Faculty Forum- Finish Strong
by Greg Greenhalgh, Ph.D.
As I write, my heart is still pounding. I just finished a three mile run. The wife couldn’t join us tonight so it was just me and Miley, my dog, which meant I could set the pace. I don’t typically run very fast. I run for completion as I am built more for comfort. I finished the run with a sprint, if for no other reason than to make Miley upgrade from her typical mall-walk to a gallop.
Perhaps this change of pace (pun fully intended) was due to a conversation I had with Greg Burton this morning. Much like all of the good ideas I have ever had, I stole this one from someone else. Burton suggested I write my Faculty Forum on finishing strong. This seems very appropriate with respect to where we stand in the academic calendar. While much of this is directed at our current students, there are certainly some parallels which could be drawn to our alumni’s responsibilities at work. Even some commiserating could be done between our current students and our alumni.
Here we are at the beginning of December, so close to being halfway through the school year. Our students have accomplished a lot but there is still work left. Now is the time when real leaders start to emerge. There is no candy coating it: this is crunch time. Between major projects, papers, presentations, and exams, our students’ plates are full, possibly overflowing. Keeping with the food analogy: it’s time to dig in. The next two weeks are going to be crucial in the outcome of the semester for each of our students. While grades will be impacted by the decisions made over the next two weeks, there is an even greater outcome in my opinion. This adversity is a time to demonstrate that you can handle stressful situations. You can thrive in them. People are watching: your classmates, faculty, colleagues & co-workers. Your actions this time of year will impact how your peers see you. Ask our alumni about how stressed out they were at the end of each semester and I am sure they will be more than willing to swap war stories. They’ll likely recall with great detail which classmates rose to the occasion and which ones mailed it in. I would be willing to bet there is a correlation between career success and peer evaluated performance at the end of each semester. Actually, I would love for our alumni to share their thoughts/words of inspiration about finishing strong with our current students via Twitter @CSLatVCU or on Facebook at Center for Sport Leadership.
Unfortunately, this time of year can also create some self-doubt within many of our students. A couple of weeks ago Dr. LeCrom wrote a Faculty Forum titled You Belong at the Table. Her takeaway was sometimes you may feel like you don’t belong in a situation because you are not good enough. Her message is: you belong. As many of our students know, just by being admitted into the CSL, you are in a pretty rare group: we accept 35 students each year and receive over 100 applications.
Trust us, you belong here.
This actually makes me think of the powerful words we heard about a year ago from the legendary rugby coach Jack Clark. He emphasized that we are all either ascending or descending. There is no neutral. The best part of what Clark talked about was that everyday you get to make the decision as to whether you want to be ascending or descending. Now, like no other time, is when you need to be making a daily conscious effort to ascend. You just have to make the decision to dig in, make the necessary sacrifices and choose to ascend. Now is when you have to show those around you that you are going to finish strong.
Dr. Greg Greenhalgh is director of student services and outreach for the Center for Sport Leadership. You can reach him by email at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @Greg_Greenhalgh
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