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My Successes Have Not Been Achieved Alone

What is important? What/whom do you value? How is your life connected to those things? What are you grateful for?

I value my family, friends, leaders, colleagues, mentors, peers, well, I try to just be a good person and appreciate people in general. There are some real jerks in the world I wouldn’t give my time to though, but I always give people a chance first.

Where do I want to go? You can answer this question in many different ways, including spiritually, mentally, or a physical destination. It might describe your career arc.

I need balance and piece of mind. My life is blessed, but there have been some serious battles over my spirit for a long time. Gratefully, I’m solid in knowing I have deep faith in God and that I am never alone. I believe people need spiritual expression. I do not force myself on others, but I act as a lighthouse or a bacon, calling people home. I try to receive people as they come to me, and I reflect positive energy and use creativity to communicate ways for them to express their ideas and feelings.

What does "the best" look like for me? Describe your best possible result; this is the time to dream and not be realistic.

I just want to achieve balance so I can afford a comfortable life and support my family, while being creative in different ways every day. I love the fact that each project is f=different and there are always new challenges. I enjoy the break from the every day stresses and anxieties, the past trauma and all that nonsense. I want to thrive by putting my mind to solving problems with creative thinking.

How do I want to act? How do you want people to describe you? What makes me feel powerful? When do I feel most useful? Think of a few words you would want to come to mind when people think about you.

I want people to know they can depend on me as a hardworking, dedicated and honest person. I want them to know I can think about hard problems and drum up conversation to start the process for identifying solutions. I want people to know I am a good person, loving and decent. I want them to know I am about family, and lasting relationships. My work is a part of who I am, and I invest myself. Most importantly, after everything in my life, without having to announce it at every meal because I prefer not to always talk about it, I want people to look at me and listen to me, and be able to tell that I speak from a place of experience, and I will not be pushed around. I am compassionate and I know how to put myself in other peoples shoes to find empathy in all my decisions first.

What kind of legacy do I want to leave behind? Imagine you're fifty years in the future. What does the impact you've left look like?

I just want people to know that I care about them. I think some people don’t have an open mind or heart to receive many gifts that are offered and yet go unseen in this world. I want to help people find their sight. I want to help them unravel their very inner creativity and learn to wield their craft. I want to see magic unlock in the minds of our future thinkers. I also just want to have fun and get paid too if that’s okay? I need this in my soul. I want to feel like the moment it all comes together; I will understand why the journey had to be so messy. It will be worth it, because it’s all so worth it now. I just want my kids to grow up and appreciate the things that make us unique. Creative expression is part of the journey. I hope to inspire others.

Identify Past Successes.

Spend some time identifying four or five examples where you have had personal success in recent years. These successes could be at work, in your community, at home, etc. Write them down. Try to identify whether there is a common theme (or themes) to these examples.

It's not hard to go straight to one of the biggest changes in my life, sobriety. I don’t need to go into a lot of detail to be able to make it clear that I was on the verge of making a choice to live or to die. Although my problems stemmed from a series of unfortunate events which landed me depending on medicine to live. Well, that was not living at all. In fact, that was only the beginning to a severe story of years full of grief, pain, and loss. I do not need to elaborate to express this very important detail, not many people come back from where I’ve been. It took a great amount of commitment and dedication no matter the pain, but I didn’t do it alone.

A second success was having a child and raising her on my own all while I was rebuilding my life and going back to school. I suffered a great deal of trauma for a long time and it took me almost 2 years to figure out how to formulate sentences to have a normal conversation with people again. I remember I was in Red Rocks Community College, and my Design instructor/ now friend, Kaylie Hall, was one of the first people to help me find myself through my work. I was hurting deeply, and my wounds were woven deeply with tears from years of being abused and belittled. I forgot who I was. I got used to the foul treatment until one day I had enough strength to change it all, forever.

I used school, and being creative to replace the parts of me that were so broken and lost for a long time. Here, almost 8 ½ years later, stronger than ever, and now finishing my 5th year teaching.

To stem off of that success, when I started teaching, I was so fortunate to land a group of students who not only became students, but many of them are now my friends. I shared a solid 2 years, they took every class I taught, and some of them took them twice. I still collaborate with a few of these guys and gals 5 years later. I learned so much from this group of students. They inspired me and helped me unlock a passion for teaching. Together, we built a program, a community in the department where we could all get together, learn together and work together on real gigs. It was in this moment I found myself becoming a coordinator, an event planner, a producer, and an art director. Before this I had a ton of experience freelancing, but it has been a series of strategic moves, setting and making goals, pursuing higher education beyond completing 2 degrees, that brought me to be stronger and better today. Not only have my skills advanced in technical areas, but my brain is fueled with energy, vision, and excitement like I’ve never felt before. The truth is, I need to be creative to help with my mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual state. I have no choice.

The program we built was like a club at first. We were moving and growing so fast though we branded ourselves as the “Industry Experience” program. This was the start to what is now officially launching in the Spring at Red Rocks, after nearly 4 ½ years running as a workshop, then an internship, followed by a special topic course for multiple years, and finally landing itself as an official part of the degree program. We launched an “experiential” class, crossing different disciplines in multimedia, graphic design, and photography. The program has created a platform for students to get ahead and launch into the field before they graduate, providing opportunity to train and be mentored along the way, while receiving critical feedback and being pressed under real-world conditions. The students, starting in the very beginning and still moving forward, have done so well, the second year I was able to sponsor many of them on a variety of different adventures out of the country, the globe, and all across town to work on amazing client projects. Some of these gigs were even paid. We knew we were on to a great idea, but most importantly, we just all loved being creative together so much and never knowing what was next, we just made it happen.

The Industry Experience program helps support student success in the department, and far beyond the classroom. As a student and a teacher, I get to be fully immersed into my very own experiment. I’m getting first-hand experience while I’m also learning. I’m also identifying things in both perspectives which will help me improve my skills and methods for teaching, as well as being a better student.

One of my first students is about to graduate from the film program at CU Denver. He just won Best Cinematographer on a film he worked on. He also was invited to work on senior projects fresh out of my program after he transferred over to CU. Because of his experience working on dozens of real productions, he came in leading projects and giving confident art direction. This is proof experience works. I am proof. All I did was create a space for the students to apply what they learn, and have room for critical thinking and reflection, and the rest is like watching little buds bloom! After completing my first-year teaching, I received an Excellence in Teaching award from the National Society of Leadership and Success. My students nominated me. That was an amazing feeling, but hearing my student’s news today, was even better!

Identify core values.

Develop a list of attributes that you believe identify who you are and what your priorities are. The list can be as long as you need it to be.

Family, compassion, dedication, stability, creativity, fun, adventure, challenge, education, love, & faith

Once your list is complete, see if you can narrow your values down to around five or six of the most important values.

Narrowed down: Family, Education, Love, Faith, Dedication

Finally, see if you can choose the one value that is most important to you.

Down to one: Faith

Faith is at the core of my very being. Without faith, I would not be here today. I rely on constant communication and spiritual connection to maintain my sanity, to keep calm, and to get through everything I do.

Identify contributions

Make a list of the ways you could make a difference. In an ideal situation, how could you contribute best to the world in general, your family, your clients or future employers, your friends, your community?

I can contribute by sharing an open mind for discussion. For having the willingness to collaborate and brainstorm my vision and to help devise a plan for action. I can be trusted and known as a critical thinker who does not give up. My willingness to be open to receiving other perspectives, helps me grow both personally and professionally. I am certainly a valuable member to any team I commit to, and I do not give up.

Identify goals.

Spend some time thinking about your priorities in life and the goals you have for yourself. Make a list of your personal goals, perhaps in the short-term (up to three years) and the long-term (beyond three years).

In the next year I look forward to completing my BFA degree and possibly starting my Master’s program. 2-3 years from now I hope to be buying a bigger house to fit my family. I look forward to taking on new teaching opportunities and community projects. 5-10 years from now, I hope to be planted inside a University of College as a full-timer. I want to devote my energy into a place that wants to support change and introduce new creative and ambitious endeavors.

Write a mission statement.

Based on the first four steps, and a better understanding of yourself, write your personal mission statement.

Combing Education, Creativity, & Collaboration into a career that supports a positive and happy life for myself and those around me.

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