What Heats You? Finding the Thermodynamic Within

At the end of 2017, I tasked myself with thinking intentionally about why I do what I do. Why do I study student experiences in college? Why am I interested in how colleges and universities structure their support services and communicate their availability to students? Quite honestly, why do I care?

WHY? Such a big word. I remember peppering my parents with questions, ‘why’?

Simon Sinek asks what’s your why? It’s an existential question that essentially asks about purpose. I have come to think of the word ‘why’ as a question: What Heats You?

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It’s the thermodynamic property of curiosity, creativity, and commitment coming together that heats us. It is the vocation of which Frederick Buechner defines as “the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.”

Working in colleges and universities for 20 years, I’ve observed that staff and faculty typically focus their attention externally. They prepare for the next big event or the next lecture. Rarely, do we take time to ask what is our why? What heats us to do our work?

I’ve wrestled with this question and I’m excited to share my ‘why’ as part of Montana State University Provost’s Distinguished Lecturer Series, Tuesday February 20 at 7 pm (MST) at the Museum of the Rockies. For those who want to attend at a distance, I will also Facebook Live the event from my Facebook profile page, Tricia Seifert.

I invite you to listen in, ask a question, or leave a comment through Facebook (Tricia Seifert), Twitter (@TriciaSeifert or @CdnStdntSuccess), or LinkedIn (Tricia Seifert).

I look forward to exploring our ‘why’ together. In asking this critical question, I believe we will find untapped opportunities to further support student success.

Tricia Seifert is principal investigator of the Supporting Student Success research study and associate professor of Adult & Higher Education at Montana State University.

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