Lonny Wants To2

This weekend my dad asked if my students were naïve about the things they are posting on their “I Want To” signs. For those of you who are now completely lost, feel free to check out our Office of Professional Development Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/ucfopd) where I’ve been rotating their pictures as cover and profile shots.

Before Welcome to the Majors I ask the students coming in to GEB 3003 to send me a picture of them holding a sign telling me their career/life goal by completing the sentence, “I want to…” The idea comes from the poem “A Summer’s Day” by Mary Oliver: http://www.loc.gov/poetry/180/133.html. In it she poses the question, “What will you do with your one wild and precious life?” We run the pictures as a slide show before Welcome to the Majors while loud music that encourages action and activity blares in the background. Later in the semester, after meeting with their Career Coach and doing some initial research, they have to write a short essay answering that question. Summer essays are due this week! I don’t hold them to their answer, I don’t even know what the right answer is (or if there is one!) but the goal is to give direction to the student’s career activity over the next couple of years.

I want my students to think about their answer to this question. However, I also realize that the majority of my students are 20 and younger so their answer at this point may be more aspirational than concrete. That’s ok, I want them to think big at this point. I want them to push themselves. Set, as Ken Blanchard was fond of saying, “Big Hairy Audacious Goals.” This way we have a good place to start working back from and figure out what they can reasonably do by graduation. From there we can map out a plan for what to do while they’re in school to do what they want to do at graduation so they can someday hit that BHAG.

Now before you start accusing me of being a Pollyanna or enabler, know that I’ve written about the reality of achieving tough goals (https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/success-takes-more-than-just-believing-lonny-butcher-sphr?trk=mp-author-card). I will remind students who say their goal is to be the CFO of a Fortune 500 company that they have a GREATER chance of playing in the NFL. Thirty six teams times 56 roster spots is more than 500! What I would caution you about is to not be a DIS-abler.

But are they naïve? Some are. Maybe most. The ones that aren’t usually are either older…or Accountants. And I’m ok with that. First of all, if life has already crushed your dreams at 19 then unless someone or something steps in, you have a pretty miserable future ahead of you. My goal would be that these classes are what helps you get back on track. But really, who knows what life has in store for you at 19?

After 30 years in business I know that to become a Regional Manager of Human Resources, I’ll have to start out as a Personnel Coordinator, move to HR Administrator, become HR Manager, and then eventually reach a position where I can “Advocate for a better employee experience.” So my goal for the rest of our students is that they set that awesome goal, then I can poke them to do the things they need to do to get a job that would lead to it.  Many will stumble along the way.  Some will fail.  A few quire miserably.  But that’s ok.  That’s where learning happens.  And isn’t it better for it to happen here, in a safe place?  Where else will you find faculty to teach you what you should have known, Career Coaches to guide you in what you should have done, and classmates to hold you accountable to all of it?  It would be naïve to NOT take advantage of that!

So feel free to set Big Hairy Audacious Goals. Set your sights on a rewarding and fabulous career. Just know that Dean Jarley’s “pointed stick” is going to be prodding you to live up to that lofty dream!