Thursday, February 28, 2013

AHA: If You Build It They Will Come

I have been going through many AFGOs this week (Another Fabulous Growth Opportunity).  In one AHA moment I realized once again (another layer of the onion) that what I crave is acknowledgment and affirmation.  I know there are people in the world who are in business or personal relationships who work well together, giving each other undivided attention and support while also pushing ahead.  They are teams.  Teams have no "I" but the members know each other well and the team is a central unit in the business, even above the customers.  This is because if there is no team, there is no success and no customers.

And, in the middle of this AFGO and AHA moment I answer the door to find my neighbor asking for a tea date so she can talk about her product.  I have been running from that because she makes me feel uncomfortable, and I am not clear about her understanding of and commitment to boundaries.  But, I feel like a heel because she is probably looking for the same thing I am.

Okay, so I know I am a complicated human being who is still developing.  But, maybe I'm getting warmer.

Which brought me back to the GAME.  Designing the game is an exercise in completing a process, and I'm hoping this specific round will yield a product or process I can use as I move from being a home-schooling person to an entrepreneur.  But, I have to ask myself DO TEENAGERS WANT TO ASK THESE QUESTIONS AND TRY OUT ASPECTS OF COLLEGE BEFORE THEY GET THERE?  Did I?  Hhhmmmm.....  It was very invigorating or perhaps just plain scary to meet new people, learn to live with a roommate, set my own limits and walk into academic experiences that I had never had before.  What a complicated, wonderful and terrifying journey it was, and probably still is if a teenager really gets into the process.

My 13 year-old daughter saved an article entitled How to Choose a College (Frank Bruno, NY Times, 1/6/2013) for me when I was in Florida trying to help my mother after my father's death.  First, the experience was difficult but also a catalyst for just doing what I really feel is important.  Second, it was really affirming that she got what I am doing with this process.  My husband and I are blessed with three amazing children. 

"If you're among the lucky who can factor more than cost and proximity into where you decide to go, college is a ticket to an adventure beyond the parameters of what you've experienced so far.  It's a passport to the far side of what you already know.  It's a chance to be challenged, not coddled.  To be provoked, not pacified......College can shrink your universe, or college can expand it.  I vote for the latter."

So, I go back to the current parts of this game I am ruminating on.  I love mountains but I am not a mountain climber right now.  I would not go to a mountain and try to climb it unless I was prepared.  But, with preparation maybe that would be an option.  Kids should choose a college and program that is going to help them expand and really think, really put to the test what they think they want to do.  But, that doesn't mean they shouldn't think about the type of teacher they learn best from or acknowledge their own limitations regarding being a roommate or a student.  If someone needs five alarms to finally wake up in the morning she probably shouldn't have a class that begins at 8am on the other side of campus -- at least not starting out.  If a student is used to always being at the top of the class then trying a subject that he has no experience in will be a trip outside of the comfort zone.

I firmly believe that expansion happens really well when it grows from a base of acknowledgment and affirmation, and when the person goes into their personal AFGO with a suitcase of experience tools that can be altered to use in the expansion.

So, here is "Build a Professor".  It's kind of like "Build a Bear".

The professor on the left is a teacher you have NOW and learn well from.

                                                       The professor on the right you WOULD LIKE to take a class from.

First, who is your favorite teacher now, why?    Second, who is your most effectve teacher now, why?

Now, dress them up (long/short hair, loud/soft voice, neat/not-so-neat dresser, glasses?)
And then, add on the sides the style of speaking, what they know, attitude, professional experience, personal experience.

Tell me what happened!  Hit the comments' section, even if you already went to college and have no students heading that way.

Friday, February 8, 2013

In the Comfort Zone?

This past month has been something else.  My father's death, school applications, home-school classes and I am trying to find a balance in the midst of so much.  I do not live near where my parents and brother live so this horrible change in our lives means a section of my life, along with much of theirs, has to be renegotiated.  And, this leads to somewhat of a ripple effect that touches everything else.  So again, this past month has been "something else".

Writing a new post has been on my mind constantly, but how to stay focused on what I was making progress with, with the changes?  How to be true to what I know works while making room for what has to be new?  That model works with so much in life, doesn't it?

I moved from my parent's home years ago, and have often lived in situations that are outside of my original comfort zone.  I will always remember the day my mother dropped me off at college.  I wanted to go, I had worked toward that specific place even though it wasn't clear I had all the skills and experience to be a success, and there was a moment when I was ON MY OWN.  Yes, I had to stretch, often to the point of breaking.  Yes, I made so many mistakes.  Yes, I often came close to failing.  But, I succeeded.    And, I wouldn't be the person I am now if I had not taken the chance of living outside of my comfort zone.

And yet, finding those things that are familiar also gave me a huge sense of connection.  Kindness, sincere interest, and those typing and waitress skills all became very important.  I have traveled to places like Krakow, Berlin, Kaunas and Sydney and found kindness and sincere interest.  I have met a President, a couple of Cardinals, movie stars and homeless people and those same things ring true.

So, as I continue to work on this game to assist students in answering questions like "is college the right choice?" and "will I have experiences and skills that can apply?" I have to go back to the things I know have worked.  Yes, being true to who you are is where you start.  That may not always be pretty but it is key self-knowledge.  And, it can be a jumping off place for new things or a solid place to never move from.  The choice is the step that sets the course because there is room for both directions.

Sometimes I fantasize that my ancestors arrived from some far away place, stepped off the boat and started walking until they found a comfortable spot which they never wanted to leave.  I live in a place that is a destination for many people's dreams and aspirations.  Both places can lead to never wanting to move, physically or emotionally.  So, is it okay to find a place of comfort and keep it that way, or do we keep pressing on?