How do you know you’re ready to take that exam? To give that presentation? To run the marathon you’ve been training for? What I’m really asking is, how do you know you’re prepared?
When it is something task oriented, there is a definitive answer. You’re either prepared or you’re not prepared to climb mount Everest. You’ve studied enough for the exam to pass, or you haven’t. And although preparedness might look and feel different for each person, there is still a definitive answer, outcome and plan for how to get prepared. But what about preparing for the future? There is so much that is unknown about the future, and still, our behavior would suggest that we want to be prepared (whatever that may look like to each individual person). We save money for emergencies, we go to colleges to get degrees, we try to gain work experience from a young age without ever really knowing what the future might throw at us. The pandemic has especially highlighted just how fast things can change under our feet.
Former US Secretary of Education, Richard Riley, summed up the dilemma well. He said “We are currently preparing students for jobs that don’t yet exist, using technologies that haven’t yet been invented, in order to solve problems we don’t even know are problems yet.” When framed like this, it is safe to assume that facilitating students through the process of getting prepared for the unknown is an important skill to nurture. But (1) how can you measure an objective feeling like preparedness? And (2) how do you even teach it?
Over the summer in our Leadership Academy, we worked with 16 schools and their Associated Student Body leadership group. Each school attended four 3-hour programs facilitated by two of our leadership coaches. Prior to the start of their sessions with us, we had each student and advisor rank how prepared they felt they were for the upcoming school year.
On average, students rated their preparedness for the upcoming school year a 4.4 out of 7 before attending Leadership Academy. After completing their sessions, the average rating of preparedness was a 5.7 meaning that on average, students felt 18.5% more prepared after just 12 hours of working with our coaches (see figure 1). Even more staggering is the results we collected on the advisors. Using the same process, we found that advisors felt 40% more prepared for the school year after Leadership Academy (see figure 1). Our data shows that when participants are bought into our process of team development and action planning, it doesn’t take long to increase feelings of preparedness so that students and advisors can start their school year off strong.
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