Those of you who know me know that when I admire someone, I tend to be a bit, um, what’s the word…obsessive?
Not that this is a bad thing. Besides, I think that word gets a bad rap because of the range of definitions associated with it. Everything from the relatively normal (all-consuming) to the pathological (neurotic). Simon Sinek, John Wooden, Walt Disney are three of the names that come to mind as people whom I truly admire and respect and whose ideas I embrace.
When I began working with high school students and created my foundation of HOW and WHY I chose to work with them, one of the key parts of my mission statement was to support them to go through the college planning, preparation and application process WITHOUT OVERWHELM. The “without overwhelm” part was HUGE on so many levels, because I knew, through my coach training, that engaging in ANY activity when we are stressed or overwhelmed limits our capacity for productivity, for creativity, and for accessing all parts of our brain that help us to do our best! That’s why it wasn’t too surprising when Frank Bruni, best-selling author and Op-Ed columnist for the New York Times entered my radar and became my newest “obsession”. His mission to bring awareness to the college admissions process and to CHANGE the way colleges conduct the process is nothing short of heroic! His most recent article in the January 19th edition of the New York Times literally makes me dance with delight. You can read it here:
Among the many wonderful ideas and thoughts in this article, this one, in particular, stands out for me:
“The report also suggests that colleges discourage manic résumé padding ….. that they better use essays and references to figure out which students’ community-service projects are heartfelt and which are merely window dressing:”
This seemingly simple thought has such a HUGE ripple effect, not only on reducing the overwhelm and stress of the entire process but ALSO the opportunity for students to begin from a place of discovering WHO they are and what is important to them and WHY – which effects their choices and decisions throughout their entire life!
The more that students operate from a place of what activities they SHOULD do to get into the college they think they SHOULD go to, the less they know themselves and their own abilities, strengths and passions and the less they develop their own dreams!
Watching the joy and happiness they feel when they express those dreams, when they find activities that they love, that they are great at, is indescribable. And, the more inspired they are to create and follow THEIR plan, the more they develop confidence, self-esteem and resiliency - qualities that help them to choose a college, help them IN college and in LIFE!
This was recently reinforced for me in speaking with a student that I am working with when I asked her what she most hopes to accomplish from our time together. She expressed how she has a bunch of things she wants to do and she would love to combine her dreams with finding a college that will help her to both expand on them and provide a way to help them to be expressed in a viable way. WOW!
It reminds me of the lyrics to one of my favorite Paramore songs:
“I wanna get out and build my own home
On a street where reality is not much different from dreams I've had”
John Wooden, Walt Disney, Simon Sinek, Frank Bruni – move over. I think I will be adding this young student to my list in the very near future.
Dare to Dream, indeed!