On Service

Doggie dash

For the past three weeks, I have been tutoring two students–non-accounting business majors taking a required graduate accounting course.  Tomorrow they have an exam, and I’m so excited about how hard they have worked to study for it.  I feel preemptively proud of them, if that’s allowed.

The first day I met one of the students in one of those always-slightly-smelly library basement study rooms, I didn’t really know what to expect.  I hadn’t tutored anyone since I was an undergraduate (and back then I helped kids write papers–not use present value tables!).   We went through some problems, I asked and answered some questions, and I noticed that sometimes the most effective thing I could do was simply sit and listen as the student worked a problem out on his own.

At the end of that very first session I had such a strange but clear feeling that what I had done in that little basement room had served to enrich my education as much as all my graduate accounting courses combined.  Which is not to downplay the enormous amount that I am learning in all my classes!  What I mean is that the act of helping another student succeed trumped my personal successes.  More than that–it gave meaning to all those classes and all those As and all that work.

After that first day, I think I probably looked forward to the tutoring sessions more than the students did!  And I certainly didn’t always have the answers, but hopefully I was a bit helpful, a bit motivating, maybe a little clarifying, and even a bit of a cheerleader when the moment was right.

Anyways…send them good thoughts on their exam day tomorrow!

(The photo above is from another bit of service–I and other members of Beta Alpha Psi directed runners and walkers along the racecourse at the Doggie Dash and Dawdle this month.  That dawdler pictured above took the cake.)

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Tuesday Video: On Creativity

I had lunch today with one of my poet friends, which reminded me that in addition to being an accounting student extraordinaire*, I used to be am also a poet! My friend was in town for a governmental accounting workshop–in addition to writing poetry, she also does the books for a scientific operation up in Santa Fe. We talked and laughed about how hard it is to get into the creative mindset on the heels of hours and hours of accounting-type work.

On that note, this Tuesday video segment will be dedicated to one of my favorite Ted Talks on creativity: Elizabeth Gilbert on Your Elusive Creative Genius.

Maybe once I’m done with this Three Exam Week, I’ll see if I can’t return to a little bit of creative work.

*Emphasis added

On Superheroes

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If it seems like I have been a little quiet this week, it’s because I was working on a problem I couldn’t solve. I had to prepare a fictitious company’s corporate tax return and all necessary schedules and forms, given a trial balance and a few notes. And when I say I couldn’t solve this one, I mean that I couldn’t solve it alone.

Luckily, I was working with a team. And it was a team of superheroes. Every time somebody hit a dead end, nobody else gave up. I was absolutely thrown out of my comfort zone. And due to that very fact, I learned more during this one week doing this one assignment than I know how to quantify.

After countless hours, emails, and revisions, we submitted our return this morning. And this afternoon the professor wrote back with our grade:

“Perfect.”

I’m not used to having a question I can’t answer myself. I entered that disconcerting place, I came out the other side, and I emerged with the confidence born of overcoming.

It turns out that not-knowing can sometimes be the best door.

Map It!

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Sometimes it helps to make a map. Not just of where you’re going–but also of where you’ve been. Mapping out your progress toward a large goal can put current struggles or deliberations into perspective, and give you a visual report on how much you’ve invested, committed, and succeeded up to this point.

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It can also help you articulate what you’ve done and learned, so that you can share your findings with others when the time is right.

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As with all projects, it never hurts to add a little Pep Talk Smiley (TM).