Y-Of-U

Purpose

I had an amazing opportunity to speak with a group of student leaders at DePaul University over this past weekend. I spoke with them about finding their “why” and what they should be doing/thinking at this phase in their life to do that. It is a message I have valued and personally held close for a while now, and I find myself continuing to refine how I talk about it.

In short, finding our why is about creating habits that position us to learn about ourselves, create and sustain powerful relationships, and pay attention to both small and large choices we make. Finding our why is also about not focusing on the “what” we do (or degree we earn, or the job we have). Those things are how we do our why, but definitely not the why itself. Finding our way is a discipline – one that requires commitment throughout life – not just through college, or the military, or parenthood. This is how people can live full, rich lives across a number of jobs and experiences. They know their why, and so how they live their why takes so many shapes. I believe I know my why, and it feels amazing. I want that for everyone.

Yesterday a member of our team at my college shared this powerful post. It is good – and says what I know to be true so clearly. Thank you for sharing my friend, and I hope it helps clarify how others can find their why.

Read post Everyday Calls HERE.

Dr. Anthony

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Give…because you got it

Gifts

I recently visited a friend’s church in Chicago, and during service they talked about tithing. Now if you go to church you are already side-eyeing this whole conversation – you know what I mean, but stick with me. If you don’t go to church/mosque/synagogue you may be inclined to stop reading as well – that’s OK, but I think what I’m about say is beyond religious babbling, rather its a principle that shows itself true over and over: giving is good, and worth it.

I decided to “step out on faith”on that day and give – and in doing so I was literally saved from a situation I wasn’t able to handle. I’ve also recently joined a non-profit board, not really having as much time as I want for other things now, and not knowing how it would turn out. Without going into too many specifics for either situation, my faith this time showed itself true. I say “this time” because stepping out on faith is not like rubbing a genie and getting what you want. Sometimes you do, sometimes you don’t. But faith simultaneously allows me to know that whatever the outcome, I’ll be OK. I think about this in the service I do, both within my region and across the world. I also think about it academically as one who studies leadership and its purposes. In fact an entire philosophy of leadership is driven by the believe that leaders should first be servants, and through serving improve the world, community, and individuals. More about Robert Greenleaf and his seminal work on the topic can be found here: https://www.greenleaf.org/what-is-servant-leadership/.

This is not a new principle, but I think its one we have to remember, and reframe. At least I did. I think it is easiest to hear and do this in times of abundance and good times, but we miss something when we do that. You see, biblically speaking, the first “tithe” was given by the father of all Abrahamic religions (Abraham) after he had seen a victory over his enemies. There was no need to give first in order to get something in return. If we think about our own lives, treasures, time and talents, we must think about all that we have already. Whether by your own hard work, by family, or by some other means, we all have something to give. Take what you have been given, and give it back. Not in anticipation of anything in particular, but because you have it to give. Whether the giving is financial, spiritual, with your time, or with your talents; give…because you got it.

Evidence of Things Unseen

Colleges Campuses Are Full Of Subtle Racism And Sexism, Study Says.

First, way to go Missouri for trying to own your stuff and respond appropriately. This is a good read, and more evidence of problems across the academy. I don’t expect my colleagues who are part of the dominant culture (however that manifests in your space) to always understand, but you can try. This stuff is real, and has real impacts. I’m reading Whistling Vivaldi by Claude M. Steele now, pick it up – it’s a good one. It will also provide more evidence to the reality and impact of stereotype threat and how it affects us all.

It may be worth noting this line as an example: “I have to stop and think sometimes, ‘Are they being racist? Or, is that just how they act? Or, are they just not being friendly because they’re having a bad day?'” This is one of many Black/Brown taxes. It’s a tax others pay too depending on their many identities. While you’re asking that question, you’re not focusing on your studies, success, or other things we all think about and have to manage psychologically. This is why we have to do what we can, all of us, to create safe, accepting and welcoming spaces – particularly on college campuses.

Dr. Anthony

 

Understanding and Managing Privilege

In my work, discussions of privilege and power come up a lot – and actually should come up more. Talking about privilege and power is not meant for trivial coffee conversations either. It is a matter that impacts us every day of our lives, no matter your many social identities. When I find resources that help talk about privilege in a way that will be heard, I want to shout it from the rooftops. So here is my rooftop, and here is me shouting.

Read…marinate…read again…marinate…then post this everywhere you can. Much appreciation to his author for adding to this conversation in a way that many and more can get….and many and more will miss. But it’s good all the same. I humbly share this from http://www.robot-hugs.com/?attachment_id=894Privilege-clean

 

Dr. Anthony

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

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

productivity-20110103-093145

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..

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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