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An End to a Two-Year Journey

Patrick Nelson, August 12, 2019

Adult Learning

I’d be lying if I said the last two years were easy.

I recently graduated with a Masters in Organization Development from Pepperdine University. It’s an Executive Education program that took my cohort around the world, from Costa Rica to France to China, working with clients on their organization development challenges.

During this period, work and family responsibilities didn’t relent.  I spent many late nights and weekends reading for school, writing papers, and working on my thesis.  At any given moment, I felt stress – it seemed that every single day for two years I had 30 hours of work that I had to squeeze into a 24-hour day.

We often talk in our workshops about creating “heat experiences” – those moments when we step outside of our comfort zone and challenge our thinking and behaviors.    Well, this was definitely my heat experience.  And what I have to offer are some pretty important takeaways for anyone seeking new ways to challenge yourself. Here they are:

  • Believe in yourself. You have to believe that whatever you are undertaking, you can successfully complete it. You will be challenged, but think success … not failure.
  • Surround yourself with the right people. My wife and my colleagues were my biggest cheerleaders. They offered me encouragement and advice as I navigated the learning experience.
  • Do your research. Learning is great, but not every opportunity is suited for you based on a number of factors. I did a lot of research in my program prior to applying.  If you’re considering going back to school, or acquiring some additional training, make sure it makes sense.
  • Manage your time. As adults, there is a lot more independent action required in most learning opportunities. As you juggle the different aspects of your life, prioritize what is important and make a list of the 3-5 things you need to get done each day. This level of focus ensures that the most important things in your life will not get neglected.
  • Ask questions. I hesitated at first to ask questions in my program because I didn’t want to be the only one not fully grasping the material. I’m sure you’ve heard it before, but if you have a question, chances are someone else does, too.  It’s okay not to know all the answers … that’s usually where learning begins.
  • Take care of yourself. Early in my program, I found myself running on E quite a bit. Carve out time for yourself to do what you love. Whether it is something as simple as going on a walk, or sitting outside listening to music, it’s important to ground yourself and recharge your batteries.

As I reflect back upon my experience, I am thankful for the awesome support I had from my family and my colleagues at Lead Star. The development I experienced has helped transform me into a better husband, father, facilitator, and consultant. Don’t hold yourself back from learning opportunities that can help you reach new heights.

As for me, what’s next on my journey? That’s a great question! I’m doing some reflecting on that now. After Angie completed her graduate work, she mentioned the value in creating a 100 day plan that helped her guide her actions after that intense experience. I intend to do the same. We’ve got one available on www.sparkslead.us if you’re interested in exploring how to apply your focus for the next three months.

Share: | Tags: Goal Setting, Growth Mindset, Time Management