Searching for Nuggets

Two female students working in a cafe
Two female students working in a cafe

by Robert Busha, Ph.D., Spring Arbor University Online Professor, MBA Program

Picture a prospector at the edge of a stream intently scanning a pan of gravel for the glimmer of gold. Now, replace the old prospector’s face with your own. Then change the scene from the mountains of a western state in the U.S.A. to the place where you do your academic work, your study space. Got it? Hold that image!

Academic Flashback

Scan your memory bank for another picture or two. This time make it a course, a class, an assignment or a professor you didn’t like. Can you recall the emotions you felt back then? Do you remember resisting to the point of procrastination and thinly veiled excuses?

That was resistance to learning, and it was probably effective. Would that be right? The ability to learn is directly proportional to attitude. It’s a choice. Example: When you decide not to like a topic or a person, a barrier is created; it’s a block in the way of that subject (or person) to get most effectively through to your Learning Self. Does that makes sense?

Getting All You Can

Back now to prospecting. Practically, the ol’ miner is looking for even small grains, not just nuggets. In panning, as in life, it’s the accumulation of small bits of something precious that can amount to substantial value. It’s the same way in the classroom. A little learning here, a little learning there, and pretty soon a recognizable mass of value has been gathered. I call it, “Learning to think and communicate at a higher level.”

Life Cash Money

How can you get more? More learning. More insight. More creative stimulation. More good things to use in life. In what ways might you acquire grains, and even nuggets, during your studies so that what your yield will be as valuable as possible? It’s about Self-Leadership, the kind of attitude it takes repeatedly to go into the gold fields in search of a nugget or a few flakes at a time.

In your Self-Leadership Kit you might consider having four essential pieces of “Go” encouragement-reminders, all the while keeping in mind the image of the gold miner diligently working streamside.

Go Positive

It’s not likely that you’d go prospecting for gold or education with a dark and gloomy state of mind. However, in America’s 21st Century culture being a victim gets attention and more sympathy than it should. Think about it. Is getting an education really suffering?

Maybe, before you start your next academic journey, you should ditch any tendency (no matter how remote or infrequent) to play that “I’m a Victim” theme song. And, while you’re at it, find other overcomers and strivers to hang out with whenever you can.

Go Barrier-Free

There are plenty of obstructions and potholes in the normal course of any journey. Be determined to find ways around, over, under or through them when any get in your way. That means allowing no self-imposed barriers as well. Note: Self-discovery is the most effective and longest lasting way to learn.

  • “This course is stupid.” Look for the good stuff that will make you more effective in your quest to think and communicate at a higher level.
  • “I don’t like that professor.” You’re not being required to marry your instructors, so try to find the pluses in them and your relationship for the few weeks you’ll be interacting.
  • “Why do we have to do this assignment?” Someone with more experience and wisdom believes it’s an essential part of your development. Discover why. Do it!

Go Pumped

This is an opportunity to Self-Talk your way to success. Whatever reminders you need to prepare to keep yourself laser-centered on your strategic objectives and interim goals, do it early. You might also try, early on, to identify the ways negative thoughts and phrases might creep into your vocabulary and your mind, and guard against them.

Go Maxed

Count your blessings, day by day (or moment by moment if you need to). The reality is evident in your being able to get an education, but surrounding yourself with the abundance of ways God has provided for you to learn and serve will never cease to be of value.

Go Hopeful

If, by chance, you look to the future and wonder what your past and present are all about, just walk it out step by step, assignment by assignment, course by course, because your future (and your degree) will be there, for sure, when you arrive. Basically, your job is just to discern what God has for you, and then obey. It’s really that simple. Discern and obey. He’ll put the bag of nuggets you’ve mined to good use, in particular for mentoring others.

Deliberate Outlook

So, look for, no expect, value in all you do. There is nothing, absolutely nothing, in your educational journey that will ever be less than important to you and to your future. Make positive expectations a part of your daily awakening and rising: “Thank you, Lord, for another day of learning opportunities.” Amen.