About Amanda Young

Director of Admissions, Belhaven University Atlanta

Never Stop Learning

Not long ago I was reading a book with my colleagues called The Trust Edge by David Horsager. In this, the author suggested the key competency of our time is to be in a perpetual state of learning (2009). When I read this statement I thought, well sure, we live in the information age, this just naturally kind of occurs for us. But, the more I thought about this, the more I was challenged by it. Soon, I began to shift my thinking to being intentional about learning.

As adult learners, we are typically in class year round. No longer do we have the benefit of long summer breaks like we had as kids. Instead, while we are plowing through work and home life, we are also studying. Whether you are in class now, thinking of going back to school, or maybe just graduated, consider this: there truly should be no end to learning.

One of the areas Horsager suggested in which we can learn outside the classroom is through mentorship. What comes to your mind when you think of a mentor? The traditional image is often of a young person being mentored by an adult…someone who has been around the block and has some wisdom to impart. In the business world, however, mentors can look a bit different – a trusted colleague, a professor, or a business associate. Consider finding someone in your life with whom you can be brutally honest, and with whom you can take constructive criticism. Then, begin to cultivate that relationship. It’s going to require an intentional effort on your part – meeting for coffee, setting and keeping regular accountability times, and the willingness to learn from someone else.

Having been involved in several mentoring relationships in my life, I can honestly say it is both a challenging and rewarding experience. In some of these relationships, I may have started out as the mentor, but found myself often as the mentee. I learned from others as they were challenged by obstacles or presented with opportunities and grew both emotionally and spiritually.

Maybe you are at a point in your life where you feel you can help someone else learn from your experiences or skill set. Reach out, volunteer your time to organizations through your local Chambers of Commerce, Boys and Girls Club or Men/Women’s support groups – there are many out there – but the point is to be intentional about your involvement. And, just like me, I’m betting that while you may set out to be the mentor, you may find yourself changed for the better in the process.

Perhaps Walt Disney captured it best when he said, “always be in a constant state of becoming” (Horsager, 2009, p.127). In other words, never feel like you have made it. Instead, begin to tell yourself there is always more out there to learn.

 

Reference

Horsager, D. (2009). The Trust Edge. New York, NY: Free Press.

New Year, New You (and me)

Return to your rest, O my soul, for the Lord has been good to you. Psalm 116:7 (NIV)

As I think back on the holidays, the stretch from Thanksgiving to New Year’s feels like a blur. Parties, gift buying and giving, travel, eating and cooking, and did I mention all that wrapping paper to clean up? Whew, just thinking about it makes me tired. It’s easy to feel like we need a vacation after the vacation.

God’s word, however, tells us to rest and be reminded of our blessings. I love how The Message translation captures this:

I said to myself, “Relax and rest. God has showered you with blessings.
Soul, you’ve been rescued from death;
Eye, you’ve been rescued from tears;
And you, Foot, were kept from stumbling” (MSG)

Rest doesn’t only mean physical, but also emotional and spiritual. Sometimes rest means finding a quiet place to reflect and spend time alone with God. Even Jesus urged his disciples to do this. I do not believe this happens by accident, I believe that in order to truly experience rest we must be intentional about it. Yes, I hear you, “Amanda are you saying I have to plan rest into my day”? That is exactly what I am saying. Otherwise, it will fall further and further down on our list of priorities.

Earlier this year our family took the first of what I hope will be many camping trips. There is a picture I snapped during our hike that I come back to in my mind. At a beautiful bend in the trail my daughter found a bench and laid down. She didn’t just briefly sit down, she laid completely flat and stared at the sky. In full surrender and abandonment to everything around her she said, “look at the top of the trees, mom, they are dancing” (referring to them blowing in the wind). I certainly would never have thought to describe them this way, or even to have laid down and looked up mid-hike. But this act of complete and total pause allowed her to see things she might not have seen otherwise. I can’t help but think the Father has so much to show us and tell us if we just stop, look and listen. We can’t do that if we are constantly in motion.

So this year, my resolution is to plan for rest of my mind and my spirit. That may look like starting my day with a devotional at my desk, or with a carved out time on my calendar for prayer or a conversation with God. I’m still working out the details, but the important thing is I am going to be intentional about it.

Students, consider how this intentional quiet time with God can positively impact your studies and the way you approach presentations, class discussions and projects. How do you plan to incorporate this into your life? What spiritual resolution could you consider this year? I would love to see your comments below.

 

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Your Brand Identity

Have you ever wondered who Coca Cola is? Or, thought what is a McDonalds? Probably not. Their brand identity is strong. They know who they are, they carefully create and articulate that information, and we come to know them by the information that is communicated.

At the same time, have you considered you have a brand identity as well? Your brand identity is how you want to be perceived and should reflect the value of what you bring to the audience. Here’s the great thing…you are in control of your brand identity!

I have one of those fancy fitness trackers and I love it. It prompts me to take the stairs or go the long way to a meeting. But, plenty of times I still choose to take the elevator and chances are good I’m going to run into someone on that elevator who introduces themselves and asks me who I am or what I do. Being able to articulate who I am in that 30 seconds is crucial. It will certainly be the only first impression opportunity I have to do so. By preparing for this in advance I am more likely to accurately communicate my brand identity and have more control over how I am perceived in that first impression.

As an adult learner, perhaps you are in the process of seeking a new job. Maybe you just want to position yourself a bit better at your current place of employment. In each regard, you would benefit from having your own personal elevator speech prepared. You never know who you are going to be standing beside in the elevator, or the coffee line, or at the dry cleaners. Use that opportunity to share your brand identity. Besides, you never know where it might lead you!

I recently read an article in Journal of Interactive Marketing in which the authors shared “the premise for personal branding is that everyone has the power to be their own brand and a person’s main job is to be their own marketer” (Labrecque, Markos & Milne, 2011, para. 11). Wow, what an opportunity!

I believe a few intentional steps in planning can help you be prepared to present your personal brand identity:

  1. Who are you? – You would think this is obvious, but sometimes being tongue tied gets the best of us! Clearly state your name – are you Robert, Bob, Rob…? Decide this in advance.
  2. What can you offer/what do you do? – This is not your job title. Try framing your job title in terms of what you do. My job title may be Director of Admissions, but I prefer to say “I help adult students realize their dreams”.
  3. Provide a hook to learn more – what is unique about you or what you do that someone may like to learn more about?
  4. Practice makes perfect – you want your speech to be concise, interesting, and memorable. Practice it over and over and don’t be afraid to make changes. You will find you are more likely to remember it and less likely to stumble over words like “um” or “uh” with practice.
  5. Ask for a takeaway – “Could I give you my business card”? Or perhaps, “Could we connect on LinkedIn?” are great ways to share your information and gain information for further networking with your audience.

 

Labrecque, L.I., Markos, E., & Milne, G.R. (2011). Online personal branding: Processes, challenges, and implications. Journal of Interactive Marketing, 25(1), 37-50. doi:10.1016/j.intmar.2010.09.002

 

Amanda Young is Director of Admissions at Belhaven University, Atlanta