Life is not about the destination, it is about the journey to get there. People tend to focus on the endpoint of the journey, but they have got it all wrong, says Fred Wood.
Wood, the vice chancellor of student affairs, spoke on Wednesday as part of the Last Lecture Series hosted by the ASUCD Academic Affairs Commission.
Titled “Reflections for a Meaningful Journey,“ Wood discussed various points of advice he has stumbled upon through his life that he had wished he learned years before.
“[Wood] hopes that these ‘tips‘ will help students succeed as both students and in life,” said Marcus Tang, a junior political science and communication major and the current Academic Affairs Commission chair in an e-mail interview.
Wood first explained the title for his talk. He chose the word “reflections” for two reasons.
“[I chose] reflections because it is very reflective to do this,” Wood said. “[Also], I thought it was clever because this year’s Picnic Day theme was reflections.“
He said that the words “meaningful” and “journey” were decided upon because we all do better and are happier when we do something that has meaning and that life is an adventure.
“How to get there is so much more important than the destination,” Wood said.
Wood’s first piece of advice was to live in the moment. Students tend to worry about the future too much, not fully appreciating where they are at that moment, he said. They are always focused on the destination and that causes unnecessary anxiety.
“[Students] can take the approach that [they] don’t know where [they’re] going but [they] can participate in the moment,” Wood said. “Take advantage of those moments.“
His second point was for students to be more adventuresome and take chances. He said students need to push themselves and do things they are bad at.
Wood continued to explain how he became vice chancellor and how each step of his life brought him closer to that destination without realizing it.
“Find things you love and do those things,” Wood said. “Let them develop and they’ll naturally develop. Make your own luck.“
Wood’s third point called for students to embrace diversity and its value in society. Students are in college to learn things they do not know. They have to embrace the idea that they will meet a diverse population in college that they will not get later in life. This experience, Wood said, is essential.
“It’s natural to be uncomfortable around people you don’t know but if you can embrace it and try it, you won’t be disappointed,” he said.
Wood continued his talk with his next point about personal integrity and always being honest. Wood calls for students to tell the truth at all times because it creates a healthful, productive relationship of trust with others.
“Be honest even when it hurts, even if it hurts your relationship with others, even if it hurts you, be honest,” he said. “If you do that, so much more can come from it because you’re trusted.“
For his fifth point, Wood told the audience to find their priorities and set them straight. He admitted that it is very easy to lose your priorities when focused. He then told a story about how his priority at one point in time was getting tenure and not his family. His wife, in order to make a point, made him a name card at dinner that said ‘daddy‘ to hit home that his priorities were misplaced.
“Time is your most valuable asset [so] use it to what matters,” Wood said. “Spend time on what you can influence and change.“
Wood’s final main point dealt with the issue of leadership. He explained that leaders are not born that way. They earned the title by working hard, being committed and having a perspective of service.
“Any great leader is all about serving others,” Wood said. “Take advantage of opportunities to serve others as this will give you the opportunity to be a leader and lead you to what you want to do.“
The vice chancellor concluded his lecture with a few summarizing points. We all need to find balance in our lives; we need to spend quality time with the ones we love and find a place to renew our soul, he said.
He also implored the audience to say thank you whenever possible, because it is so underutilized.
Students in the audience took to heart Wood’s advice on a meaningful journey.
“We are too preoccupied on the future and sometimes we forget that the things we do now aren’t just steps to get to the future but are things that shape us in ways we don’t realize,” said Ashley Lee, a sophomore managerial economics major.
NICK MARKWITH can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.