Out of Our Comfort Zone

Living and practicing according to my new passion, positive psychology, frequently has me outside my realm of familiarity.   Right now I’m at the first annual Appreciative Education conference in Myrtle Beach SC. I’m looking for a professional home for my interest in creating a positive university and curriculum in higher education.

The conference, though very eye-opening and informative, has me surrounded by folk who are in the related but different field of appreciative inquiry. Like positive psychology practitioners, they are practicing and embodying a philosophy of positive inquiry and inclusion, especially in the area of student affairs and advising.

I’m feeling like a fish out of water. The backgrounds are different. The language is different. The world view is different. I feel uncomfortable.

I’m not sure what I expected. This whole journey into positive psychology practice has made me uncomfortable but exhilarated. I’ve had several dreams in the past several months where I’m sliding/flying/driving/barreling out of control to some destination, where I eventually safely arrive. A fitting metaphor.

However, I was gratified and in my comfort zone yesterday when attending a session on Campbell’s Hero’s Journey, which I feel is very much a part of our daily lives though often on a subconscious or supra-conscious scale. A participant suggested that we could potentially choose to view each day, in addition to our life, in terms of the Hero’s Journey cycle of separation-initiation-return. Indeed, Campbell’s Hero puts herself out there to pursue her calling, encountering challenges and obstacles, but also help along the way. The theme reflects a life journey, but also maybe a journey that we should intentionally undertake each day.

One of our distinguished alumni recently told our students to do something every day that scares you just a little.   This young man, so accomplished at a young age, is a hero in both the figurative and literal sense. I believe these words of wisdom reflect an invitation to us all to pursue our Journey on a daily basis.

What will you do today that will separate you from your old life/way of thinking? What trial or challenge will you endure in order to grow and return “home”, in some way different?

Today, I’m presenting my construct of the Hero’s Journey and how it relates to student career development to this conference of professional advisors and student affairs thought leaders. I can’t decide if I’m really confident and excited, or terrified. More like both.

I don’t know what the outcome will be obviously, but I will return home tomorrow somewhat changed, but definitely enhanced by the engaged and talented crowd here. Thank you Appreciative Education participants for helping me along on my Journey today!

(a special hello and thank you to Cheri!)