On December 14th, 2008, at 9 am, I walked across the stage to accept my B.S. in Social Sciences Secondary Education. When the celebrations subsided, and reality returned:
I was 22, with a new degree, no job, or prospects, in a global financial crisis.
In the immediate weeks following, I made a critical decision - to enjoy the gift of time. In the previous sixteen years, I had been on the clock - from Kindergarten to College - always a class to take or semester to complete. The plan was simple, while the whole world was in a meltdown, spend the time to better my life.
Reading, learning, and exploring was the goal. To allow myself the time to take an inventory of what mattered. Due to the global crisis, a unique freedom existed: I was without the pressures of previous generations to "get a job." My only real obligation was to make a $460 rent payment and have a few bucks for food.
The crisis gave me a moment to relax and free my mind from the constant pace of more. As the world sorted out a financial meltdown, I committed myself to the task of being better upon a return to normalcy. Developing a routine to ensure I would reflect on my time with fondness and value.
I committed to executing the following:
A daily commitment to do something I loved
A daily commitment to better my skills or health
An overall commitment to exploring new ideas and opportunities
It was easy to reach these goals in the beginning, focusing on the endless list of things I had always wanted to do or read. Where the challenge began was the courage to stay the course. To not awake one morning and allow the global reality to become my own. I was committing myself to a goal of optimism and exploration.
In reality, I established a daily workout regime that put me in the best shape of my life. I completed a book (How to Win Friends & Influence People - don't judge a book by its title) that would fundamentally change my perception of human engagement. Most importantly, I began creating new ideas and ventures. One of those ideas would eventually launch my career, provide a college scholarship, a Gubernatorial Fellowship, and transform the fabric of my campus while altering the trajectory of my life.
The global crisis created time to plan, prepare, and execute. Allowing me to reflect on the fundamentals of my life that I had ignored during the daily drumbeat of obligations. If not for a global shutdown, I don't know if I would have achieved the successes I desired.
The Class of 2008 and the Class of 2020 will forever be linked. The graduates of a world in disarray. While it is undeniable, the current pandemic is creating pain and chaos for our friends, family, and society; it does not need to have the same impact on our mindset. In this current state of pause is unlimited potential - to build a business, draft a book, start a project, and explore ourselves.
Consider this the stretch before the race. When the economy restarts and the world resumes, will you reflect on this time knowing you set yourself up for the future, or will it be a memory of a time lost to worrying about a world in chaos?
The choice is yours, and the opportunities are endless!
Congratulations on the gift of time, I hope you use it.
Adam Giery is a speaker, consultant, and entrepreneur, dedicating his life to the field of education. Adam’s passion for education is founded on this experiences as a classically trained educator. The Managing Partner of Strategos Group – a national education consultancy. In this role, he advises public institutions, elected officials, fortune 500 companies, technology startups, angel investors and philanthropies on education policy initiatives and strategic growth opportunities. Learn more about his signature program at ForCollegeForLife.com/adam