[NOTE: I previously posted this on Blogger on June 6, 2010.]
In the immediate aftermath of the abortive Time Square car-bombing (May 2010), media sources began painting a picture of the alleged suspect in the incident. One particular description caught my attention. When asked to describe the suspect, a college professor said the suspect had been an “unremarkable” student.
While the incident had massive societal implications on so many levels, I was particularly struck by the word “UNREMARKABLE”—and (ever the teacher!) I thought of a way to relate that descriptor to success on campus and in life.
Think about it. Are you interested in living an “UNREMARKABLE life”? Would you be happy with the following description of your life?
- You hope for an average college career that will prepare you for an average job.
- You hope for an average career.
- If you marry, you hope for an average partner. Together you will have average children.
- You will live in an average house, living an average life, with a bunch of average friends.
- Upon your death, you will be remembered as one average person who led a rather UNREMARKABLE life.
While I have met many people who were living that life, I have NEVER met anyone who said they aspired to such a life! And for most of you reading this blog, I KNOW in my heart that you do not want to such a life. (After all, how many people do you know who wake up each morning saying, “Gee, I can’t wait for another average day in my life!”?) But occasionally, we all get off track; we all need a little motivation (or loving kick in the butt) to raise our game. When that happens to you or to a friend or to a family member, consider the following reminders to help you make the necessary changes in your life that will move it to REMARKABLE:
- Knowledge is not power. It is not enough to know that a change is needed. You have to do something with the information—you have to use the knowledge. I recommend any of Larry Winget’s works for more information on this commonsensical approach to change. In particular, check out his books People Are Idiots—And I Can Prove It and Shut Up, Stop Whining, And Get A Life! [For a selected bibliography, you may wish to check http://stevepiscitelli.com/bibliography.htm.]
- You need to have a clear vision of where you want to go. But long-term goals can be a bit intimidating—and for some, the lack of immediacy creates a demotivator. The Heath brothers’ book Switch: How To Change Things When Change Is Hard provides an excellent strategy. They suggest we develop a “Destination Postcard.” As the Heaths describe it, “A vivid picture from the near-term future that shows what could be possible” will make the destination compelling and visible. It might be the best postcard you ever write—and receive!
- The Heaths also encourage us to focus on the short-term victories to get us to the long-term celebration. They suggest replacing “milestones” with “inch pebbles.” In this way we can make the long-term goal more immediate.
- Finally, listen to and learn from those around you. Find a mentor or two to move you forward. I am fortunate to tour this great country with two giants in the area of student success: Robb Sherfield and Amy Baldwin. From them, I have learned that change is not a singular thing…it is a process that requires attention and hard work. More specifically, if we want to change—if we want to grow into a REMARKABLE life—we have to embrace a five-step process: 1. Have COURAGE; 2. take ACTION; 3. take calculated RISKS; 4. maintain an appropriate ATTITUDE; and 5. be patient—change takes TIME. Think of the acronym CARAT. Just as a carat represents the value of a diamond, this five CARAT change will add value to your life. Embrace it! Live it! Enjoy it! And live the REMARKABLE life you can have.
Until later, choose well, live well, and be well!
© Steve Piscitelli and Steve Piscitelli’s Blog, 2010.