“A” is for Accomplishment

Nicole JohnsonDuring these difficult economic times, I have come to realize that I am my greatest asset. Thus, I resigned from my position as a literacy coach with the Los Angeles Unified School District in June to start The ABC Coach, a business modeled on my own experience and designed to encourage students to reach their fullest potential.

The ABC Coach (which stands for Appreciating Strengths, Blazing Trails, and Changing Lives) started as a passion project in an entrepreneurship class in my program at GSEP. The course, led by visiting faculty member Dr. Vance Caesar, encouraged me to find my niche, brand myself differently, and be “best” at something. So I developed a resource to help students map out their educational path using coaching strategies such as observation, inquiry, and self instruments.

This interest also inspired me to write A Thin Book for 1st-Year Doctoral Students—a simple guide for those considering or enrolled in a doctoral program to turn obstacles into opportunities and adversities into advantages. I searched for this book as I started my own journey in a doctoral program in 2006, but, when I couldn’t find it, I decided that I should document and share my personal process with others who might benefit from these stories. I also collaborated with colleagues, other students, and alumni from GSEP, who contributed their voices to offer a broader perspective of what a doctoral program entails.

Though it is just a 30-minute read, the book contains several meaningful messages, such as “be present,” “begin with the end in mind,” “find balance,” “create new life scripts,” and “move outside your comfort zone.” A doctoral student needs to learn to think differently, try new approaches, and appreciate spontaneity and change. Most importantly, a doctoral student should discover that the importance of his or her education is not in finding the answers, but in learning to ask more questions.

What would I do if I were not afraid to fail? How much of my potential am I fulfilling compared to how much I have? Both The ABC Coach and A Thin Book are the product of this self-reflection. I hope that the insight I have attained can help others achieve success as a doctoral student, teacher, or in any other career. As GSEP has taught me, when you become an “executive leader,” the possibilities are endless.

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