The work is difficult. Overcoming obstacles, facing rejection, exploring the unknown--many of us need a narrative to fuel our forward motion, something to keep us insisting on the next semester, on better results, on pursuing work that matters even more.
The fuel you choose, though, determines how you will spend your days. You will spend far more time marinating in your fuel than you will actually doing breakthrough work. Richard Feynman was famously motivated by the joy of figuring things out. His scientific journey (which earned him a Nobel Prize) also provided him with truly wonderful days.
Here is a partial list, in alphabetical order, of narratives light and dark that can serve as fuel to push us to do work that others might walk away from:
They all work. Some of them leave you wrecked, some create an environment of possibility and connection and joy. Up to you.
by Seth Godin
Ask this question often.
Several times a day, at least.
Endogeneity is a fancy term for confusing cause and effect. For not being clear about causation and correlation.
It's one reason why smart people make so many mistakes. We think A leads to B, so more A gets more B. While A and B may have been related in the past, though, it's not at all clear that improving A is going to do anything about B.
There is, for example, an extraordinarily high correlation between per capita cheese consumption and the risk of being strangled by your bedsheets while you sleep:
That doesn't mean that eating less cheese is going to help you not die in bed.
by Seth Godin
By Heather Medley
People who exercise gratitude are 25 percent happier according to a study conducted at the University of California at Davis.
Raising my kids to be grateful is important to me. I don’t want to raise selfish, entitled adults.
When I’m around my children I point out what others have done for them–a lot. I remind them to say thank you – It is a “Magic word” after all - and express gratitude in their words and actions. I share stories with them about people who act selflessly, who work hard and who live humbly.
I point out where I’m grateful to them.
And, if someone exercises gratitude with something I’ve done I share with my kids how much their gratitude meant to me.
Positive reinforcements make a difference.
Gratitude increases our happiness, improves our relationships, and makes us healthier.
And it does so reliably. Over 40 research studies have shown the same thing – gratitude rocks.
PRACTICE MAKES GRATEFUL
One year before Christmas when my children were little, I made them practice opening gifts before we went to our "big Chirstmas" with my family. I went and got things from their rooms, things they’ve already owned, things they weren’t grateful for anymore, and I put them in gift bags. I called them all into the living room, sat them down, and handed them each a sparkly bag. When they pulled toys they already owned out of the bag, their heads shot up and their eye brows furrowed. Then I reminded them that they did like their items and we practiced looking happy, saying thank you immediately, saying at least one way that we would use our new gift or why we liked it.
It made a huge difference.
Months before this holiday drill, one of the children had a birthday party and ripped through the gifts so quickly, no one had time to appreciate the gifts, thank the giver – if we even had time to figure out what was from which guest – and certainly no time to express our gratefulness for their presence and present.
I started a hashtag a few years ago that I used as we re-posted social media stories from scholars, who were mostly studying abroad or graduating, reflecting on how they arrived at that point. From the moment of our first Terry Advising sessions during Red Raider Orientation, I begin to stress the character traits we expect to see from scholars at Texas Tech. I often remind them that there is nothing they did or could do to EARN or deserve $120,000 from a stranger. It’s a gift. It’s a blessing.
WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO WITH IT?
One of my favorite stories to share is that of Payton Manning, first round, 1998 pick from Tennessee. He was the highest paid draft pick of all time. Hindsight says the Indianapolis Colts made the right decision, drafting Manning and signing him to a six-year, $47.7 million contract with an $11.6 million signing bonus. People very quickly started asking him what he was going to do with all of that money. He responded, “Earn it.”
Manning is a first-ballot Hall of Famer after wrapping up an incredible 17-year career. He threw for 54,848 yards and 198 touchdowns while leading the Colts to the playoffs 11 times and the Super Bowl twice -- winning one -- during his 13 years with the franchise. He has been paid more than any other player in NFL history, and it is not even close.
I’d say that he earned it. Tech Terry Scholars will earn it too.
Their stats will include service in student organizations, academic leadership, and investments in the community. As alumni, they will give back and serve the communities in which they live, their alma maters, and the foundation.
Gratitude works when you’re grateful for something real. Feeling euphoric and spending money like you just won the lottery when you didn’t is probably going to make you real poor, real quick. But what are you actually grateful for? It’s a question that could change your life.
Thinking about those things for which we are truly grateful can have an enormous impact. Try one of these to get started:
- Gratitude Journal
At the end of each day, write down – or even just say aloud - a few items for which you are grateful.
I once read a book, One Thousand Gifts by Ann VosKamp, where she catalogs these gifts. They are the ordinary and every day things like “morning shadows across old floors, jam piled high on the toast, cry of blue jay from high in the spruce” (those are numbers 1, 2 and 3 on the list). One Thousand Gifts is about seeing the need for gratitude and then learning to express it not just in spite of life’s trials, but even through them. She refers to this as eucharisteo, a Greek word for thanksgiving.
It is a brilliant and potentially life changing exercise.
Thankfulness feels good, it’s good for you and it’s a blessing for the people around you, too. It’s such a win-win-win that I’d say we have cause for gratitude.
It's difficult to find the influence to make a difference. In our group, there are probably people with more diverse experiences than you, more scholarly knowledge than you, even more accomplishments than you. The same is true about those in your academic college.
But there's one place where you can make your mark: Your attitude.
You can bring more generosity of spirit, more enthusiasm, more kindness, more resilience, more positive energy, more bravery and more of the right stuff to the room than anyone else, at least right now. Because you choose to.
That can be what you stand for.
These aren't soft skills. They're real.
Adapted from Seth Godin
by Heather Medley
It can be such an awkward dilemma to know how to address someone on campus. Dr.? Professor? Instructor? First name or both names? I hired a student assistant once, who had been my student when I taught high school English and journalism. She couldn’t bring herself to call me “Heather”, but she knew that the others in the office would give her a hard time if she continued to call me, “Mrs. Medley,” the name she knew me by when we first met. For YEARS she just called me “Boss.” I didn’t feel like a boss. I hoped we were a team. Most of the time she didn’t call me anything and would just launch into her story or question…
I’ve had a few names throughout the years. Changing my name after getting married was tough for me. I actually made my maiden name legally my middle name. I guess we get used to our names or being named by a particular aspect of ourselves. “Oh, you’re the Terry Lady!” is one that I hear frequently these days, in addition to the “Girl Scout leader” or my kids’ mom... you get the picture.
On Being a Mom
Being a mom is a role I’m extremely proud of and it’s a huge part of my identity. I have quite a few children and I’m very active in their lives and – as you can imagine, in the lives of their friends.
It first begins when you're pregnant, the doctor and staff start referring to you as mom. So at first it's disorienting. Someone has put you in a role you don't have experience in, and is talking to you like you're in charge. And that's because you are.
Then of course the baby is born, and everyone in the universe starts calling you mom. At this point it's a Fact, and you're exhausted, and it's overwhelming, but there are things to do now. It's like Day 1 of your new job, that lasts the rest of your life and no one has trained you properly for, and you're supposed to just ask if you have questions.
The first time they smile at you and thereafter, every time their face lights up when they see you, it's exactly the same as them calling you mom. The next major milestone is when the baby is old enough to actually call you mom. It evokes a sense of awe and responsibility and frankly giggly joy -- emotions are contagious, and a happy baby just POURS happiness all over everyone nearby.
A few years ago, I once again that someone had put me in a role I didn't have experience in, and is they were talking to me like I was in charge. And that's because I am.
Many new Terry’s ask me, “What do I call you?” and I typically answer with a list of options, followed with “it doesn’t really matter.” Titles don’t matter to me a whole lot. I have one though that gets me every time I hear it. It really started with a group of transfer students that started jokingly calling me “Mama Medley.” I assumed it was because I meddled too much, asking lots of questions, and giving lots of advice.
Apparently, there are lists of reasons people call you mom and all the cool kids are calling their favorite celebs, “Mom” these days according to BuzzFeed.
I could write a long creed on this and wax poetic, but really, I just want to say it feels good. It feels really, really good.
In a bizarre time in a student’s life, I’m happy to play a role as the Terry Mom, to help when it’s needed. In the document, “The Terry Foundation University Responsibilities,” the first section on the 3 page list is Family Environment and Student Organization with the first item charging the campus coordinator to “Foster a family environment for Terry Scholars on campus” and is followed by a bullet point list of ways to execute this charge.
I probably take the “Terry Family” thing to an extreme. I keep tissues in my office for the big things. I have a strict no crying by yourself policy. I’m always ready to rejoice with students over the seemingly small things too. I get protective and offended, proud as a peacock, and mad-sad for them and with them.
With parents geographically separated from their children, some by a few blocks and some by many hours, I’m happy to be a voice of reason, a safe place to fall, a shoulder to cry on.
Yesterday I took a scholar to lunch on her birthday. Today, I told one which dress shoes to wear. I’ve helped plan engagements. Took one home to my house from the surgery center for recovery one summer. Knocked on dorm doors to check on them when they’re sick. Answered, “What if?” a million times. Talked through budding relationships and break ups, professor issues and roommate drama. I was even honored to stand in as the mother-of-the-groom at a wedding (I love me some Terry weddings).
It is, of course, necessary to play the part effectively and within parameters. If my children called someone else mom, it might bother me. But the more that I think about it, I hope that I would be thrilled that someone else treated my children in a way that inspired that kind of relationship. With ages from 14-7, they have had quite a few amazing role models. As a matter of fact, one of my kids called a teacher, “mom,” by accident and her sons started calling him their brother! It’s a hoot. She even let him host his 14th birthday party at her barn.
I just hung up with a scholar who graduated our program two years ago. He makes me laugh. Even though he is a second year Medical School student, I still remember the first time I met him over grilled cheese sandwiches and when we was voted the Graduate Vice President of SGA and the guy who felt the extreme responsibility of serving on his first Terry interview panel. He's still "one of mine." Always will be.
Right now, I’m getting play-by-play texts from a scholar who is road tripping for a week full of interviews for his first “real” job after graduate school and I’m just so excited for him. I just wish it was closer to “home.”
Dale Carnegie said, "There is no sweeter sound to any person’s ear than the sound of their own name…" I whole heartedly disagree.
Earlier this week I pulled up interview photos of freshmen who had just taken their last final of the year. Looking at the faces of their younger selves reminded them of how much they had changed. Working in and studying Student Affairs, you learn about Arthur Chickering's Seven Vectors that theorize the "tasks" that students must go through while developing their identity. While I know that the students were taken aback by seeing their younger faces and remembering the day of the interview, I'm sure they did not think about third of Chickereing's vectors, movement through autonomy toward interdependence.
For traditional students, and even some non-traditional, college is as a sequence of developmental tasks and stages when biology and psychology converge. It qualitatively changes thinking, feeling, behaving, valuing, and relating to others and oneself (http://students.berkeley.edu/committees/bc/SAStudentDev.doc).
First Vector: Developing Competence.
The three types of competence that college students develop:
So let's talk about the first competency of the first vector...
If you're in college, moving through these vectors, wanting to develop and grow intellectually, you want to know:
What do the smart kids do?
Some think they are smart because of something deep inside of them called "intelligence" or "IQ" but people do not have "intelligence" stuffed somewhere inside their head making it easy for them to learn things. For most people, the difference between excelling and failing is almost entirely determined by what world you live in, and how you act in that world.
Most smart kids are smart because they live in a world where being smart works and being dumb doesn't. If you want to be smart too, you should spend as much time as possible in that sort of world. Be surrounded by the right kind of people and avoid the wrong kind of distractions, and you will start to reflect the world you are part of.
Here are five important behaviors characteristic of smart kids:
2) They do not attend class as tourists.
Smart kids don't just sit in class; they interact in class, even in lectures. If they cannot interact with their professors, then they interact with their peers or they interact with themselves — guessing what the professor might say next, trying to tie points together, trying to make connections with other things they know and other experiences they have had. Sometimes it is a struggle to pay attention in a class,. Find ways to keep paying attention to things, even if the speaker is not going out of his or her way to engage you, you need to put in the effort to engage. You have no idea how important this skill can be for the rest of your life.
3) When they study, they just study (most of the time).
Smart kids study by not doing other things. Let's say you have five classes, and that each class requires two hours of real studying out of class, per week, to do well (probably a good bet for your freshman classes, but a bad bet for your senior-year classes). That's only 10 hours of studying a week... no problem, right? But now let’s say that while you study you text, and watch TV. Now only 1/4 of your effort is going towards studying, and you need 40 hours. That is not going to happen. Ditch the distractions.
4) They talk to their friends and family about what they are learning in school.
If you do not want to spend some of your free time talking about school, you are doing something wrong. How is it that smart kids get in so many hours of studying? Some lock themselves in their room, true. But many just have friends who like to talk about school. In college you have new-found freedom to learn about things you want. Join a club that has to do with your major. Approach professors after class. Find ways to talk about the stuff you are learning in class with other people who are trying to learn the same thing.
5) They understand that different courses require different types of studying.
Smart kids know every course isn't the same. In college, you will need to adjust to many different professors who have different ways of running their class and different ways of evaluating your accomplishment. This is just like in real life! (Except substitute "boss" for "professor.") You should try to determine how class is run, and how you will be graded, and plan your studying accordingly. Ask other Terry Scholars. Learn about faculty before you can sign up for classes.
There were classes where I never read the book and classes where I always read before class - and I was an English major! The type of studying that lets you have a meaningful in class discussion and write a good essay is different than the type of studying that lets you fill out a factual multiple choice test. And by the way, if you are in a class that grades with essays... don't expect to do well if you were not keeping up with the discussions.
Your Part of the Deal
Don't be another student who expects class time to be wasted doing what you should be doing outside of class. It is your responsibility to become part of the wider campus community. It is your responsibility to be actively present in class. It is your responsibility to arrange your life so you can get out-of-class work done. It is your responsibility to bounce ideas and thoughts off of those around you. It is your responsibility to study and show up to class prepared, whatever that is in each class.
by Stephen Perry
One of my life goals is and has been since I was in Junior High was to graduate from Texas Tech. I, like many others, have taken an unconventional path to that goal, and because of that I now find myself in a position to give a few pointers.
The first of which is that I made one of the best mistakes ever by not going straight into college from High School. For me, and probably many others out there, I wanted to both experience the world and go to college. Not that it is impossible to do both simultaneously but I think I would have fallen in love with the idea of traveling if I did it during college and dropped out. Instead, I joined the military and gained countless experiences that helped shaped me into the person I am today.
Another nugget of wisdom I wish I knew before coming back to college is what exactly the “Terry Family” really is. I have a family of my own, and as a non-traditional student I immediately said to myself “Self,” (cause that’s how we all do it, right?) “you don’t have time or a need for the Terry Family, I mean I’m sure they are great and all but…” BIG MISTAKE! The Terry Family is more than just a bunch of people getting together for some meetings and saying the superficial “Hello” or “How are you?” It is a group of people who genuinely care for each other and are ALWAYS happy to help you with anything. Coming from the military I have a relatively jaded view of the people/world we live in, and of course any group with have those people but the Terry’s are exceptionally awesome! I have only been in school for a semester now and I can tell you already that I will keep in touch with more Terry’s than I will any other group.
To sum it up into a few words I’ll close with this; When you hear “get involved” don’t look for a reason to not dive in headfirst with the Terry Family. That is a mistake, especially for my fellow transfers. Despite having experienced a little bit more of life outside the comfort of home, the one thing you should have learned by now is that the people in your dugout is what makes the difference between a losing team and a championship team.
By Kristina Hahn
Well-being is often thought of as only pertaining to physical health. But it isn’t just physical; it’s also mental and emotional. College is rough, hectic and incredibly stressful. It’s important to take time out for yourself. All of this, and then some, is something that I wish I could have implemented in the beginning of my college life.
Make yourself a routine and give yourself 3 days out of the week that you will for sure exercise. Exercise has been shown to have some pretty important benefits to a person, all of which are vital for any college kid.
I’m not going to preach it like I’m yo’ momma, but, eating well is truly important. Sure, you might not gain the Freshmen 15 since Tech is so ridiculously huge and you could walk off anything terrible you ate a lunch, but, remember: what you put in is what you get out. If you find yourself in a stressful situation and then you have a cookie in your hand, switch that out for some strawberries or a banana. It is best to eat fruits instead of processed sweets. I switched to drinking a fruit protein shake when I had a craving while doing schoolwork.
Filling my body with crap left me tired and feeling gross. The better you eat, the better you will feel. It takes a few weeks, but you will overall feel much better.
Some ways you can eat well in college is to invest in a crock-pot and scour Pinterest for recipes. Pinterest is an amazing resource for a lot of clean, healthy crockpot recipes that are ridiculously easy to make. So easy a caveman could do it!
Invest in a multivitamin and a probiotic. Obviously, I’m not a doctor…nor am I even pre-med. I’m purely going off what my mom has told me to do since basically infancy. Multivitamins will help make up anything you might be lacking in your diet, and probiotics will build up the good bacteria in your body so you won’t get all the cyclical sickness that seem to plague Lubbock around test time. Every year, it’s been the same stuff because we tend to sleep less and not eat a balanced diet. When you sleep, your body has time to repair itself, which is essential to healing. Best way to deal with it is to prevent it!
Make sure you sleep!
Mental and Emotional Health
Just because you’re in college doesn’t mean you can’t have time for fun. It is important that you do so! Make sure you go out, paint the town red (within reason, of course) and bask in those moments when school isn’t the only thing on your mind. The trick here is balance; don’t let your academics suffer.
Emotional health ties in with your mental health (duh). If you find yourself buckling down under the stress, take a time out in a way that best suits you. Some suggestions are going to the gym, immersing yourself in a favorite hobby or embrace the latest craze and grab a coloring book and color away. If you feel yourself slipping, know that your Terry Family is ALWAYS there to help you in any way that we can.
by Marcus D Gonzales
How is it different than what you expected?
The transition to college was definitely not as challenging as I had expected. I made friends right off the bat. I really believed this helped alleviate the stress that comes with starting fresh somewhere new—especially five hours away from home with people whom you have never met before. I also never expected to have so much free time. It is important to keep yourself occupied. Since I am in the UMSI program, I picked up a volunteer shift at University Medical Center in the Emergency Center, and I became heavily involved in our Tech Terry Scholars organization.
What do you wish someone would have told you?
I wish that someone would have told me that studying is of the utmost importance in college. In high school, I never really had to try. Even in my AP classes, I could get away with studying for a test the night before, or even hours before the test, and still get my A. However, in college, I have had to make adjustments to my studying habits, or lack thereof. I try to study a little each night, even if I do not have a test coming up. I have learned that cramming just is not the way to go about things anymore.
How are the classes/professors different than high school/community college?
If you are in the Honors College, you will get to enjoy smaller classes, kind of what you’re used to from high school, and get to know your professors so much better. Personally, I thrive in that sort of environment, as opposed to the huge lecture hall classes. You make friends, which are helpful if you need notes, someone to study with, or tutoring. Also, getting to know your professors has its perks. If you need a little extra time to get something done, extra tutoring, or any sort of help, honors professors tend to be more willing to be of assistance and be more understanding. Try to avoid lecture hall/auditorium classes, as you will be just one of about two-hundred and fifty. You are at a tier-one university now, so you know what you are getting yourself into. These classes are not easy, but you are more than able to succeed, so long as you have the right mindset and take care of business.
Where/How do you study?
I prefer to study in my room. I close my door, turn the TV onto the news (I know, that’s kinda nerdy), turn on some country music, and get to work. I try to avoid cramming, and instead review material from that day’s class. Also, it is never a bad idea to work ahead if you have a firm grasp on the material that you are currently covering.
What do love most about college/Texas Tech?
I love everything about Texas Tech. The campus is absolutely beautiful—it was once described as “the most beautiful college campus this side of the Mississippi”. Not to mention, we’re kind of a big deal—we are now Tier One university, have some of the top business, engineering, and medical schools in the nation, and some of the best sport teams.
What are you looking forward to during college/after graduation?
I am looking forward to attending Medical School. I have always had a passion for helping others and I plan on using medicine as my way of doing that.
by Marcus D Gonzales
Top Ten List of Best Advice
5. Please, DO NOT take an 8AM class!
6. Get your sleep. 7-8 hours of sleep is recommended to maintain a healthy mind and body. Do not sacrifice your health for your grades. What good is a degree if you were miserable in the process of earning it? Which leads me to my next tip…
7. AVOID 8AM classes!
8. Communicate effectively. Need help? Ask. Simple as that. Just be courteous and professional when asking for it.
9. Okay, I guess it’s alright to take the occasional 8AM class, but only if it is absolutely necessary and there is no way to avoid it. Be sure you are a “morning person” and that you place an emphasis on hygiene. No one likes sitting next to someone with morning breath or B.O.
10. I saved the best for last! Most importantly, HAVE FUN! You only have 4 years in college. (Well, more than that if you choose to pursue a graduate or professional degree, but let’s be honest, you won’t have time for fun then.) Make time for spending time with friends! Go out! Have a movie night! Go watch our Red Raiders play! Explore Lubbock, or just campus itself! Take a road trip! These are supposed to be the best years of your life—make them so! I have already made some great memories with lifelong friends during my short time here! These people you will meet, your fellow Terrys, they will become more than your friends—they will become family!