Session #5: Positivity 2018.08.01

Handshake America Columbus

Positivity is the state of being hopeful and optimistic.

This season's Positivity session was a tale of two faces. Why two? Well, for two reasons. First, there were two notable sets of faces: Handshake alums and current Handshake student-athletes. There have always been familiar faces at the corporate events, but this was different. There was an entire table of alumni student-athletes ranging from first year grads from the inception of the program to the most recent graduated class. Never has this richly mixed level of experience been reached in the history of the program. It was, to put it simply, exciting!

Second, there were two different faces that every person in the room was wearing: light and relieved faces when humor struck a chord, but also wide-eyed, heavy, thoughtful, and somber faces when the subject matter grew weighty. But, isn't being positive all about putting a smile on your face no matter the situation or circumstance? That's a great question. You see, the alumni were invited and assembled specifically to encourage the current class from the future. How? (You're full of great questions!) The alumni have now taken their Handshake experience and applied it to their life experience. Some of them are going into college, some have been there for a couple of years, and some are well into their professional careers at this point. This is the future into which the current class was getting a sneak peek.

If you’re still looking for that one person who will change your life...take a look in the mirror.
— Unknown

The idea that Positivity is all smiles all the time - to put it in negative terms - is false. Success 100% of the time would be fantastic, but real life comes with its unfair share of disappointment, tragedy, and failure. But Positivity is characterized by using the negatives as stepping stones. 

As the alumni assembled at the front table facing the coaches and students, they were given the opportunity to share from their body of experience. Here is where the tale of two faces became apparent. Their accounts ranged from knee and leg injuries that put their athletic pursuits on hold, to life altering injuries, to difficult personal happenstances, to transferring schools and changing majors. No ones' path progressed the way they pictured it. Most of what they shared were tough, negative, circumstances, but out of those accounts emerged the triumphs of toughness, renewed focus, renewed faith, and a fresh perspective.


The best part was the openness from all sides. The alums opened up about their experiences, and in some cases bared their souls - nothing you would share with a stranger. The students opened up about things they are worried and unsure about. And the one question that struck me, and I felt expressed the tone of the evening, dealt with homesickness and how some alumni worked through it or how it changed their trajectory. Why is that noteworthy? (There you go again!) Who stands up in front of a room full of their peers and asks about being homesick? Who tells a room full of their peers that it was such a powerful force that they transferred schools? Aren't we just supposed to suck it up and get over it, and get bullied about it if anyone finds out? Not here. Not with these peers.

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The take-home, here, is that this is a very special kind of community the coaches and alumni of Handshake America have fostered and developed over the years. There is a level of trust in this growing group you rarely see in any arena of life, and from that trust grows a Positive and successful approach to all the negativity life has to offer. Positivity isn't all smiles all the time. Positivity is thoughtful, reflective, and sometimes gritty. Positivity is not easy but as we heard tonight, it's worth the effort.


Failure is not falling down, it is not getting up again.”
— Anonymous