AACRAO’s Book Club is a new movement, with the first discussion being one about informing, and appealing to the reader’s empathy. When asked to host the second discussion, I knew that it was time to take the discussion and turn it inwards. A Path Made Clear by Oprah Winfrey is a book that sparks the soul
to navigate its purpose. The discussion tapped into what spoke to you, the reader, and the importance of that “aha“ moment, that “flicker.” It asks one simple question: what is your purpose in life?
This is especially pertinent to AACRAO members. You rarely meet a higher education professional who grew up wanting to be a registrar, or an admissions officer. It’s a common thing to hear--”I just fell into this profession.” So, now
you’re in. But are you finding fulfillment in your life, or is your day just one of completing the tasks, and going through the motions?
The book is organized into ten chapters, each titled with a theme that ties into nature, and led by different contributors who disclose their own personal “aha” moment. These words of wisdom and life lessons were designed to help your path
for passion or to help you to recognize it. I was excited--this book is one that I’ve taught in workshops at my institution, and one that I regularly give as gifts.
The initial chapter is titled “Seed” and is about the process for seeking and learning your true self. Already the discussion attendees were nodding their head in agreement. I suggested making time for yourself each day--for me, was making
sure that I incorporate “me” time for at least thirty minutes before bed. Others mentioned reading for fun, (rather than for work and school), hence the reason why they joined the book club. For some, true self might emerge when your environment
changes--like when the kids go off to college, or move out, and you evaluate your life and career thus far. Make sure you have hobbies and cultivate an identity outside of your role at work.
It’s the “Whispers” that speaks to you wanting to guide you to what electrifies your spirit. Listen to that voice, or nudge in your mind about what you truly desire, and ignore the “clouds” that bring fear from using your
voice to speak your truth and boldly challenge the status quo. One attendee gave an anecdote about starting out in the field, and being the youngest in a room full of Ph.D.s. caused them to clam up at meetings. Know your worth. No matter how out of
place you feel, you and your voice are valuable.
“The Map” is the vision — Oprah said it best, “Don’t just break the ceiling, reach for what’s beyond.” Is every day a check list for you, or are you thinking about the long term goals that you have?
“The Road” is the lane, your journey, to find the sweet spots. What is your lane? What is your sweet spot? For some, this might mean actually stepping down from a role of leadership. One attendee mentioned the intense change management at
their institution, and how it taught them that not everyone is meant to manage. That’s fine--understand what works for you, and shed the societal expectations of what you “should” do next.
The Climb is what helps you evolve. The Give is looking at how you serve others--as a leader, are you taking care of your employees the same way you serve your students? Even on the peer to peer level, there is a level of service and generosity that
The Reward is life being fully lived. Different attendees gave different stories relating to the themes--one mentioned how they switched from the garment industry to the higher education field. Huge changes like that can invite inner turmoil
and uncertainty until you decide your true purpose.
The book ends with Home. How do you allow life to be complicated when it’s so simple? Find the simplicity in life. Know that the tasks in your everyday life are temporary, and that true happiness comes from peace within.
I will end with this, life is meant to be enjoyed and lived with every part of your being. Be mindful of others, take time out for yourself, Use your voice to liberate you, find that one thing that makes you smile and hold on to it. Be life givers
not life killers. Your purpose is your fabric ready to be designed but it takes you spending time with yourself that will make your purpose clear.
Watch the discussion