Why being the exception should not be your rule.

Why being the exception should not be your rule.

Ever seen a sign at someone’s desk that reads, “Poor Planning on your part does not constitute an emergency on my part.”? 

I really do enjoy working with students and helping them to achieve their goals.  I love the “a-ha” moments when it all seems to click and students learn something about themselves and succeed in ways they never thought they could.  On the other hand I am just as crushed when I see one of my students struggle or fail because of something silly like a missed date, requirement, or misunderstanding.  But win or fail, we learn from each circumstance.  The lesson might be hard but it is valuable and often times that mistake is not repeated — an achievement in itself.  Today’s Lesson is “Exceptions should NOT be your RULE! 

In my role as Senior Program Coordinator for Crosby Scholars Iredell County I often have to ask a question of hundreds of students.  The answer then drives processes.  Every time I send out an email I hold my breath.   Then I hear it, my phone signals that I am getting a response.  Every time I hear the phone ding, I know it is an exception.  Want to know how I know?  Nowhere in the instructions did I say to send me an email to respond.  The reason being, I can’t keep up with 300 individual emails.

I started this blog wanting to help students understand that always asking for exceptions and doing things in a special way just for them is not really doing them any favors.  In today’s world everyone needs an exception, an accommodation, and special excuses.  I am not talking about IEP or 504 accommodations.  Asking for exceptions because of learning differences is one of my exceptions.  (Ha Ha)

You know what I am talking about.  Go into a room of 25 students.  Announce that you need them to perform a specific task on a specific day at a specific time.  Sit back and watch the 5 – 10 hands fly up for the – I can’t make that day, that time does not work for me, I really don’t like that task is there something else I can do.  I am here to say — NO.  Sometimes if you want to benefit from a program or a job or an experience, you are going to have to make it a priority.  Go back to that room of 25 kids.  Take a look at the 15 to 20 students that said, yes, I am here, I am ready, tell me what I need to do to benefit.  These kids are the rule.  Sometimes it is good to be the rule.  For the kids that take every opportunity and meet the requirements and engage with interest and sincerity.  Those are the kids that are going to succeed.  Not only in Crosby Scholars, but in LIFE. 

This does not mean that I am looking for a cookie cutter world where everyone is the same and everyone is alike.  I strongly believe we THRIVE on diversity.  Different views, different ideas, different backgrounds, bring something special to the world.  Let’s take those 15 – 20 students that did not ask for exceptions but each have different educational goals and paths.  I love helping kids explore what can be next and know that they don’t have to follow the crowd.  They will succeed and thrive if they follow their own path.  Checking the boxes of a designed and planned program will only enhance their ability to be successful. 

When did we start thinking that groups, organizations and programs have to bend and sway for individual likes and dislikes?  I believe that we too quickly jump into participation to look good, or check a box, or build that resume.  I would offer that we should be selective of our time and participation and only engage in activities that bring value and fit with your goals, desires & passions.  Ask these questions?  What is the value of the Program? Why do you want to participate in the Program? What do you hope to get from participation?  Do I have time and capacity to see this through?  What are the alternatives if I DO NOT participate in the program?

Your time is valuable. If you do choose to participate I suggest you try to be the rule.  Complete the requirements, participate, engage, and use the resources.  If you don’t someone else will.  Stand out in a positive way and not as the person that always needs a workaround.

In the game of college admissions, scholarships and jobs, there is always an application process.  There are specific steps and processes that need to be followed.  If you are looking for exceptions, don’t be surprised if you do not get them.  When 42,000 students are applying for 9,000 spots, this is not the time to not follow the process or look for an exception.  You will be remembered, but for all the wrong reasons.

Think about how excited you will be when you get that acceptance letter!