As some of you know, I spent the end of 2017, including Christmas, in a hospital bed. While my stay in the hospital was not directly related to stress, it was definitely a metaphor for why I am constantly stressed: I hold myself to a standard that is simply, unattainable. And most of our clients do too. Or at least that is the case before we meet them.
A few days before Christmas, I went to a Soul Cycle class. It took a smooth three minutes to realize that we were not going to be messing around, but I didn’t stop. I wanted to get through the entire 45-minute class. Although I haven’t run competitively in about ten years, I felt that I was in good enough shape to finish the class, full-tilt. As soon as the class finished and I took my first step off the bike, my legs nearly collapsed underneath me. I could stand long enough to stretch and I hobbled back to my apartment. By the next day, I was clutching onto the railings on the staircases as I went up and down the stairs, and panting as I went to stand from my desk. By the next day, I couldn’t bend my knees to even walk.
I have certainly been sore before. There was always that transition from cross country season to indoor track season when some of us attempted to move our slow-twitch muscles to fast-twitch as fast as possible. I remember my abs being so sore that I would roll out of my bed in the dorms to avoid sitting straight up.
But this soreness was different.
It turned out that I had rhabdomyolysis and had to stay in the hospital until my kidneys were safe again. It was a scary and lonely experience, and I don’t wish that on anyone.
Often times we have clients come to us with these sort of rhabdo expectations. They want to do more than what they are capable of doing. In many ways, it is our role to be the coach I wish I had when I stepped into that Soul Cycle class: someone to say that in order to reach my fitness goals, I need only complete half the class and work towards building a foundation to get to that other goal. In other ways, it is our role to be the coach that says when we put the expectations in front of our abilities and ultimate goals, we run the chance of losing all of our abilities to do anything.
Here is what I mean: the ultimate goal of college is to attain the skills necessary to pursue one’s passion, hopefully one that pays. It isn’t to be able to brag to the neighbors, meet a celebrity, find a spouse, or get easier access to a favorite college football team. While I think whatever motivates a student is important, we don’t want to do so at the expense of the goal. I can’t tell you the number of students and families that come to us after all of their applications have been rejected, asking if there is anything they can do. Meanwhile, these are folks that only applied to the Ivy League schools. The first step is to put the goal first.
I also say this because our goals for clients are to ensure they graduate from college, in as close to four years, with as little debt as possible. Those goals are not attainable at every college in the world. That is an unfortunate circumstance of the state of education today. Getting to those goals for our students may mean that they are applying to schools that the neighbor doesn’t know about or a school that does not have a football team. But it will be a school that sets them up for success.
This year, we bid farewell to clients as they headed to Berkeley, UCLA, University of Tampa, USC, St Joseph’s, Penn, Arizona State, Univ of Arizona, Univ of Redlands, and Univ of San Francisco. And we saw acceptance letters from Barnard, all of the UCs, St Mary’s, Santa Clara Univ and so many more.
Thus far this year, the Class of 2018 has been admitted to Penn, Univ of San Francisco, St Mary’s, and many more. We have future engineers, chefs, business leaders, physicists, and activists coming, and I am so excited to see what they do.
As a firm, we also did tremendous work on the app, revised our website, and saw huge growth in the number of students and families that we service. We held more workshops than ever before and refined our strategy even more. We welcomed more staff members including tutors, case managers, and writing coaches. We’re keeping our eye on that ultimate goal too and keeping the expectations at a place that is within our abilities, and are so grateful that all of you have been along for the ride.
Wishing you all the best for 2018!