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Unread 08-20-2009, 01:29 AM
KHall KHall is offline
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Re: What Happens To Your Attitude Towards Gracious Professionalism When You Leave FIR

GP works both ways. If you are the customer, being a GP to the person helping you will make it easier for them to do their job.


Its up to us to set the example. Dean's told us several times that "the world is a mess". FIRST is one powerful force working to overcome that mess. But, just like the FIRST contests, it is challenging (not always easy).

Just don't give up! The FIRST vision of the future is better than just doing more of the same. Look what (as Woodie Flowers called it) "greedy selfishness" got us -- a world-wide recession.

So when someone displays behavior below what we would call GP, rise above it and display your GP to them. You'll be doing your part to change the world for the better. Plus if you do, you'll never regret your own behavior.

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Unread 08-20-2009, 05:52 PM
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Re: What Happens To Your Attitude Towards Gracious Professionalism When You Leave FIR

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Originally Posted by Karthik View Post
In my mind John Abele is the best role model we have in FIRST. He has proven that being successful in the ultra-competive business world and being a gracious professional are not mutually exclusive. If we each took a page out of his book, we could go a long way in making the world a more palatable, yet a still progressive and productive place.
Amen. I've had the privilege of sharing a meal and a short walk with Mr. Abele at the 2006 (I think) Philly Regional judges dinner. He's perhaps the most amazing person I have ever met. I had never been face to face in a one-on-one manner with him before, but he was able to recall the work of my old team, 103 from when we were honored with the CA in 2003 and other things about me, personally, from my work as a Senior Mentor at that time. Somehow, in his busy life, he was able to take the time to get to know this information in a fair amount of detail and recall it on a moment's notice, which made me realize how much he must know about many others as well. I'm 100 percent positive it was that attention to detail, and to individual people, that has set him apart in all that he's done. A remarkable human being and an example we should all aspire to emulate - no matter how many naysayers surround us every day.
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Unread 08-20-2009, 08:55 PM
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Re: What Happens To Your Attitude Towards Gracious Professionalism When You Leave FIR

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Unread 08-20-2009, 09:41 PM
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Re: What Happens To Your Attitude Towards Gracious Professionalism When You Leave FIR

Here's a few thoughts that were behind the question -

For a few years now, I've been concerned about the cynicism of young mentors who have been through the FIRST program. I am concerned (to a lesser degree) - by the cynicism in college age students in general - but when one attaches the label, mentor, to their name, then I naturally begin to think about how cynicism, bitterness, and even ugly attitudes can affect the younger students that they mentor or say that they do. Not all college students or college mentors are cynical, bitter, or ugly but there are enough that I have had concerns. So I've wondered what happened to the attitude towards GP. Was it never there or did it disappear over time or as the students became mentors?

FRC, FTC, and FLL offer opportunities for students to work with adults in areas of problem solving, working towards mutual goals, developing strategies for working together as a team, and producing a product. All of these areas in which students are mentored can be and are applied in real world environments. What is different is the added expectation that is called Gracious Professionalism. It can be a very real expectation that can become a very real part of the team make-up, philosophy, reputation, and commitment. As students grow up through that, literally and figuratively, it can help shape their outlook and their perspectives and help them design the path they will choose to walk, follow, or create in their career and in their life. By designing their path mindfully - they bring opportunity for Gracious Professionalism to enter into areas, places, environments where it has not been seen or noticed before. Young people love to have heroes, idols, and rock stars in their lives and they admire college mentors. There's a lot of power there that can influence, affect, impact, change, and encourage. In positive or negative ways. College age students are busy creating and determining their path and that's fine and dandy. When they add the word, mentor, to that, there is a responsibility that goes with it. What I've ended up with in my thinking is that it only takes the light of one candle to illuminate darkness, simply by entering that space. When many lights are added, the space glows and shines brightly. There's nothing false or fake about that.
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Unread 08-20-2009, 10:36 PM
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Re: What Happens To Your Attitude Towards Gracious Professionalism When You Leave FIR

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Originally Posted by Karthik View Post
In my mind John Abele is the best role model we have in FIRST. He has proven that being successful in the ultra-competive business world and being a gracious professional are not mutually exclusive. If we each took a page out of his book, we could go a long way in making the world a more palatable, yet a still progressive and productive place.
I have had to opportunity to talk to John one on one two or three times. Not only is he a FIRST guy, he is a 1st class guy. A fine gentleman indeed. We could all take a page from his book !!! John is proof that you can be a fine gentleman and a fine businessman at the same time.
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Unread 08-20-2009, 10:54 PM
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Re: What Happens To Your Attitude Towards Gracious Professionalism When You Leave FIR

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Originally Posted by JaneYoung View Post
For a few years now, I've been concerned about the cynicism of young mentors who have been through the FIRST program. I am concerned (to a lesser degree) - by the cynicism in college age students in general - but when one attaches the label, mentor, to their name, then I naturally begin to think about how cynicism, bitterness, and even ugly attitudes can affect the younger students that they mentor or say that they do. Not all college students or college mentors are cynical, bitter, or ugly but there are enough that I have had concerns.
I honestly see this statement as a bit surprising. I guess I've just had a completely different experience with college. As a college student, I would like to be able to speak on behalf of a good percent of us. We aren't cynical or bitter or ugly. We are beat down daily by a massive work load. We survive on less money then most think possible. Every test is trying and the bills can be an aweful blow. But my experience is that in hardship, is when the human spirit really shines. I like to think of a song they sing at MIT. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0ecQ2zJqrFw

It's a cheery tune from some tortured souls. I honestly can't say I've met a cynical college student. We just have too much fun and are too busy for cynicism.

Jane, I certainly don't doubt things may be different in the area you've seen. I just can't see this being as widespread as your post would suggest. I just would like to ask teams to give college students a trial run and not dismiss them as being cynical. Some may be, but the vast majority aren't. And we can certainly add a bit to the team dynamic. At least, I'd like to think we can.
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Unread 08-20-2009, 11:06 PM
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Re: What Happens To Your Attitude Towards Gracious Professionalism When You Leave FIR

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I honestly see this statement as a bit surprising. I guess I've just had a completely different experience with college. As a college student, I would like to be able to speak on behalf of a good percent of us. We aren't cynical or bitter or ugly. We are beat down daily by a massive work load. We survive on less money then most think possible. Every test is trying and the bills can be an aweful blow. But my experience is that in hardship, is when the human spirit really shines. I like to think of a song they sing at MIT. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0ecQ2zJqrFw

It's a cheery tune from some tortured souls. I honestly can't say I've met a cynical college student. We just have too much fun and are too busy for cynicism.

Jane, I certainly don't doubt things may be different in the area you've seen. I just can't see this being as widespread as your post would suggest. I just would like to ask teams to give college students a trial run and not dismiss them as being cynical. Some may be, but the vast majority aren't. And we can certainly add a bit to the team dynamic. At least, I'd like to think we can.
Yup.

And college mentors do certainly add a bit to the team dynamic.

What I'm wondering about is the disconnect that does happen with some college mentors. Here's the deal - if high school students (and younger) are exposed to the talents, ideas, hands-on applications of engineers and other technical and professional mentors and they are inspired by what they observe, participate in, experience in FIRST - then how does a disconnect happen to the point where Gracious Professionalism is no longer part of their attitude when approaching real life problems and situations? If there is a disconnect then what is causing it and why? Is its potential impact not valid or just temporarily put on hold while college happens? Because if college mentors dismiss it or diss it, then I think there is a disconnect somewhere, even if it is just a few.
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Unread 08-20-2009, 11:35 PM
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Re: What Happens To Your Attitude Towards Gracious Professionalism When You Leave FIR

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Yup.

And college mentors do certainly add a bit to the team dynamic.

What I'm wondering about is the disconnect that does happen with some college mentors. Here's the deal - if high school students (and younger) are exposed to the talents, ideas, hands-on applications of engineers and other technical and professional mentors and they are inspired by what they observe, participate in, experience in FIRST - then how does a disconnect happen to the point where Gracious Professionalism is no longer part of their attitude when approaching real life problems and situations? If there is a disconnect then what is causing it and why? Is its potential impact not valid or just temporarily put on hold while college happens? Because if college mentors dismiss it or diss it, then I think there is a disconnect somewhere, even if it is just a few.
I think part of the disconnect can occur on days when the college student is having a particularly rough day/week (Midterms and Finals come to mind) Another portion could be a very pessimistic view of their future, in engineering many people who have a decade of experience cannot get a job right now, what chance do I have?

Personally I make a point not to let my personal pessimism and cynicism show to a student until I trust that they know me well enough to see I am having a bad day.

As for what can be done to correct a disconnect, should it be discovered in college age students? The simple approach would be to remind engineers that it isn't always just the high schoolers who occasionally need inspiration, college students and fellow mentors often need just as much inspiration from time to time.
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Unread 08-21-2009, 11:26 AM
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Re: What Happens To Your Attitude Towards Gracious Professionalism When You Leave FIR

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As for what can be done to correct a disconnect, should it be discovered in college age students? The simple approach would be to remind engineers that it isn't always just the high schoolers who occasionally need inspiration, college students and fellow mentors often need just as much inspiration from time to time.
Thanks for the insight, Andrew. I, personally, have felt that one of the groups that is overlooked but that continues to need support and mentoring, is the college age group. The idea that high school students are to be inspired and encouraged to move into careers in science and technology is a great idea but what happens after they graduate? Are they totally on their own now? What is the plan? Is there one? Do they just strike out on their own, loaded up with information, know-how, experience/experiences that many high school graduates lack, but still need guidance and training in how to apply all of that? Not everyone does need support or encouragement but it would seem to me that there is a gap of some kind: well, we got you through elementary school, middle school, and high school - and hey, guess what - the real world is out there - go forth. When in actuality - college age students need the support and encouragement and even perhaps some how-to's in how to apply what they've gained and learned while participating in FIRST as they transition to adulthood and real world demands.
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Unread 08-21-2009, 12:22 PM
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Re: What Happens To Your Attitude Towards Gracious Professionalism When You Leave FIR

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I think part of the disconnect can occur on days when the college student is having a particularly rough day/week (Midterms and Finals come to mind) Another portion could be a very pessimistic view of their future, in engineering many people who have a decade of experience cannot get a job right now, what chance do I have?

Personally I make a point not to let my personal pessimism and cynicism show to a student until I trust that they know me well enough to see I am having a bad day.

As for what can be done to correct a disconnect, should it be discovered in college age students? The simple approach would be to remind engineers that it isn't always just the high schoolers who occasionally need inspiration, college students and fellow mentors often need just as much inspiration from time to time.
I can vouch for Andrew when he says he doesn't let any cynicism and pessimism transfer over to a student. There are times when we talk as friends and joke around about things like this, but then the most important times are when he says "I'm telling you this as a mentor," no matter what it is, those moments mean a lot.
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Unread 08-21-2009, 02:08 PM
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Re: What Happens To Your Attitude Towards Gracious Professionalism When You Leave FIR

GP is a great concept that needs to be taught to the students. You can not expect them to just pick it up through the season. We had a student that talked negative and like most young kids they think its cool to be negative, adults also do the negative thing. We had to teach the student how to be gracious and professional. When ever the student started to speak negative we would correct him/her. By the end of the season this student had a whole different positive attitude that was great to work with. If you are a naturally negative person you have to work at GP and learn it but it can be done and it will reward you more than you think. If you’re a collage student going into a negative work atmosphere you will have to work extra hard using GP and do your job to the best of your ability. Doing so will make you stand out in the crowd and help elevate you above the others. Not all work places are cut throat, and if they are they usually will not last.
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Unread 08-22-2009, 09:15 PM
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Re: What Happens To Your Attitude Towards Gracious Professionalism When You Leave FIR

As a business owner and FIRST support/coach/mentor/college student (and anything else you want to throw into the mix!) GP is extremely import in many different aspects.

1. As a business owner for the past 17 years, I will tell you I am in business for 1 purpose and 1 purpose only. To make money. Pure and simple. That may be tough for some to understand but if you aren't making money then there is no job. I enjoy having competition, it is a game. Who will win the contract, it is the thrill of the game! if I'm not making money, you don't have a job!

2. I deal with pain in the butt customers on a daily basis. In my head I tell myself 'poor planning on your part doesn't make for an emergency on my part". However if I was to say that I would be out of business. I grit my teeth and put a smile on my face and tell the customer "not a problem, we can take of anything'!

3. As a coach/mentor to 2 FIRST Teams, it is my job to teach kids (and some parents) that GP is of the utmost importance. Nothing will get built without it. We may not like the person we have to work with but you will put the perverbal smile on your face and deal with it. I had 2 girls who came from different areas in life. 1 decided to be somewhat aggressive verbally only because the other was made safety captain. She decided she wasn't going to follow the safety rules. Before all was said and done the 2 became very good friends. We had to teach her that this is how to be GP.

4. Oh college students, I have a new found sympathy for you! Having to work, have a ton of homework placed on you and oh those mid terms and finals! Yes you deserve kudos and a huge pat on the back. At age 46 I decided it was time for me to go to college for the first time. I graduated in just a few months but now I am looking towards getting a master's. You have to use GP just to get by. Those professors aren't going to give you the time of the day without it. If I was to approach a professor with an attitude i am sure it is somehow going to reflect on my grade.

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Unread 08-23-2009, 09:06 PM
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Re: What Happens To Your Attitude Towards Gracious Professionalism When You Leave FIR

Gracious Professionalism
What is it?

This is something you do not learn. This value is in all of us and some bring it out gradually, some hide it and most it's always apparent. Parents encourage it, Faculty advisors request it and mentors have a means to provide it and inspire it. It is not just how you talk to somebody, it is how you listen to them, and it’s not just how you treat them and its how you like to be treated at the worst time of your life. In my team, I expect it! Team’s talk to each other negatively about another and talk to other’s who are friendly with that team positively, this is not gracious. When you hear things and you allow others to do this, this is not gracious. Just because they cannot hear, what you have said; does not mean that you are gracious. If you speak negatively about another or some team and it is about facts. Would this be a violation of Gracious Professionalism? I do not think it would be if it only about the facts, it is only when you add innuendos and opinions, then this becomes un-gracious

I have witness teams speak negatively about themselves and other teams while they were in the shadows. What they stated had been un-Gracious. In these events I try to speak up you never know who is watching or listening. Some of the teams speaking negatively who were doing the talking have won the most prestigious awards in FIRST and they were not acting in the spirit of Gracious Professionalism. This just tells me that FIRST is losing its roots.

I remember the days when all teams were gracious and we all help each other.
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Unread 08-23-2009, 11:50 PM
Ian Curtis Ian Curtis is offline
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Re: What Happens To Your Attitude Towards Gracious Professionalism When You Leave FIR

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Originally Posted by Akash Rastogi View Post
I can vouch for Andrew when he says he doesn't let any cynicism and pessimism transfer over to a student. There are times when we talk as friends and joke around about things like this, but then the most important times are when he says "I'm telling you this as a mentor," no matter what it is, those moments mean a lot.
Posting a rant about how Gracious Professionalism will never find its way into "the real world" on a public forum visited by hundreds, if not thousands of high school FIRSTers hardly seems in line with preventing the transfer of any cynicism and pessimism into students.


That said, preventing the transfer of any cynicism and pessimism seems an awful lot like censoring, and no one likes to be censored. Healthy debate is always good, and that seems to be what we have here.
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Unread 08-24-2009, 12:20 AM
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Re: What Happens To Your Attitude Towards Gracious Professionalism When You Leave FIR

Quote:
Originally Posted by iCurtis View Post
Posting a rant about how Gracious Professionalism will never find its way into "the real world" on a public forum visited by hundreds, if not thousands of high school FIRSTers hardly seems in line with preventing the transfer of any cynicism and pessimism into students.


That said, preventing the transfer of any cynicism and pessimism seems an awful lot like censoring, and no one likes to be censored. Healthy debate is always good, and that seems to be what we have here.
You would prefer I had lied and said that the real world was full of roses and bunnies and rainbows? I could do that but I felt it was more important to let the students know the real world doesn't want GP, it wants profit. GP can't be gently put into the real world. I believe my posts accurately reflects my views of the real world. Additionally it helped spur discussion, without someone taking an opposite side this discussion would quickly have ended.

As a mentor I do try my best, I am only human, we all fail sometimes, my rant was partially fueled by my frustrations at school and work, working in this sort of economy as a CoOp is not a pleasant experience. As such many of us are quite stressed and more and more people are cynical about our futures. I believe it is in our best interests not to hide our views of reality from our students, to do that would be dishonest and against our goals. Only by presenting the cold hard stuff of reality can we be sure our students are adequately informed to choose engineering as a major.
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