week 11 coaching course

We are getting close to the end of the semester!  We’ve spent the past 10 weeks working on the “Story” and “Purpose” parts of the SPARCK Model.  We will spend the next couple of weeks focused on “Aspirations.”

This week, students will be developing their Personal Philosophy – a statement that define how they will live their best life.  This is a BRAND NEW activity, created on Monday and refined the past two days.  I was inspired by a presentation by Leslie Ducay and Madeline Anderson from the University of Tennessee-Knoxville, providing a resource to help advisors create their own advising philosophy.  Thank you Leslie and Madeline!

At the start of class, the students are given a 25-question self-evaluation titled, “Are You Living Your Best Life.”  It’s really easy – they just have to answer yes or no to each question; they are instructed to answer truthfully in order to be most effective.  Here’s a link to the assessment: are you living your best life quiz, 10-24-18.  Once completed, they are asked to count the number of “no” responses; the average would be around 10 “no” responses.  The range of responses is interesting – one student shared that he had only 1 “no” response (issues with his past), while another student in the same class shared that she had 20 “no” responses.  More on that later…

After a brief discussion about the responses, we introduce the Personal Philosophy activity.  Here’s a synopsis of the activity:

“The Personal Philosophy Statement activity will have you answer such questions as: “What do I believe is important?”, “What do I believe is possible?”, and “What is my strategy for living?” The elements of your Personal Philosophy are centered around your beliefs, concepts, ideas, and attitudes. It is a declaration of your set of standards that will help you endure the curves, dips and twists of your life. Think of your personal philosophy as a map designed just for you. It’s your compass, your true north star. Only you can understand it. Only you can navigate it. Ultimate, your Personal Philosophy Statement is how you define how you want to become the best version of yourself. Treat it as the most indispensable tool to make better choices and lead a more inspired life.”

To get them in the right mindset, we share this Peanuts/Charlie Brown video on Personal Philosophy (believe it or not): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FAfV31M5_tM

Instead of 20 seconds to come up with a Personal Philosophy, we give them 20-25 minutes.  They are provided a handout with instructions and worksheet, which you can see here: personal philosophy, draft 2 and bill example, 10-22-18.  We created four categories for them to explore – Personal Lens, Practice, Style, and Intention – in developing their statement.  The most important two requirements: (1) it must be 50 words or less, and (2) it must be written in the present tense.  We also provide them with an example worksheet (the one I created for myself) and several example Personal Philosophy statements.  Here’s my Personal Philosophy statement:

“Live with exceptional health. Be 1% better every day. Dream big, live with purpose, inspire others. Optimize lives, actualize potential. Contribute to something bigger than yourself. Treat relationships with grace and integrity. Be grateful for the gifts God has given me and for keeping me around to live another day.”

So far, students have been able to complete the activity in the allotted time; if there’s enough time, we also asked for a volunteer or two to share their statement with the class.  And the students who’ve shared have created some very powerful statements.  Truly inspiring!

Once they complete their statements, we ask the students five questions to ensure that their statement truly defines how they will live to become the best version of themselves.  They are:

  • Does my personal philosophy represent the best of me?
  • Is this statement about me and how I want to live each day?
  • Does this statement resonate with me being my authentic self?
  • Does this statement make me feel energized and come alive?
  • Is this statement something that I will commit to practice every day?

It is our hope that it’s a statement that can guide their lives in a powerful way.  I share that it’s much easier for me to make decisions because of my statement, since it incorporates my values, my life motto, and the things that are most important to me.  We emphasize that this is a living, breathing document, one that changes as your life circumstances changes.  I’ve modified my statement several times, just because “life happens.”  Right now, it resonates with my heart and my soul, so it works.

To close the session, we share that their Personal Philosophy statement can be used as a self-coaching tool.  We share with them the following: Ask yourself this question when you have to make a decision that significantly impacts your life, especially if your statement IS your guide to how you want to live your life every day:

  • “In this moment, will this action/decision move me towards living my personal philosophy and ultimately, expressing the best version of myself?”

So, the student that stated that she had 20 “no” responses shared with me after class that she realized that she “needs to devote her time to reconnect with God.  That is what’s missing in her life right now.”  Brought me to tears…  I gave her a hug; she left with a HUGE smile on her face!

If you don’t have one, I challenge you to: (1) take the “Are You Living Your Best Life” Quiz, and (2) come up with your own Personal Philosophy,  How’s that for a great activity for today?


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