By Amiee Mueller
Have you noticed changes on campus? How do you navigate those changes and adapt to them so your events are still impactful and well attended? Here are some ideas to help you be a master of change and a creator of enriching experiences.
At the APCA Houston event, Dr. George Kuh said (according to the Department of Labor and Bureau of Labor Statistics), “Every year, 30 million Americans are working jobs that didn’t exist the previous year, and that the percentage of the workforce who are changing jobs in a given year is 33%.” Both are evidence that the world continues to change at an even faster pace than any time previous.
I hired an assistant recently—a junior in college—and I asked her to send some thank you cards. I found out she had never sent anything by postal mail. We had to discuss the way to address an envelope. I was shocked she lacked this knowledge because she is a smart girl. Apparently, it’s just not as relevant to her world.
As the world changes rapidly, the questions we need to ask ourselves are, “Will we change along with it or stand by wishing we didn’t have to?” and “How can we help our students navigate their ever-changing environments successfully?”
Important note: No matter the pace of progress around us, we still choose the pace of our own growth.
CHANGE BEGINS WITH ONE PERSON
When I think of the innovations in the last few decades, I’m reminded it’s more …it’s more important than ever that we continue to develop ourselves so we can adapt and seize new opportunities. important than ever that we continue to develop ourselves so we can adapt and seize new opportunities. The awe-inspiring part of history, to me, is every accomplishment began with one person or one idea. Other than time, nothing and no one moves forward without a person deciding to make progress. Changes in our environment are inevitable, but outside of aging, a person changes by choice.
W. Clement Stone, a poor boy who sold newspapers at 6-yearsold, owned his own newsstand by 13-yearsold, and went on to be a self-made millionaire and subject of the autobiography The Success System That Never Fails, once said, “Little hinges swing big doors.”
My interpretation: small changes can yield large results.
It’s exciting that you can lead others through change and set the example for growth. You could be the person with that next idea that transforms your campus or helps students be successful. What is one change or innovative idea you can implement in your programming?
Don’t feel like you are an innovative person? There are many ways to source ideas including talking with fellow programmers— on campus and on other campuses. When’s the last time you had a conversation with someone from another school?
Important note: You can be the person who not only recognizes changes on your campus, but who also leads the charge in innovating to adapt to those changes.
THE POWER OF FIRSTS
Brendon Burchard said, “After peering into thousands of people’s brains with advanced imaging machines such as the MRI, neuroscientists have concluded that the brain is hardwired to seek and enjoy novelty and challenge. Your brain becomes much more activated when something novel (new) or challenging occurs. It also releases dopamine and energizes your brain to go into ‘let’s figure this out’ mode. And an engaged brain is a happy brain.”
In addition to the positive neuroscience behind it, doing things for the first time is both exciting and memorable. Do you remember your first kiss? Without a doubt. Do you remember your thirtieth? Probably not. Do you remember your first time on a roller coaster? Your first public speech? A child’s first word?
I’ve found the most fun strategy, and the one most magnetic to others, is to create a plan to have firsts. If you’re aiming for something you have yet to experience, then you’ll be going for a first. Will it be the first time you’ve been the lead on a class project? The first time you attend a campus function? The first time you take a fitness class? The first time you defuse a nuclear weapon with only three seconds left on the timer? You haven’t done that yet? Take your first drama class and maybe you’ll get your chance.
What firsts are you giving the students on your campus? Maybe creating that memorable, first-time experience will give them more reason to show up to the next first-time experience you offer or motivate them to get involved at a greater level.
Managing a team of more than 80 members and weekly team meetings, was one of my favorite aspects of my first company. To foster team bonding, to create an environment they’d be a part of by choice rather than obligation, and to enjoy my own work more, I also ran weekly team events. The event followed the meeting and was never mandatory.
Because every week was some new, crazy activity they had never heard of or taken part in before, we had 80% or more of our team join us for those events. To give you an example of some of these activities, they included: Dog Bone Baseball, Spaghetti Dots, Bigger and Better, Photo Road Rallies, Play Doh Wars, Mingle Bingo, Wishing Well, Company Family Feud and many others (email me and I’ll send you a PDF of Team Activities with descriptions).
Most weeks, our members were doing something they had never done before, so they were constantly getting the thrill of new experiences. We had a great team and I credit a lot of our great culture and success to those fun experiences we had together.
Important note: Create new experiences for your people and you’ll be enriching their lives and fostering retention. This means you can also create change.
Dr. Kuh also shared with us just how crucial student involvement in activities outside of classes is to their overall success. I’m sure it’s no surprise to you that it takes a whole campus to educate a student and how important it is that students attend activities on campus.
1. Things will continue to change. We have to learn to adapt and seize the new opportunities it brings. In fact, in some cases, we can lead the change.
2. If our campus is getting lackluster activity results, it may be up to us to instigate innovation. Innovation begins with one person. That person can be you or someone on, or connected to, your programming board. Old ideas or tasks implemented in a new way can still be innovative and effective.
Have you thought about doing a new program on campus or promoting a repeated program in a new way, but since it’s in the land of the unknown, you’re hesitant? Will students show up? Will they like it? Just remember, the fact that it is new may be a little boost to help it be successful. Even if only because your board gets to work on a new project and that rekindles their own fires of promotion and effort, the novelty may be just what you need.
Do not fear the unknown. Embrace it as an enhancement to programming.