Why Do You Get Up in the Morning?

Blog Series, Community, Good Work, Leadership, Learning, Mission-Driven Work, PreK-12

I am not and have never been a morning person. I am definitely more of one now than I was in my 20’s, but I also don’t stay up until 3 a.m. playing video games… as often.

However, as I’ve grown in my career and made choices that finally led to what I get to do every day at Getting Smart, I’ve found not only that it’s so much easier to get out of bed early, but that I want to hurry up and start my day. (I promise I’m not just saying that because my boss will read this). I’m excited about being a part of education innovation as it’s something I’m very passionate about. It took me a few decades, but I finally discovered exactly what it is that gets me up and moving.

Which is why the following blog by Jeff Sandefer, co-founder of Acton Academy, caught my attention. Originally posted on the Acton Academy Middle School blog, Acton Launchpad Eagles aren’t expected to answer “college” to this question, as you would expect middle or high school students to respond. They are encouraged to look beyond that to identify deeper pools of inner drive. And they are taught that not only SHOULD they identify this drive, but HOW to identify it. 

So ask yourself – why do you get up in the morning? Feel free to share your reasons in the comments below. We’d love to see the variety of things that help you get moving!

Jeff Sandefer

So why do you get up in the morning? A sense of duty to family? For a paycheck? Out of habit?

When Launchpad Eagles were asked this question…. silence. Follow by more silence. Then a few halfhearted responses like: “College, I guess.”

These are the best and brightest young people we have. Hard working. Independent. Deeply invested in the Hero’s Journey. Still, the best we’ve offered them as a society to the meaning of life seems to be: “college.”

Only 19% of Texas High school students graduate from college within six years of leaving high school. According to national estimates, only half of these college graduates will find a job worthy of a college graduate. So less than 10% of Texas high school students will find college level jobs. For disadvantaged young people, the number is far lower.

And, of course, life is about far more than your job.

As a society, we are failing our young heroes.  It would be difficult to design a system to produce worse results.

We will do a better job serving our Launchpad Eagles, whatever it takes. As a start, we’ll offer four challenges to help spark a calling:

  • Circles of Trust – intimate, protected discussions about what matters in life and why.
  • Tortoise-like Contemplation – protected, quiet reflection times, free from distractions. Time for free writing or deep thought, armed with only a pad, pen and an inspirational reading.
  • Learning by Doing – setting SMART goals and measuring progress towards a goal that matters to the individual. Finding the “AND” so you can access personal passions while doing something that’s valued by the world.
  • Servant Leadership – practicing serving others, in a way that encourages your growth and theirs.

We’ll also ask Launchpadders to identify what drives her or him personally, and why:

  • Who I am
  • Where I belong
  • My promises
  • Winning the game
  • Curiosity
  • Serving others
  • Pursuing an opportunity
  • Righting an injustice or fighting against something
  • Fighting against something or someone
  • Duty to a person or God

Accessing deep pools of inner motivation is an important and never ending life skill. The answer of “Why should I get up in the morning?” is a difficult one, and many of us change our answers as we grow.

College can be an effective and transformational experience. But answering “college” to the question of “Why do you get up in the morning?” will never be a sufficient answer at Acton Academy. We expect far more from our young Launchpad heroes.

For more on Acton Academy, check out:

Jeff Sandefer is an entrepreneur, college professor and co-founder of Acton Academy in Austin, Texas.

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