What is the Intentional Academy? Overview

Last week I set out to answer two questions: “What is the Intentional Academy?” and “Who is it for?”. The tricky part about answering these is that it takes deep reflection – I’ve had an idea in my head for a while. It’s been so hard to put words to it.

Here’s the recap on my progress: I managed to answer the “WHO” question by writing a manifesto. I started to answer the “WHAT” question by painting a picture of the destination. This week, I’ll be hashing out what the vehicle needs to look like to get you there. That vehicle is The Intentional Academy.

Any vehicle is made up of key components – none of them will get you there on their own. But when used together? Well, you know. What are the key components?

  • A Mission – not The Intentional Academy’s mission, YOUR mission to reach your destination
  • A Community – of those who have gone before and those who are coming behind
  • A Collection of Resources – that will enable to you complete your mission

This week I’ll tell you all about the Community and the Resources we’re putting together for you.

I will say this: we’re in the very beginning stages of building the Intentional Academy. Signing up now requires a bit of faith on your part. We want to thank you for your trust: if you join now, you’re automatically an Intentional Academy Founding Member. You’ll have special access, free for life. Sign up now with the form on this page.

Where are we going? (Part 3: Career)

This week, my goal is to answer two important questions: “What is the Intentional Academy?” and “Who is it for?”

When it comes to your career, this is where The Intentional Academy is headed:

Career: The Intentional Academy is going to take you to a place where you truly love your work. You’re going to find the intersection of your passion and ability. You’ll stand out from the crowd as a leader, a change-maker – laughing when someone suggests you “apply online,” because you’ll bypass the system altogether. Most importantly, you’re going to learn to add so much value that you’ll become indispensable.

Would you like to be there? Then join the Intentional Academy. It’s free. Sign up today at using the form on this page.

Who Is the Intentional Academy For?

Yesterday I shared that we’re in a special time at the Intentional Academy. We’re on a quest to answer two questions: “What is the Intentional Academy?” and “Who is it for?”

There’s an educational principle called backward design. As common sense as it sounds, the principle isn’t applied very often. The basic idea is that we start with the intended outcome, and then work backwards to design experiences that cause a learner to grow and achieve it.

That principle applies here: before I can answer WHAT the Intentional Academy is, I need to determine the outcomes it is trying to create. I’ll also need to define WHO I’m guiding towards these outcomes. Then I’ll build the Intentional Academy to serve those people, and get them where they’re headed.

Today let’s answer the WHO question:

Go read The Intentional Learner’s Manifesto (yesterday’s post). After reading it, were you:

  • Tempted to argue? Did you rail against the ideas, talking about how the world “should” be? Did words like “fairness” come into your mind? Did you want to find other people who agree with you and start throwing rocks? Then the Intentional Academy isn’t for you. Not yet anyway.
  • Slightly angry, but mostly hopeful? Did you have trouble sitting down, feel an uncontrollable urge to DO SOMETHING. Did you want to be the person that the words describe? Did you start to believe that you COULD be that person? Did you want to connect to other people on the same journey so you could help each other grow? Then the sign up form is on this page and we can’t wait to meet you!

Brainstorming an Intentional Learner’s Manifesto

I am an Intentional Learner.

I see a gap between what I learn in school and what I need to succeed. I don’t wait for the system to fix itself, I leverage its strengths and overcome its weaknesses.

I believe that my life is my fault. I may have started from a different point than everyone else. My path may be easier or harder than everyone else’s. But I will not let my past dictate my future. I have the power to act and succeed, or to do nothing and fail.

I own my time and my money. I realize that both are finite and I decide how I spend them. I do not allow either to limit my future.

I learn to add incredible value, not to make grades. I add value by meeting people’s needs. My grades are a reflection of my performance, not the reason for it.

I affirm that my ability to breathe does not entitle me to an income. My ability to create something that changes a person’s life leads to payment proportional to the impact. I am not paid by the hour, I am paid by the result.

I may not know my dream yet, but I know where my current path leads. I am not burying my head in the sand, hoping that if I follow the herd good things will happen. I embrace the future I see for myself, but I hold it loosely. I am in the business of opening doors.

I know that I will perform as I practice, so I practice well. I am not waiting for certification. My results are my certification.

This is my time. This is my money. This is my career. I am an Intentional Learner.

Want to be a part of a community of people like this? Join the Intentional Academy using the form on the this page. It’s free!

The easy way make people do what you want

Systems engineering is interested in the way that seemingly simple components interact to create complex behaviors. A car driving down the street is fairly simple. Put a bunch of them near each other and complex behaviors arise.

I’m about to pick at the system called college. Don’t mistake these observations for an evil plot. I’m talking about the unintended consequences of attempting to systematize learning. These outcomes are the “traffic jams” of education.

If I wanted to create graduates who merely follow instructions, what would I do?

Step 1. Lock down information by convincing the crowd which information is important and which isn’t. In other words, “teaching to the test.”

Step 2. Make people who fail to comply very uncomfortable. We call this “classroom behavior management.”

Step 3: Use fear as a motivator. In other words, “grading” and “transcripts.”

Step 4: Create an enemy your followers can blame for their shortcomings. Maybe “the economy” or “the job market.”

We can’t teach it all. We need some semblance of order. We need to measure progress. We need encouragement. As an educator, my job is to try and update the system to avoid the unintended consequences of addressing reality.

But YOU don’t want to become a sheep. So keep your eyes open. And deal with this:

Step 1: If you’re asking “is this on the test?” then you’re on your way to the pasture.

Step 2: Be a rebel: not a rabble-rouser who throws rocks of negativity, but a leader who strives for positive change.

Step 3: Realize that you’re more than your transcript.

Step 4: If you’re already blaming your circumstances for limiting your future, learn to say this word: “baaahh”

Want more? Come on over to the Intentional Academy and you’ll find encouragement and practical tools to grow as a leader and independent thinker. It’s free, sign up using the form on this page.

Don’t fear fear

Fear is used, often unintentionally, to motivate and control people far too often.

  1. Do you study because you love to learn and can’t wait to add something new to your world, or do you study because you’re afraid of failing an exam?
  2. Do you go to work to meet someone’s need and thrive off of the energy that gives you, or do you work because you’re afraid of not having money?

Sure. We need good grades and we need money. But both are measurement tools, not goals in and of themselves. We use rulers to measure how long something is. We use grades to measure how much someone has learned. We use money to measure how much someone has contributed.

That last one may be controversial. To paraphrase Rabbi Daniel Lapan: when you meet someone’s need through a product or service, they give you certificates of appreciation printed on green paper with presidents’ faces on them. If you don’t like your current income, figure out how to serve more people.

I’ve been talking about fear this week. Sadly, many people in your life have scared you into doing what they wanted by threatening your grades or your money. The result is that you feel the need to chase these things directly instead of pursuing what they measure: learning and contribution.

Learn. Contribute. The grades and money will take care of themselves.

Want more? Join the Intentional Academy, a free online community that helps people get control of their time, money, and careers so they can make their best contribution. It’s free. Sign up today using the form at the top of this page!

I’m not afraid of losing my job

You may not know this, but I’m actually a full-time professor of mechanical engineering at one of the major universities in the Philadelphia, PA area. However, I don’t hold the typical professor position. I don’t have tenure. I never will. I have an annual contract, and every year I need to convince the school to rehire me.

Yesterday I had lunch with a colleague. I told him some of my current projects. His expression went from interested, to shocked, to concerned as I told him about the ways I am revolutionizing teaching and learning – side note, check out #ENGR1102 or join the “ENGR1102” Facebook group. He remarked that I was brave to challenge the status quo and asked where I get the courage to act this way without the protection of tenure.

It was at this point that I realized something about myself: I’m not afraid of losing my job.

No, I don’t want to lose my job. I LOVE my job. But I can find another one. If I live the statistic for my generation, eventually I WILL be finding another one.

What I am afraid of is losing myself – especially in some lame attempt at staying safe. So I speak my mind. I do what I think is right. Am I always right? Nope. But I admit it and move on. Above all, I try things.

If I no longer add value to my employer, then I shouldn’t work there.

It would be a drain on me, and a drain on them. Worse, it would keep the person who is custom-built for my position from moving in, and keep me from moving into the place that I fit best.

Everyone loses when the wrong person has the job.

If you’d like help finding the place that you’re custom-built for, then you should join the Intentional Academy. It’s free. Sign up today using the form at the top of this page!

Fear is a powerful (de)motivator

Fear is a powerful motivator. Maybe it’s better to say that fear is a powerful DEmotivator. How many great ideas have we left undone because we were too scared to start?

We’re wired this way. Nature serves us example after example of the safety that comes from blending in. But when you have an idea, create something, and actually ship it? You stand out. That’s a dangerous place indeed.

Except that it isn’t.

Not in this context. Now, the best thing you can do is stand out (for the right reasons). We all have ideas. We all act as if there is some central agency who will double-check us and give us permission to launch. Except there isn’t. You’re free to ship, or not ship.

The next time you have an idea and you’re afraid to share it, or to start making something, think of this: the fear is your brain recognizing that this idea could matter. It could get attention. It could cause you to stand out.

It could matter.

If you’d like to be a part of a community of people who are looking to stand out, looking to do something that matters, then you should join the Intentional Academy. It’s free. Fill out the form at the top of this page to get started.

Absolute Belief is the Cure for Fear

Failure is overrated. We’ve created a featureless monster that lives in our brains, just out of sight, that has us convinced that the worst thing in the world is failure. We can’t quite put our finger on why, but we’re certain that there are few things worse than failing.

Try this experiment: think of your most important project. Imagine that it implodes, that your idea fails completely. What happens next?

Innovation isn’t driven by the lucky few who got it right the first time. It’s driven by the people who continue trying after everyone else quits. How do they do that?

Absolute Belief.

Not in a product or an idea or a solution. Absolute belief in a cause. I have no idea if the Intentional 101 class will succeed. I have no idea if the Intentional Academy will succeed. But I am absolutely certain that I have a message of hope for today’s college students, and that I will find a way to get it to them. The belief gives me all I need to keep trying.

Absolute belief is what empowers people to get knocked down 7 times but get up 8.

The Intentional Academy is a free online community for students and recent grads who are trying to get a handle on life and find the cause they can absolutely believe in. Join today using the form at the top of this page.

New ways to make money as a student

One of the scariest things we can do is step out on our own. It’s much more comfortable to follow the pack, to take advantage of the same opportunities that we’ve been taking advantage of for years.

Let me ask a question to drive home the point: imagine you’re a broke college student in need of some part-time work. What do you do?

Here’s a typical list: retail jobs (clerk, bagger, stocker), labor (construction, auto repair, landscaping), or on-campus jobs (dining hall, library, tutoring center, research assistant).

What’s interesting about this list is that it hasn’t changed.

I worked at one of each of these jobs as a student 10 years ago. My parents had these jobs in the 70’s, my grandparents in the 50’s.

Yet the jobs themselves have changed. We’ve been perfecting these processes for a century. We’ve figured out how to squeeze every last drop of value out of them. What this means for you is that they pay as little as possible.

So why do we flock to these jobs? They’re easy to get.

If you hadn’t noticed, the internet has changed everything.

Here are some new part-time jobs you could have: copywriter, editor, web designer, graphic designer, social media marketer, app developer.

Are there full-timers with experience and degrees dominating these markets? Sure. Can you compete? Not directly.

But there are a whole lot of motivated part-timers. And thank goodness: small fledgling companies can’t afford the big dogs. You could make great money doing these things if you just spent a little time hunting for opportunities with your social network and favorite search engine.

If you’d like to learn how to look for the opportunities everyone else is missing, join the Intentional Academy. It’s free. Sign up today using the form at the top of this page.