On the 7th day of each month we pause to reflect on the Institute program and celebrate #Day7. Yesterday we highlighted Vincent and today we are sharing Clivane’s experiences as part of our three-part series.
Steve Jobs said, “You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards…” Let’s look backward, shall we?
It’s been one year since I graduated the 2015 Institute at York University. I’ve had 365 Day 7s since then. I’ve kept in touch with 1-2 members of my cluster family, and a couple of other individuals as well. My core values – empowerment, loyalty, creativity, hard work and leadership – remain the same. My GAG, to embrace vulnerability, became my #OneWord365 for 2016.
I also became an intern at LeaderShape. As a LeaderShape Intern, the marketing and community engagement work I do keeps me connected to LeaderShape’s vision, mission and daily work. And when I had the opportunity this past July to help prepare for one of the national sessions of the Institute, everything hit me full circle.
Now I wish I could tell you that the dots all began to connect… but they didn’t. In fact, after spending a week in Champaign preparing for the national sessions, it was like my first Day 7 all over again!
It was like Day 7 all over again.
I started to think about my cluster family, my vision, my stretch goals, the risks I have taken, the vulnerability I have shown, the things I have learned about myself and others since my first Day 7. While the momentum after the Institute may have waned, the importance of living in possibility and creating real, positive change has not.
My year after the Institute has been the most emotional, eye-opening and challenging year of my life. But now I can begin to connect the dots going backwards. The Institute was the catalyst I needed to embrace vulnerability. I struggled with it over 6 days (hence, the reason vulnerability was my GAG), but little did I know what a vital tool it would be in the months afterwards. With vulnerability, I found the courage to share a story about a loved one and mental illness. Sharing that story created positive change for others. Talk about a ripple effect – and it had nothing to do with my vision created at the Institute!
So here’s what I have to say. If you’re an Institute grad and you’re having a rough year in your personal life, your vision has become unclear, you’ve lost connection with your cluster family, or accomplishing your manageable goals is taking longer than you anticipated – it’s Day 7 again.
Live each day with a healthy disregard for the impossible. Read through your Institute manual. Check in with your cluster family. Celebrate your small victories. Reevaluate your goals. Get that ripple of positive change re-started.
There’s a final line to the Steve Jobs quote that began this blog post. Steve Jobs said, “You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards…So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future.”
Let’s look forward, shall we?
Let’s live in possibility, my friends.
On May 8, 2011, I started a journey that is still ongoing today. That journey is living out the vision I created at the LeaderShape Institute. I attended the Institute at the end of my first year at Central Michigan University. One may think that attending the Institute so early in my educational career could not yield the same benefits that it would if I would have attended later. However, I was a blank canvas with a passion that could not be explained. This all changed during the Institute.
Before arriving I was nervous and excited. The Institute was my first introduction to casting a personal vision for what a better world could look like. It was the launch pad that would provide me with questions that I revisit today to see if I am still on the right track. The Institute was challenging, insightful, revealing, energizing and fun. In many ways, the Institute helped me clarify my values and then align them with actions. You get to be honest with yourself when you espouse or write down certain values and then they don’t show up during an activity. You also get to celebrate coming together to change for the better alongside your peers.
As a young professional, I get to live and breathe the passion I discovered at the Institute and share it with others. I currently work for CMU’s Leadership Institute as the Coordinator of Leadership Programs Graduate Assistant. In this role, I strive to help students understand that differences are power resources that should be welcomed with genuine curiosity, as well as appreciated for the valuable perspectives that are shared because of differences.
All in all, the Institute gave me something I couldn’t have found anywhere else. It gave me an environment that was conduces to exploring what was deeply important to
me. It prompted me to take responsibility for making the world a better place. Finally, it gave me support and inspiration for achieving what I previously thought not possible.
To close, I think of experiences that were deeply transformative as pillars in my lifetime.
LeaderShape’s Institute program is one of the foundational pillars that continues to inform who I am, what I hope to become, and what I hope to give to the world through my time, talents, and resources. I wouldn’t trade that for the world.
Vincent Thurman is the Coordinator of Leadership Programs at Central Michigan University. In 2016, he served as a Fellow for the Summer Institute for Intercultural Communication. He has been a Featured Speaker for the Appalachian Leadership Forum and provides Leadership Development workshops around the country. He has a great passion for travel and will spend next summer visiting all seven continents to create awareness and fundraise for those with Multiple Sclerosis.