A Fish Out of Water

“Everybody is a genius. But, if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will spend its whole life believing that it is stupid.” – Einstein
This quote (and that picture) gives me chills. I’ll tell you why in a minute, but have you looked at your calendar lately?! We are near the end of August again, which for many in the world, means that its time to start school. Side note, this is an especially big year for me; my daughter AND my mom are starting school!
On one end, my baby girl  is starting her lifelong journey of formal education (she has already started her education prior to school). On the other end, my mother, the one who raised me to be the PhD that I am, is re-starting her formal education. Let’s not forget she already has some college, and she earned her PhD in the school of Hard Knocks. Hell I think she taught a few classes there too! But what does this have to do with those of you reading this?
I’m going to give you the same advice I give two of the most important women in my life. I wonder sometimes if people know how much I love what I do? I literally make money AND live my passion. So often people make those mutually exclusive goals. People say, “I love playing piano and making music, but I’m going to medical school – I have to make money somehow!” Or I love this one…”I’ll go be a business person and make a lot of money, then I’ll do what I want to do.” I have an idea, what you should do is sell that time machine you have. You know, the one that gives you the foresight that you will be alive long enough to spend your whole life working “and then” do what you really want to do. Let me suggest that you don’t have time for that. None of us do. And what happens in the midst of foregoing your true talent, passion, and genius? You get beat down, worn out, and spend your entire life trying to climb a tree, when you were meant to swim. The entire time believing that you are stupid, less than, or somehow broken.
There are philosophers studying engineering; engineers studying psychology; great architects studying to be economists; and business women studying pre-med. There is something to be said about being “well-rounded,” but I personally believe, as do the founders of the strengths philosophy, that the best of the best leaders and professionals are not well-rounded, they are sharp. They know that they are fish, and they swim better than the rest. They reject the belief that what they did well in high school (an infinitesimally small moment in time) or in some random summer camp has set their path in stone. The best of us are explorers, willing to take risks on themselves to find and live their true genius.
Going into this new semester, or job, or experience, know that it is a new day.
Ask yourself if you are pursuing what you know you should doing. Either affirm that and be excellent, or stop the madness, and go be who you are called to be.
P.S. – Ask me about resources that can help you start to figure that out…

Published by Dr. Michael D. Anthony

I currently serve as the Vice President of Student Affairs and Institutional Effectiveness at Prairie State College in Chicago Heights, IL. I served as an adjunct assistant professor at the University of Louisville and Loyola University in Chicago, IL. In order to expand my life's work beyond my day-to-day job, I started my own consulting work in leadership and diversity in 2008. I completed my Doctor of Philosophy in Educational Leadership and Organizational Development at the University of Louisville, where I also earned my Master of Arts degree in Higher Education Administration. I hold a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Management with a concentration in Marketing from North Carolina State University. A native of Charlotte, NC I am passionate about leadership development, organizational change, and the ability of effective leaders to transform their communities. During my professional career I have made it my personal goal to be a strong and vocal advocate for students, faculty, and staff, and have a life-long vision to empower others to affect positive change in their community. I live in Rochester, MN.

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