This past Friday, @TheOiler10, a student run agency class approach I created comprised of 10 top notch business students who work on real life projects with external clients, started their weekly business meeting & work session at 5:00 am.
I had sent a message out earlier in the week to the group that I would be starting at 5:00 am on Friday and I felt that we had a lot of work to do, and needed some time together to really organize & iron out a few things moving forward. These students are some of the best, and I feel it is my job to continually find ways to push, lead, support, and not allow them to become comfortable, while trying to simulate the real world as much as possible.
As the week progressed, the students decided they were going to be there at 5:00 am ready to go, and bought into some culture building bantering back & forth, ultimately providing some excitement for getting out of their comfort zones. They communicate regularly through the groupme app, and it was great to see them reminding each other that even though it’s 5:00 am, our required business casual clothing, agenda setting, and preparation for reports on individual group clients, etc… was still to be upheld. They had taken ownership of the upcoming experience, and I was beyond excited.
While I’m sure they weren’t all excited to set their alarms for 4:30 a.m., when I got up that morning, I could barely contain myself getting ready to see them in action, and be a part of their continual quest at being elite. I knew I had to be ready, so I made it to my office around 4:15 a.m., had to call security to let me in to the exterior door, and told them I had a meeting with my class at 5:00. You should have seen the officer’s face. “College students are really getting up to come work on school stuff at 5:00 am?” I responded with a huge smile and said, “Yep, isn’t it freaking awesome?”
At 4:40 they started rolling in, and they were ready to move the needle.
Music was going, white boards were ready to roll, and they knew it was time to push, and that’s exactly what they did.
I had a few people (adults, coworkers, etc.) question me throughout the rest of the day on why I would make my students come in at 5:00 am on a Friday, to which I responded, I didn’t “make” any of them. But in my head I was thinking, “they needed it, so why wouldn’t we come in and get after it?” My job is to push students out of their comfort zones, help them build and understand their value, and ultimately strive to earn the right to live their dreams, as Coyte Cooper puts it. This was an opportunity to do all of that, and so much more.
They were chosen and have built @TheOiler10 because they’re good. But our job in education is to push them to become even better. We have continually talked as a group about how we help every single person in the group move past being good, to ultimately becoming elite in our mindset and actions. They are expected to perform at a level well past a “typical” college student, and they know this is an opportunity to work and prove they’re more than “good”.
As I continue to reflect on that morning work session, which we followed up with a team breakfast run to Bob Evans at 9:00 a.m., I felt like they had something to prove to themselves. Watching them interact at breakfast, and comment on how cool it was to be walking out of Old Main knowing how much they accomplished as all the other college students were droopy eyed heading to their first class, I was beyond proud of their progress in just the few short months they’ve been together. They’ve created a culture like I haven’t witnessed within a class structure before, and have completely taken ownership of the experience.
As the weekend progressed, I still couldn’t shake the comments I was getting from other adults, and still now as I write this, I keep asking myself, “are these people serious, don’t they get it?” ...... “Why 5:00 am?” ..... "Why not?"
Maybe I’m being selfish to think that all people want to be challenged to the extreme, and when guided appropriately, will achieve things far beyond what they ever thought they could. Maybe I’m too naïve to think that a college student can be excited about putting in work at 5:00 am in the morning, even though society tells us that that’s just weird, or too much to ask of them. Maybe I just got lucky and found 10 kids who are different.
I guess I’m just not OK with any of those “maybes.”
I truly believe life is made up of a lot of “5 a.m. moments”, and I don’t necessarily just mean from a time or work perspective. Each day we have things we need to do to stretch out of our comfort zones. There are times we have things that need to get done, and done well, with max effort. There are times when we have to get creative, push ourselves, our organizations, our families, and our surroundings out of their comfort zones to help make the path to becoming elite more clear. Sometimes that’s at 4, 5, 6 am. Sometimes it’s at 3, 7, or 11 pm.
It’s not about the time; it’s about when the “uncomfortable opportunity” appears, and whether I did enough as an educator to help my students build a desire to seize it.
I don’t ever want any of them graduating without the understanding of the importance of “5 a.m. moments”, or questioning the impact they can have on building and adding their value every single moment, of every single day.
School isn’t easy. Jobs aren’t easy. Life isn’t easy. It’s not supposed to be. But, if we help students, or everyone for that matter, realize the importance of embracing and seizing the “5 a.m. moments” with energy and positivity rather than questioning “why” because they seem out of the ordinary, the more lasting impacts we can help them create.
So to all those saying, “Seriously, 5:00 am?”
All I can say is, “You better believe it.”
Thank you @TheOiler 10 for continuing to push me to seize those "5 a.m. moments".