My new favorite thing to do when I begin reading for the week is to go through and view the chapters titles that I will be reading. With how the book is set up, sometimes I feel like I could write pages on just that, the short titles. This week’s readings were hard though, for reasons I am not sure I even know why. As I read through, however, I felt myself beating myself up over little things that i view to have gone wrong recently. This book has truly made me think in so many ways that I don’t know if I have ever been challenged to before and every time I sit down to read I think, “okay this can’t be as good as last week,” and yet I have been proven wrong every time.
The first chapter title is “Playing it safe is dangerous!” Okay!! I never really view myself as someone who “plays it safe” but I do believe in the idea that you have to have built a solid foundation for yourself if you are going to not play things safe so, inevitably, when you fail you have a landing spot to stand again. Something I like to tell my undergraduate students who I supervise is that life is hard. It’s actually really hard. College is difficult, trying to be a role model is challenging and even some days just finding the motivation to get out of bed for that 2 p.m. class can seem like an impossible task. Just because it is hard though, doesn’t mean you should play it safe.
I’m the type of person who is consistently challenging myself, sometimes without even meaning to. Some of the worst positions I have been put in have been from something I said 3 months prior knowing that it would create a challenge for me later. Is this crazy? Maybe. Do I wonder why I do this to myself sometimes? Absolutely. But what I repetitively learn is that I rise to the occasion and succeed, or I fail miserably, and I walk away with a lesson learned. This brings me to the next chapter title: Don’t compete, change the game.
One of the most consistent descriptions I get of myself is my competitive nature. “Oh there goes Colin turning it into a competition” or “Okay Colin, this is a team effort not a win or lose moment.” While these moments used to make me so angry, I have grown to appreciate them. Why? Because I am competitive. I begin every day to not only be the best Colin Croat I can be, but also be the best person anyone could ever need. What I’ve learned about myself though is that I’m not competing with anyone other than myself, and I can never truly win.
One of the most important things Robert Kriegel and Louis Patler have taught me in this book, without even putting it in writing, is the idea of just when you think you’ve won… that’s when you run the chance of beginning to lose. This idea resonates with me especially when relating it to Student Affairs. One of my favorite and most challenging things about my job is ending meetings. When a one on one with a student goes well, you should feel good, right? Or when a meeting goes bad, you should be optimistic about the next time, yeah? Not I. Regardless of how meetings go, I always feel a little empty inside walking away because I know I could have done more. I think this plays directly into the hand of not competing but changing the game. In order to change the game, you have to be ready to do things that have never been done before. The scary part about Student Affairs is sometimes you don’t even know that you’ve changed the game…
I’ll wrap up my post with the last chapter… Sacred cows make the best burger… What?!?! What a weird saying, but it sure does make sense. I think in order to actually make an impact in this world, you can’t just search and find the sacred cow. You have to take the cow and make it into a burger, whatever your burger may look like. This week was a real challenge for me: educationally, professionally, and even personally on some levels. However, I appreciate it not being easy. I want to present to all of you the same question I asked my Resident Assistants… What are you chasing? What does your sacred cow look like? Who is your hero?
Matthew Mcconaughey once said his hero is him, but ten years in the future. He knew he was never going to obtain becoming a hero, and that’s okay, because it gave him something to chase. I don’t know if I know who my hero is, but I am searching. What I do know is that everyone needs a hero, but sometimes we just need that hero to be ourselves. Everyone needs a hero, but sometimes you need that hero to be you.
-Colin Lane Croat