Following the release of my latest book 90 Days of Grace, I have had the time to reflect on the Community aspect of the G.R.A.C.E. Acronym. I am intentionally putting the lessons into practice and looking at the do and donts and the benefits and pitfalls to avoid. Enjoy part 1 of the series. 90 Days of Grace: Strategies for Creating a Success Mindset is available on amazon..
Birkbeck week 1
Monday 2nd October could be any other day... except for the fact that I landed at Heathrow airport from Nigeria that morning and by evening, I was in Central London for school. It was the official start date of my MSc at the University of Birkbeck (yes, roll your eyes and ask aloud – Why?!) Many had warned me of the effort it would require. But hey, “I’m organised” I often told them and with my experience in the field and natural love of learning, I assumed it would be a breeze. I was so wrong! The first week was CHALLENGING. And let me just say, it had nothing to do with the course content; it had to do with all the other stuff that is wrapped around the degree: critical thinking, critical writing, referencing… the list goes on. I remember leaving the first lecture thinking I had definitely bitten off more than I could chew. I wondered if throwing the towel early on would save me from some disgrace. That was Monday and I promised myself I would make a decision by the weekend.
Tuesday was very different. I woke up with a feeling of Resilience and opted to take the challenge head on. “Doyin does not quit, Doyin finds a way and makes a way” I chanted all through the day as I buried my head into books, finding ways to resolve my dilemma. Browsing through my student portal, I found various study skills courses to help fix the weaker areas. Yes, that was going to cost me even more time – a commodity that was definitely in short supply. But then I wondered, “Isn’t this the reason for having a Master’s degree in the first place? Thinking in a certain way, analysis by comparing both sides of the arguments and arriving at a conclusion that I can defend anywhere; because I believe it wholeheartedly?” Apart from the course content, surely my way of engaging in subject discussions should change. My write-ups, talks and books should include more research and I should have an alternate view for every idea I propose. This whole process of not just passing through an institution, but as the cliché goes, ‘allowing the institution pass through you’ is what I consider to be the highest form of community engagement.
Community and engagement – two words I love so much and words which was central to this month’s video chat on Minute Motivation. Yet sometimes I wonder if we really know what it means. I point this out because one might assume community engagement in university to mean ‘making friends with everyone and becoming a social butterfly’. While that is also equally important, I believe the sole aim of maximising community is getting the best of what that community has to offer. So looking at my school as an example, the core of its offering, which cannot be achieved anywhere else but in the confines of the university, is the Master’s degree I enrolled for and, perhaps more importantly, the person I become in the process. This leads on to my primary focus being that I should become a master in my subject.
Talking about primary engagement goals could imply that there might also be secondary ones too. To that I say DEFINITELY. And again using my example, this will include the friends I make, the people I meet and in my case, a healthier lifestyle (I did almost 30,000 steps in a week which is a BIIIIIIIIG achievement for me – I drive everywhere)
So, now that I have fully navigated the ‘challenges’ and chosen to fully engage in my school community, I am sure you want to know how school is going. It’s still early days yet, but my husband must have really enjoyed recording Minute Motivation yesterday. I recorded the chats for November and December and, for the first time, we only did 2 takes each! In fact for the 15-minute message I recorded for a campus fellowship in Nigeria, I only did 1 take. It might have just been that I was very conversant with the topic - or the fact that reading more and attending an average of 8 hours of lectures a week has sharpened my reasoning and vocabulary just a little bit more. This excites me, especially as I’m just a few weeks in! I guess it goes to show the strength of the communities we associate with. Who knows how much more I will be influenced by this time next year? It feels exciting…
Before I begin to bore you, let me end this by encouraging you to write out your top 3 goals and then a list of communities that can foster those goals within you. Then decide and ensure that you plant yourself into one of them this week. Please share your experience as you go. Have a brilliant week!