One who exhibits the trait of _____ will often…
Achiever – have a great deal of stamina and work hard. They take great satisfaction from being busy and productive.
Positivity – have an enthusiasm that is contagious. They are upbeat and can get others excited about what they are going to do.
Maximizer – focus on strengths to stimulate group excellence. They seek to transform something strong into something superb.
Responsibility – take psychological ownership of what they say they will do. They are committed to stable values such as honesty and loyalty.
Belief – have certain core values that are unchanging. Out of these values emerges a defined purpose for their life.
I was lucky enough to take the strengths test very early on in my collegiate career, due to the fact that the Corps of Cadets has made it a priority of theirs. Through the knowledge of my strengths I was better able to focus my efforts to those activities and situations I could be most effective for, just as I was able to focus my attention to building up strengths not in my top five. In better learning about my own strengths as well as other’s, I have better been able to recognize the uniqueness and individuality each person brings with them to the table. Through that I have been able to appreciate them more honestly for what they have to offer rather than focusing on the traits they might be lacking. Knowing my strengths has been an integral part of my experience at Tech thus far and one I hope each and every student could share in and appreciate throughout their time here as well!
Aspirations for Student Learning
Curiosity: Everyone we know and anyone we will ever meet knows something we don’t, and each day, in even the most inconsequential moment or interaction, there is a nearly limitless amount of new things we can learn. We don’t learn so much as we discover these lessons life throws our way and if we don’t stay curious about ourselves and the world around us we could so easily miss them. When you are genuinely curious, when you have an honest passion to better understand the world around you, particularly through better understanding the circumstances and perspectives of others, you can better focus on the other four pillars. Curiosity is the basis of all of these ideals and without it one’s Keystone Experience, and I would stipulate one’s life, would be remarkably dull and likely quite purposeless.
Self Understanding and Integrity: It’s hard to understand others if you can’t first understand yourself. Knowing your strengths and weaknesses, the things you simply won’t stand for, the circumstances that have lead to your perspectives, and the biases you might hold, to name but a few. My favorite word and the standard I base my life and decisions around is the word and notion of intentionality. To me this means knowing why you chose to, or conversely choose not to do something and having a defined reason behind that. When you understand yourself – your goals, dreams, and hopes, it better contextualizes both the present and the future and makes it easier to ignore the temptations of today so you might better reap the rewards of tomorrow. This intentionality also helps foster and facilitate integrity as it is unbelievably easier to stand up for what you believe in when you can clearly and concisely explain why you are so passionate about your cause.
Civility: One of my favorite quotes is an excerpt from a Quaker proverb written in 1869 by a disputed author, although many attribute it to Stephen Grellet. It goes as follows: “I shall pass this way but once; any good that I can do or any kindness I can show to any human being; let me do it now. Let me not defer nor neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again.” This quote hangs over the door of my room so I can be reminded of its meaning each time I come and go. You never know what someone may be dealing with or the circumstances of their life, and sometimes the simplest acts like flashing a genuine smile or in some small way making that person know they are appreciated and loved can make all the difference in the world. We don’t have to work to change the whole world at once, when we work to better just one person’s world at a time we should be proud and content of our good deeds. It truly takes so little effort to be kind to one another, to respect each other solely on the fact that we are all humans. We each have equally valid stories, beliefs and opinions as those around us and even if we vehemently disagree with everything someone else believes, we must respect their right to believe it, freely and without persecution or discrimination. When we focus on being just a little more civil to one another I have full faith and confidence we will all be taken aback by the overwhelming amount of similarities we share and the inconsequentially few differences that we seem to focus so intently upon as of late.
Courageous Leadership: Leadership doesn’t mean you must always be the one standing at the front or that you have the loudest voice, leadership to me is all about influence and relationships. In everything you do you are a leader, for even if you are in charge of no one you are still responsible for yourself. No matter where you stand on the totem pole you have a tremendous amount of influence over the way others go about their lives in that they, especially those below you, will see and then emulate you, your work ethic, and your attitude. To me, being a leader is, in part, about working to become an expert in whatever aspect of life you are leading. As such, courageous leadership is about becoming that expert so you can better help others on their journey. It will certainly be difficult and there will be any number of excuses to get you off of the hook for why something went wrong, but courageous leadership is about having the personal fortitude to stand up and admit when you have messed up, for assuredly we all will. Courageous leadership is about standing up for what you know in your heart is right, no matter what others say or the personal implications and ramifications you may face because of it. Courageous leadership is doing the right thing, at all times, simply because it is the right thing to do.
Ut Prosim: You can be the most self aware, curious, civil leader, but if you do not work to share your knowledge and experiences with others and promote this new standard for those to follow, then all will be for naught and your efforts will be largely in vain as they will die with you. I have always been fascinated by the duality of how incredibly selfish humans can be even while we are such innately social creatures. If we do not dedicate our lives to service for each other we are doing ourselves and our communities a disservice. Conversely, when we can better work together, when we can trust and support each other in all we do, we are capable of great feats. I don’t believe we challenge ourselves and our neighbors enough and that in many aspects of our lives we have fallen into complacency and silent yet disapproving acquiescence. We look at something and see it’s a problem but go, “Well, I know this is wrong but I’m just one person I can’t do anything about that.” Or we say, “I’m too young, or uneducated, or not popular enough to really affect change” and in doing so we are selling ourselves, and by extension each other, short of what we are truly capable of. The legacy we should all strive to leave behind is one of better, more capable leaders and individuals who are willing and able to go out into the world, not accept the inadequacies of the day, and work together to honestly do something about it. Each and every one of us is capable of enacting great change and when we can focus the efforts of our labor a little more towards others, and a little less towards ourselves, we will be able to stand up and truly affirm ourselves to our dear motto, UT PROSIM.