Did Robin Thicke Get it Right?

For those who follow this blog, and for those who know me, you recognize my love of music – and in particular the spoken word. Songs tell stories, make points, and teach as well as any book does. Robin Thicke, in his second album The Evolution of Robin Thickehas is a song titled “Everything I Can’t Have.” It’s actually one of my favorite songs by Thicke, as much for the message as for the Latin American influence of the music – complete with horns and a salsa rhythm you can’t help but dance to. This song starts with this verse:

I want a fresh girl
I wanna drink my drink
I wanna get high
I can’t have everything
I wanna be rich
Never work at all
And sleep all day
And I wanna see it all
Oh I want, I want everything
I want everything I can’t have

If I am honest, throughout my career I have tried to have it all. I want to be young and old, eat what I want and stay in shape, say what I want but hold the respect of everyone around me, be an all-star student in class and super involved on campus, be single and married, and have a family but maintain all my freedoms. And I have seen those around me, students, new professionals, entrepreneurs, and family all try to do the same thing – though they may not know it. Students that want to be the President of the Student Government Association and also travel abroad the semester after they get elected. New husbands who want to hang out how they hung out before marriage, and with the same people. People who hate their job, but don’t want to do what’s needed to find a new one.

you_cant_have_everythingThis morning while listening to POTUS Politics on Sirius XM (as is my custom during my 45 minute commute from Rogers Park), there was an employer talking with the host, Michael Smerconish, about good paying jobs (20/hr) that were going unfilled. Why? Because people were a) failing drug tests at alarming rates of 40% or more, or b) they didn’t want to work non-traditional hours or on weekends. It reinforced to me how some of us want everything, but are unwilling to give anything. Sometimes it means giving up your preferred schedule; sometimes it means giving up a relationship; sometimes it means giving up on immediate gratification for what will come later in life; sometimes it means choosing and prioritizing one dream or goal over the other. If you don’t, you end up in debt, alone, or always on your way to something, but never quite there. At the end of the day you really can’t have everything…

cant_do_everything_sombraBut at the same time it is that drive for everything that has served as a motivator for me in many aspects of my life. And let me be clear, I don’t mean “stuff.” I am talking about experiences and lifestyles. Stuff comes with that at times, but when I talk about having everything, I am not simply talking about materials goods. I wanted to work full-time and earn a PhD; so I did. I wanted to earn that PhD by the time I was 30 if not sooner; so I did. I wanted to start a family while doing that; so I did. I wanted to buy a house, even though my credit wasn’t great; so I did. But as I reflect back on what I did, I remember what I either didn’t do, or deferred in the process. I remember the sacrifices I had to make, or the blows to my pride I had to take as a result of my wanting for everything. So what does that mean for those reading this blog? I say dream big – know what you want, and go get it. AND, while you’re doing that, realize that this is the real world, and that you will have to make course corrections, give up on some things, and find ways to prioritize along the way. Live in the possibilities, assuming abundance of time and energy – but know that life has a way of setting you back. That’s OK – be resilient, keep moving forward, and be driven by everything you can’t have.

Please, share this with someone who is trying to have or do everything, but not quite getting it right.

Dr. Anthony

Political Discourse The Right Way

Sometimes I come across a regular, common sense post on social media that is profound because of it’s simplicity. This is one such post – that is pasted below in its entirety – from one of my former students at the University of Louisville. Thank you Tyler (AKA Fish) – for schooling us on how it should be done. And let me add that this process doesn’t have to be laborious, it just takes longer than the few seconds it takes most people to word vomit on their page. Don’t be lulled by the thought that you have to respond immediately to anything; you don’t! Think before you speak, even when you’re not speaking…

Think Before You SpeakFrom Tyler Lance Walker Gill on Facebook:

“This is my advice for everyone when it comes to getting involved in political discourse, which I believe we all should do: The next time you are tempted to watch the “news”, don’t. Instead, go turn on C-Span (1 or 2). You’ll notice the extremely boring nature of this programming. You’ll also get to hear all the bullshit without the “media” filter, straight from the horses’ mouths. This, my friends, is politics. Beware: this is no place to find truth or facts of any kind. After you’ve gone straight to the source, do your best to find a good secondary source or two – just be careful, and pay attention to where their money comes from; all it takes is a google search to find out whether or not a source should be trusted. Now, see if you can find a good study reinforcing what you heard from our representatives. Find something that uses math and numbers to reinforce findings. Politics should not really be entertaining, and this method of ingesting information is not fun. It’s actually a lot more like homework. But, you have to stop trying to find something that sounds good to you and reinforces your opinions, and go searching for some facts. This is the only way to really get involved in the discussion, and I promise, you’ll feel empowered by information, and you’ll find yourself caring a lot more about whatever issues you find most important. When we all know the facts, we can stop wasting our time arguing over our opinions – two very different things. Then maybe, if we’re lucky, we can more easily hold our representatives accountable.”

Please, share this with someone that may need it!

Dr. Anthony

Remedial/Developmental Education…Or Not

The Chronicle of Higher Education
The Chronicle of Higher Education (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

Some Florida Colleges Plan for New Choice for Remedial Education: Opting Out – Students

I like how this particular institution is using data to drive this conversation. Data have to point the way to solutions, like a compass. But it can’t stop there.

Now that I work in the two-year college space, I know first hand how BIG a conversation this is! I wonder about what several stakeholder groups have to say about this: faculty, students, parents, and tax-payers. These developmental courses cost, many don’t earn students’ credit, and in some places they still aren’t preparing students to succeed at the next step. There are financial aid implications, time to degree implications, and student esteem and efficacy implications. I know, as is the case at my college, that the Achieving the Dream network is doing great work in getting colleges to start addressing these questions, identifying these critical data points, and using evidence to make better decisions.

Please, share with someone you think needs it.

Regards,

Dr. Anthony

12 Things Killer Students Do Before Five

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This post was inspired by a recent article in the Money & Careers section of US News & World Report found here: http://money.usnews.com/money/careers/articles/2012/08/08/12-things-killer-employees-do-before-noon.

Here is my list of 12 Things Killer Students Do Before Five. I changed the time to 5, because come on – ain’t nobody got time for getting up early unless they have to! You will see some similarities in theme and practice to what killer employees do, but realistically, start and end of the day for students can shift dramatically from a 9-5 work day. So I will shift some of the premise of this article just a bit.

1. They plan how to use their FULL day / including time between classes. Particularly as an undergraduate, there was so much time I wasted. I always said “I don’t have time to __________.” Until one day I was challenged to write out my day. Even as a type A, high “J” (on the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator) I was really bad at realizing why I couldn’t seem to keep up. I wanted to work out, go to class, be involved, and hang out with friends and just couldn’t find the time. Then when I wrote it out – a light bulb went off. That time from 2-4 when I didn’t have class, I would just chill it away, not intentionally, just because that was easiest to do. Rethink that – chill smarter. Use that time to study, or follow-up on emails, or check on family (see #8 below for what I’m talking about) and then you’ll realize you won’t need extra hours in a day..

2011-12-15-productivity

2. They don’t pull “all-nighters.” Yes I have done it, yes you will do it if you haven’t already. But these should really be the rare exception, never the rule. In other words, this should not be your strategy for success. Rest [good rest] is important. It helps you be clear, focused, and less of an ass the next day. Remember, if you get thrown off one day, it starts a snowball effect. Not to mention the things you can’t control which will throw a wrench in your schedule. You may not get an entire 8 hours every night, but you can try!

3. They avoid hitting the booze. Saying “It’s five o’clock somewhere” and laughing about it only works like once. Every other time you are bordering on having a problem. I love to get a little “nip” as Ray Charles would say, but really? Practice being a functional and responsible adult during the daytime. It will be good practice for if/when you do start the 9-5 grind. Even if you don’t plan to work 9-5, many other folks do, and you will want to be in a good head space working with those folks.

4. They exercise. I don’t care when you do it, just do it. I feel a bit convicted about this one, because I don’t do it as much now, but I did in college! Find time, your own time, and get it done. I actually felt like I made the hours in the longer when I worked out. I was sharper, felt better, and made better choices all around.

5. They identify and practice a ritual. Just like in the Jensen article, I recommend doing something everyday (other than your exercise routine) that gives you some “me” time. That “me” time is critical; at least it was for me. As someone who typically extraverts all over the place, it helped me to sit with my thoughts, and challenged me to remember why I was doing what I was doing. College is such a transitory period in the grand scheme of things, so whatever your ritual is, use it to center and steady you.

6. They eat…good food. Do I have to explain this? Of course I do. Eating gives you energy right; but it can be a recipe (pun definitely intended) for disaster if you don’t watch it! As someone who struggled with my weight growing up, and as an African American southerner, food was and is LOVE. You eat when around friends, you eat when you’re happy, you eat when you’re sad. In college you have meal plans, abundant fast food, and loads of free food every freaking week – so it can get out of control. The Freshman 15 is quite real. So pay attention – I mean you don’t need to be a prude; continue to honor your culture and traditions, but remember your body is the only one you get. Putting on weight is easier than taking it off. And for goodness sake you shouldn’t eat only at the end of the day! I did that a lot too, which really does cause problems. If it’s 5pm and you haven’t eaten, go get a sandwich or something!

7. They arrive to classes and meeting on time. The vice president of a large company once said to me, when you are late it tells everyone else in the room that your time is more important than theirs. Don’t be late. You miss out, you look lazy, and you lose respect. It’s your schedule, master it and be on time. I learned this the hard way just before entering my senior year in high school. I was in Army JROTC at Olympic High School in Charlotte, NC. As the new battalion commander it was my responsibility to oversee set up for the commencement ceremony with the rest of the cadets. Needless to say, when I showed up late, my normally gentle and caring Master Sergeant Benjamin Davis let.me.have.it. I never felt so small in my life. Not because he just chewed a quarter of my ass off, but because I knew he was right. Being late was not an option, and no excuse I presented was worthy. Don’t be late.

8. They check in. College is about endurance – it’s not “hard” I don’t think, it takes persistence. How better to persist than by leaning on those closest to you. When you are most busy, most overwhelmed, and most behind the eight ball is when you need your closest allies most. But you can’t just call on them when you are in trouble – you have to cultivate those relationships. You do that daily by checking in with the people you care about, and doing so often. This includes your family, roommates, friends, sorority sisters, pen pals, etc.

9. They tackle the big projects first. Not much need to explain this, but I have found that when I do this (in school and work) I get more done. Think about it – whenever you start your day, you tend to be most motivated, most focused, and most optimistic. Use that time to knock out the hard stuff, knowing your reward will be the low hanging fruit. Going after the low hanging fruit first (checking emails, sending out an agenda, making a few phone calls) will lull you into the false sense of accomplishment. Stephen Covey differentiates between the “urgent” and “important” stuff in your life. Thrive in the important, and manage the urgent.

10. They avoid too many meetings. I was very very, very, very, very involved in college. That was the bane of my existence my second year (where I earned a .6 GPA that first semester). No that is not a typo – that is a 0.6, just less than 1.0. Let me tell you, you have to WORK to get a .6! I was doing too much…of the wrong thing. I was “busy” sure, but busy doing what? Being over involved is what. And over involved is relative. That same load my senior year and “super” senior year (5th year), gave me an incredible amount of focus and purpose. But you have to work up to that – don’t spend too much time in meetings, clubs, organizations, at the expense of your academics.

11. They allot time for reflection. As I mentioned in #5 above, reflection is clutch! And this can be done a number of ways, so please don’t give me the “I don’t like to write my thoughts” line. You can reflect a lot of ways. Talking with a close friend, being quite, blogging (which feels to me a bit different from journaling), working out, listening to music or using your hands to create something. John Maxwell (one of hero’s) says in his book Thinking for a Change, that reflective thinking is like a crock pot for the mind…it let’s your thoughts simmer until they are ready. That’s sexy, so do it. And really, it does go very fast. I remember my time in college (undergrad and grad) so vividly. I’m only 33, yet I’m an entire 10 years removed from my undergrad experience. And the things that have happened in that 10 years are significant (marriage, child, buying houses, PhD, changing jobs, moving, tragedies, etc.). Appreciate this season of your life, and make sure you are learning the most from it. You’ll never have the benefit of your current perspective again.

12. They take breaks and honor flexibility. Too much rigidity in your schedule can be a real problem. You need time to shirk responsibility, you need time to just let it all go. You also need time to be in a funk, or get sick, or just be lazy. Your body and mind will tell you when it needs a break, and you’d better listen to it. Don’t schedule your day so tight that there is no flexibility. I did that my first two years, thinking I was being efficient. We all now know how that ended (ahem, .6). But we are not machines, we don’t perform within specified ranges day in and day out. We just don’t. So it would behoove you to plan for “stoppage.” Just like a rubber band that is pulled too tight snaps, or a rod bent too far breaks; so will you break. Be flexible, and be better.

2009-06-17-productivity-today

Please, share this with someone who needs it!

Regards,

Dr. Anthony

Cost of College

Has the Cost of College Reached a Tipping Point? – Head Count – The Chronicle of Higher Education.

I’m going to continue to use this blog to educate and empower students and their families as it relates to the college choice process. The Chronicle of Higher Ed is a great resource, but I will do the heavy lifting for you:) Cost of attendance continues to be a concern. Educate yourself. Use your money to influence the kind of experience you want to have. Let your dollars to the talking, and hold colleges accountable for the education they provide.

Please, share this with someone who needs to see it.

Regards,

Dr. Anthony

Let Them Lead

look-kittens-sometimes-experience-is-the-best-teacher

In 2010 I contributed to a newsletter within one of NASPA’s (National Association of Student Personnel Administrators) knowledge communities. The Student Leadership Knowledge educates and connects leadership educators within colleges across the US and abroad. I wrote a piece that implores practitioners to let students lead, understanding that the best practice is experience. I am continually reminded of that as I work day-to-day with students who need the experience (for that future job as much as for anything else), and administrators who continue to struggle to let go. I would not be who I am today if my mentors and advisors didn’t get out of the way and let me make mistakes, try new things, and learn through leading. I’m attaching a copy of that publication in the “free stuff” section of my site. I hope you enjoy and share!

Only Light Can Do That

kovvers-love-drives-out-hate_052612013345

As we move past yet another 9/11, I am reminded of the relevance of this quote in both my life and in my work.

Much has changed since my last post. I have been blessed to have my family move up with me finally, we have found an amazing condo in Rogers Park in Chicago, I am affirmed daily in the work I do at my new job, and we have began to find a new spiritual home on the South end of Chicago. I wanted to quickly post this as a reminder that despite all the horrible despair that we face day to day (crime, death, genocide, hunger, poverty, discrimination, fear, depression, etc.) that these things can only be overcome through our commitment to shine light in the darkest corners of our existence. What is really cool is that we don’t have to do it alone. I was reminded by a friend yesterday who was in a dark place, that the universe has a way of conspiring to support and lift us up when we most need it. That’s really a fancy way of saying “we” as individuals decided to take a moment to shine light in the lives of others. What is the light? It’s a smile, a phone call, a flower left on a desk, a perfectly timed joke when you’re not in a joking mood. Lights’ natural inclination is not to hide, but to shine. Only when we prevent it from doing so, do we find ourselves surrounded by darkness. Dark thoughts, dark people, and dark situations.

In my work as an educator and diversity advocate, I find it very easy to be consumed by the darkest actions and thoughts of others. It is during that time I seek the darkness to fight back – thinking its the only way to combat such persistent ugliness that surrounds us. In fact, that is the worst possible action I could take. Darkness is only permitted to exist in the absence of light, not the other way around. So I remember that, as I start each day, trying to bring light and love into the work I do. From the smallest conversation, to the biggest cultural shifts we need to make – I will be positive, and try to use my light to chase away the darkness.

Dr. Anthony

Related articles

Will You Die Young or Live Forever…or both?

Life is too short

At the ripe old age of 32, I often think about my life, life’s work, and purpose on this earth. I often tell folks who complain / who wait / who fear / and who never get off the starting blocks that life is too short, and life is too long to do something that you don’t love / to worry / to fear / to never start something, anything. So I have committed my life to helping others live their life – no matter how short or long it may be. At the same time I try to remind myself to not be afraid, go learn, play, work hard, create, build….because if I leave tomorrow I want to be proud of what’s left. And if I live to be 110 I want to fill each day with purpose and vitality.

My ability to do this is rooted in my intimate knowledge of myself. I know what I am good at, I believe in my talents, and I maximize my opportunities because of that. I know of a few other folks that I believe did this too. Jonathan Larson died just before his 37th birthday. The Pulitzer Prize winner of the musical Rent lived his life while he was here. His friends and loved ones talked about his passion for his work, and that it excited everyone around him and resulted in art that no one else could have produced. He died young, but he will live forever. At 56 years old, inventor and entrepreneur Steve Jobs died. He built a company and a product that would be so pervasive that it created its own vocabulary. Its products would be synonymous with entire product categories. Next time you fly on any major airline listen to if they say “turn off all mobile devices; that includes mp3 players, tablets, etc,” or if they say “turn off all mobile devices, that includes iPods, iPads, etc.” See what I mean? Because he spent his time alive building and creating; he died young, but will live forever.

So it seems to me that the only course of action for any of us, is to live – and live with purpose and direction. Learning about who you are, and why you are is a never-ending journey, and one that you either need to start or continue, on a regular basis. With the recent creation of our tech startup Project Recreate, we want to help people start that journey. We want you to learn to master yourself, so that every day you live is a day you create, and thrive, and succeed. So check us out, and be sure to follow along as we help people re-create themselves.

Check out our vision for the new startup at http://projectrecreate.com

Why Not a Video Game?

Sign up to play the demo and give us feedback at http://projectrecreate.com

My good friend and now co-founder Cole Morrison snatched my attention with that question. Actually there was more to it. He said:

“If a Good Book, Song, or Movie Can Change a Person’s Life…Why Not A Video Game?”

Well why not indeed? Video games have all the amazing elements needed to capture the imagination, engage people in learning, and teach people new skills – if done properly. Unfortunately, many games now focus way too much on addiction, quick revenue generation, and an obsession with profit at any cost. Patricia Hernandez from one of the top gaming blogs Kotaku gets it, and talks about why she is rallying for shorter games.

So, as Cole and I are both gamers, and we both are fascinated with personal growth and development, why not combine the two?! That’s just what we have done. In our first adventure RPG, Project Recreate, we have designed a game that has all the elements gamers want to see in a game, and one that will teach you more about your personality and how to put that to work in the real world. So you play, you learn, you put it into action. Play again if you’d like, the storyline adapts as you play so that you can learn about different aspects of personality as you play. We have no intention of you becoming addicted. In fact, if you are addicted, we hope that you can see that there is a “hero” in all of us, we just have to learn how to tap into our superpower! If you are not addicted, the message is the same – learn more about yourself and put that knowledge to work. Now that’s what I call having your cake and eating it too.

*cake not included with the game.

Sign up to play the demo and give us feedback at http://projectrecreate.com

Gratitude

It has been months since I posted last, and that’s unfortunate. My life has taken many turns since September or so of 2012. Without doing a bunch of catching up, I’d rather just pick back up with creating content through sharing my insights and ah-has. Sharing is the least I can do. This post is about gratitude.

I am sitting in Boulder, CO (actually Louisville, CO – ironically enough) with a person I value a great deal, working on something we care a great deal about. I am grateful that I have a friend like this. I am grateful that I have a partner at home that allows and enables me to explore, experiment, challenge myself, and grow. I am grateful for the people in this community that shared their time with me today. And I am grateful to God and my family that has given me the strength and permission to be where I am in my life. I am grateful to have choices, options, and the sense to take advantage of those two things.

Spend some time thinking about what you are grateful for. Name it, own it, and never forget the alternative. Mindfulness about the blessings we have make the challenges in our life seem manageable. So why don’t we all spend more time being grateful? Start now.

Dr. Anthony

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