Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Back To School

Monday I started a new adventure which

You may think I tend to use the word "adventure" frequently. The Post office, Alaska, dressing room - all adventures in their own right. 

I traveled back to the place where I 
founded my professional passion, 
discovered my need to sleep in cold rooms and
met two of my four bridesmaids. 
And a sister-in-law, actually. 

All Hail, Our Old Purdue. 

It's been several years since I've been back. 
The parking lots that we'd cut through, late to class, are now giant brick buildings with Last Names plastered on the side. 
Construction cones were everywhere. 
There was a bistro, deli, kitchen or smoothie shop on every corner. 
And there were just a lot of yoga pants. 

But as I drove down State Street through the pouring rain on Monday afternoon, two Asians darted in front of my car like little clueless cats, causing me to say words that I'd rather not type. 
Suddenly it hit me: the place really hasn't changed at all. 

I've enrolled in an Executive AgriBusiness Program through Purdue so I gain the ability to see numbers on a sheet of paper and actually understand just what all of those digits mean. 
You betcha:
Back to School, Back to School,

A strange feeling came over me as I climbed Chauncy Hill  (in my car) and entered campus.
So many strangers. 
Different languages. States. Countries. GPAs. Backgrounds. Experiences. 
I remembered just how little confidence I had when I went to school here. It was a quiet, small lack of confidence that usually spoke to me the morning of exams which were held in lecture halls the size of my hometown. 
At that point in my life, Purdue was the biggest, greatest place I had ever seen. 
Familiar intimidation set in for a gal who works and lives in the very state in which she was raised. 
Doing what she loves. 
Why was I so intimidated by my Alma Mater? The place I called home for four years? 
Going to my first class at 29 felt much like it did at 19. 
Only I had a few more hours of sleep in me this time around and I knew how to dress. 

Lecture began Tuesday at 8:00 AM sharp. 
I had highlighters ready, my phone on silent and the perfect seat. 
I loved it. 
Even being completely intimidated by those around me. 
How much did they already know that I didn't?
But then...
It was like Devine intervention. Or just too much coffee and a nervous stomach.
I began challenging the Doctor presenting the course. 
His idea was that history has a minimal influence on strategic planning of a business. 
I disagreed, and somehow found the guts to tell him.

And that is when this blog entry came to fruition.
I challenged (what I thought was) the Doctor's lack of appreciation for lessons learned in our history. 
His rebuttal: 
You should always care about your history.
It built who you are today.
But remember, the rear view mirror of your car is much smaller than the windshield, and for good reason.
If you spend all of your time looking back, you're liable to get into a real mess as you try to move forward.

Instantly, a post I had read on Facebook Tuesday morning made sense. 

Why was I - again - intimidated by the brilliant people on this large campus?
I have done some exciting things since graduation, even if my name isn't on the side of a billion dollar building...
Who am I to compare myself to others who have completely different experiences, backgrounds, ideals, histories and values?
Or maybe a better question - 
Who are you to compare yourself to those around you?
As I write this, I'm trying to close with some witty saying about looking in the windshield to move forward, paying no attention to the insecurities that may be found in your rear view mirror.
But all I can think about is that Harvard Business Review article that I have yet to read to and the discussion questions I have to be prepared for in just a few hours. 
Darting Asians and my innate ability to procrastinate until the last possible minute: some things really never do change. 

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