The symphony of Flow and the hardships of the road.

Sitting on the floor of the Exploring Eagles studio room, I listened to a symphony of FLOW. The tapping of feet against a desk in one corner played a rhythmic backbeat for the quiet humming in the opposite corner. Add to that the accent of a wrapper crumpling while a snack was opened or a drawer closing while someone extracted paper or pencil and you get music. Each of the Eagles were completely in flow - not one of them noticed the symphony around them. Later when asked, not one of them remembered hearing or even making any of the mentioned noises.

What generated such focus and flow: Goals and self-motivation! They knew what they wanted to accomplish and why.
Each day for the last two weeks, each Exploring Eagle has set a daily goal for their Silent Learning time. Each day, they reflected on their goals, their effort and their accomplishments with the questions of "what went well" or "what do you want to do differently tomorrow".   Some realized how helpful it was to post their goal where everyone could see it, some loved the repeated practice so they could fine tune their goal to find the "just right" challenge, others loved recording their accomplishments. 

Yet, which is more important: personal goals or whole studio goals?  Their paleontology quest includes individual, team and whole studio challenges - accenting this conversation. They have tackled the quest with dedication and commitment while practicing the lifelong skills of teamwork and communication.  We've watched as they make a plan, execute that plan, evaluate their plan and make a new plan (as needed). And because of this, they are almost done extracting all of the bones from their dig site!!  On to the next goal of identifying and assembling the skeletons - a daunting but doable challenge for this group of heroes!

This was the first session where the Exploring Eagles have felt the major change of being their own, separate studio. Many are missing their friends - whether because they moved into the next studio or because they moved away. Some are feeling the pressure of taking on more leadership roles. While others are facing the new challenge of self-directed learning, making new friends or when to take a stand vs when to go with the flow. 

Yet, every day, these eagles amaze me. From the beginning of this session, they have sought to make their tribe function well. They've utilized every studio Town Hall to create systems to support what is most needed - addressing various topics of concern, and working through differences of opinion. And, they've done so with more grace and patience than many adult groups I've been a part of. Nor are they afraid to bring up topics they feel are important. (In fact, their Town Hall board is covered with ideas and concerns for the next meeting.)

If all of this is going so well, what happened Friday?! 
The goal was to amplify the great teamwork and communication that they've been cultivating, and provide an opportunity for them to show themselves the type of tribe they are becoming.
Yet what happens when you add a challenge or additional stress to a situation or system?  Some get stronger or prove their strength; others start to break down. The challenge of being tied together and hike as a team seemed to amplify a few little pieces within their studio that weren't working well quite yet.

Despite the frustration (and tears), there were some beautiful moments on this challenging hike.  Pausing to enjoy the confetti of leaves falling as the wind blew through the colorful trees; sharing bits of insight and wisdom as they evaluated their strategy; and pressing forward together regardless of the challenge. Compassion, encouragement, inner strength, tough-mindedness, holding boundaries (literally and figuratively), love and courage were all showcased on this hike. These are some amazing, relentless young hearts.

At the end, they each rated the difficulty of this challenge with 5 being the hardest thing they had ever done and 1 being the easiest. Most of them rated it a 2 or 3 and no one gave it a 5.   
As one of the Eagles wisely said during the hike: "This life is going to be full of pain and challenge and we have to have the mindset to make it through."  Oh so true!!!  It reminded me of an old saying that Jonathan Haidt quotes in his book, "The Coddling of the American Mind":   "Prepare the child for the road, not the road for the child."
Some of the other tidbits of wisdom that were shared (each from a different Eagle to the group):
"The challenges in the real world will be even harder."
"You didn't sign up for this, but you signed up to be at this school and you knew that this school would be challenging."
"We are ordinary people doing extraordinary things."

They are preparing each other for their road ahead - and the road of life is not an easy one.  As these Exploring Eagles address the issues & concerns within their tribe with the same determination and courage that they did on the trail, they will cultivate the skills (physical, mental and emotional) that they need to grow their friendships, improve their leadership and prove their inner strength. These Eagles WILL find their calling in life and they will actually accomplish it!

I honor the inner strength and courage these young eagles each possess.
Thank you, Exploring Eagles!!

And thank you, parents, for letting your Eagles go out on this journey so they can learn to FLY!

Serena Cofer
EES Guide
Aim Academy

Hi, I'm Lance Stewart.

I'm the founder and Head of School at Aim Academy.

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