Five years ago, I went back to college to finish something I started 25 years earlier – my bachelor’s degree. My Mom strongly believed in her six children obtaining a college education, it was something that she never finished due to getting married and having children.
When I started college the first time, I had a focus on the nursing profession and even took courses while I was in high school to prepare me. My local community college had one of the best RN programs in California, which made school less expensive since I could still live a home while attending classes.
When the nursing program course work started, it was grounded in practical theory – right in line with my expectations. After this practical training, I transitioned to the clinical setting, where I was working with patients, and I metaphorically got hit smack in the middle of the eyes. What I was taught in the classroom was not what was practiced in the hospital. What the what? My kind and easy-going instructor became “Nurse Ratched.” Do you remember her from the movie One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest? She was a nasty piece of work!
I thought my natural empathic nature would be a huge benefit to my chosen career. It turned out to be a curse. I cared too much and I wasn’t able to armor up enough to not let the pain and suffering of my patients affect me. I stuck it out for several months, but I realized that my dream was not going to happen. Nursing was not going to be my career path.
I was working part-time as a teller at a Savings & Loan while going through the nursing program. I was able to get on full-time after I left college. Fast forward 25 years and I had excelled in my banking career and advanced to the level of Vice President – even without a college degree.
Over the years my Mom’s desire for me to obtain a college degree pulled at me. I’m grateful that she knew I returned to complete it prior to her passing. At commencement, as I walked across the stage to shake the President of the schools hand, I thought of her and felt she would be both happy and proud of me.
Returning back to college has been one the best decisions I’ve ever made. It reignited my love of learning and it helped me to discover my life’s purpose. It took me almost five years to finish the coursework I needed to graduate with a Bachelors of Science in Business Administration. But I did it! I did it while working 50 hours a week. I did it being a wife and a mother. I did it while my sick mother was dying and I obtained my degree earning Summa Cum Laude honors.
I researched, wrote papers, and submitted exams that incorporated current, real world business events and twenty-first century business, leadership, and personal development best practices. I learned many, many, cool things that helped me become a better leader and a better person.
I’m sure you’re wondering why I called this post CIA Method. It’s one of the practices I learned in a critical thinking course – it goes like this:
What can I control?
What can I influence?
What can I accept?
In life we don’t have control of anything but ourselves. Using this method can help us to objectively look at a situation or decision that is difficult for us.
Are there things we can control? If so, how do we do that without upsetting relationships? What do we need to do to empathically listen? What do we say and how?
Are there things that we can influence through the use of helping another see a different vantage point? What can we say to open up perspectives and remove preconceived ideas?
What can we accept and what can we not? If we are struggling to accept something how can we communicate that without emotion yet with facts and feelings so that others understand? Sometimes we just need to share how we are feeling and that we are having difficulty accepting something to help us feel better and help us move on.
What I found by using this process in my professional and personal life is that my communication improved greatly and it also strengthened my relationships. I didn’t make as many assumptions. I clarified and confirmed. I asked more probing questions and I listened more deeply.
What are other ways we can use the CIA Method in our lives? Please share your thoughts and ideas by commenting to this post!