Carving Your Statue

Before anything else, let me paint a mental picture for you...

Imagine that you are standing at the base of a large smooth rock face. It might be about ten feet high. In the sunlight and the shadows, the stone resembles a darker gray color. At your feet, you find a number of hand tools that are designed for chipping into the stone wall. You lean down slowly and pick up both a chisel and a mallet device, each eight inches in length. You cannot help but wonder: what could I carve out of this rock face? And... that's when it hits you! After millions of years of natural forces creating this large chunk of stone, you realize that only inches away from you, is a life-size statue replica of yourself!
Can you see it? Maybe not... But you start to chip away at the rock. After about two hours worth of slamming that mallet on the chisel and a few tired forearms/achy hands, you start to see the resemblance of a face in the stone. Curiously, you pick up the pace and let your imagination continue to guide your work over the next several days. Weeks go by and it becomes slowly apparent that this statue appears to be a representation of YOU! You are intrigued. This realization only drives you to work harder... faster... the work becomes more meticulous... you start to identify all of the fine details that bring your statue to life. There is always a new way to tinker with the design and another layer to peel off. Eventually though, you come to a complete rendition that exemplifies everything that you were meant to do in life! Can you see it now? What once was a boring stone, has now turned into a detailed replica of you in human form.
M.K. Asante Jr. - The Inspiration

You are probably thinking: why am I imagining myself carving a statue of... myself? Am I THAT narcissistic? Perhaps, but that is another topic altogether. Essentially, as a graduate assistant at Texas A&M University-Commerce in the Leadership Engagement & Development department, I had the special privilege of taking a number of students to the SMU campus recently and learning from the brilliant mind of M.K. Asante Jr. at the Tate Lecture Series. The trip was part of our department's 'Extraordinary L.E.A.D.ership Series.' In his inspirational program, Dr. Asante talked about helping others to 'Find Their Voice!' He used the aforementioned metaphor in a similar way to illustrate his point: before we can adequately find our voice/passions/purpose in life, we have to undergo years of exploration to find the truth about ourselves. What an extraordinary visual! No wonder CNN called him a 'Master Storyteller...'

Think about it: in every achievement, we remove a layer of stone that allows us to see more of who we are. When we fail, there might be even more stone that we chisel away in the pursuit of our "voice." Each day, we unconsciously chisel away at our statue, further revealing our voice. Ultimately, when we look at that blank rock face for the first time, our self-awareness is limited and we do not necessarily see that statue representation of ourselves. It is only through time, effort, and discovery that we truly find out who we really are deep-down and it begins to come to life.

A Graduate School Perspective

Originally, as I began to plan this event for E.L.S., my intention was to build a program that would inspire and inform our student population. Never did it cross my mind that I would be by their side, doing just as much self-exploration into finding my own voice and my own purpose in life. In that process, I asked myself some critical questions:

Have I carved out my statue yet?

If not, what else do I need to reveal about my voice?

Am I happy with my statue?

It may not seem like it, but they are important questions for anyone who is in my position. As a graduate student, I am taking on two jobs, advising organizations, volunteering in multiple capacities, completing graduate coursework, investigating summer internships, managing personal relationships and building a brand for myself. The objective upon graduation is always lingering just beyond the horizon... securing employment somewhere where I can bring my Purpose to life. Purpose, as we know, much like values, drives behavior. M.K. Asante Jr.'s message was more relevant than ever because it will further assist me in identifying my purpose and ensuring that my "voice" makes a difference in this world. Plus, sometimes we just need to slow down and take some time to focus on ourselves - maybe carve our statue out just a little bit more!

I will leave you with a quote from M.K. Asante Jr.:

"If you have an observation, you have an obligation."

Kyle Hickman

Student Affairs - the First Years

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