

Lexi believes a good leader should exhibit self-discipline, open-mindedness, consideration, and passion. She describes her leadership style as a blend of visionary and coaching approaches, integrating forward-thinking with nurturing and motivational qualities.

Lexi draws inspiration from Theodore Roosevelt and University of Nebraska volleyball coach John Cook. She had the opportunity to meet Cook at a volleyball camp she attended. “At camp, he instantly became one of my leadership role models. Cook has a lot of self-discipline and passion. He thrives at being considerate yet firm with his players and you can see that he cares about them. His modesty made an impact on me. Everyone knows him as one of the best volleyball coaches in the country, yet he cares as if it were his first year coaching; he is always trying to be better.” She advises others to look for role models with qualities they admire and aspire to emulate. “Like Cook, I aspire to be humble when needed and stay composed in stressful situations.”

Lexi warns against certain "dangerous leadership behaviors" that can undermine effective leadership, such as a lack of accountability and poor communication.

Lexi offers the following advice:

  1. Modify your mindset for positive change; believe in the transformative power of positive thinking. “Notice when you are giving yourself a negative thought and flip it right away.”
  2. Set small, achievable goals. “When I was a college freshman, I was lost. I didn’t leave time for me. I made small goals and wrote them on my mirror. Now, as a college senior, I feel so much happier.”
  3. Encourage yourself. Give yourself at least one compliment every day. “Sometimes there is no one around to compliment you, so why not compliment yourself? This is especially important in the morning. Compliment yourself on getting up with the first ring of the alarm. Set yourself up for a good day.”
  4. Surround yourself with supportive people. “You are going to need people for both the good and the bad days.”
  5. Use your mindset-modifying tools to inspire others. “Lead by example. I am an athlete so I know that one person’s attitude can impact the attitude of others on the team.”

Lexi’s message is clear: modify your mindset, lead by example, and make a positive impact on those around you.

To view this column online (p. 12),  please click here.

Debora Dragseth, Ph.D., is the Baker Boy Professor of Leadership at Dickinson State University. Her monthly column in the Heart River Voice offers practical solutions to common workplace issues.