Annual Assembly Columbus: 2019.01.23

Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.”
— Winston Churchill
Coach of the Year, Jennie Wilson

Coach of the Year, Jennie Wilson

If you have ever seen the animated movie Home, with the lovable purple squid-type aliens, you might be familiar with the poor and broken, yet comical English spoken by the main character, Oh (Jim Parsons). In one scene he is locked in a freezer by a fugitive “humans girl” named Tip (Rihanna) after they surprise each other in a vacant convenience store. The priceless (and pertinent) line that comes from Oh is, “Can I come into the out, now?”

Although exits get you out of buildings and off of freeways, when it comes to the rest of your life you can look at exits from a slightly different perspective. When I graduated high school we didn’t hold a graduation ceremony; it was called Commencement. It may have been the end of one thing, but it was certainly the beginning of another. We were indeed exiting one phase of life while simultaneously entering another.


As I listened to the students talk about their experiences, it hit me that everything they mentioned was something they would take with them into the future: a new outlook; a new perspective; a new found confidence; a new network of peers and colleagues; the resolve to influence others for good. They weren’t talking about leaving the Program, they were talking about a new phase of it.


The people who experience the Handshake Program become keenly aware of the gifts with which they have been entrusted. The focus on PERSEVERANCE, PASSION, POSITIVITY, PEOPLE, and PRESENCE isn’t just an exercise in conceptual thinking. These are real traits and virtues already built into each and every one of our students, alumni, and coaches that ultimately have a real impact on the people, groups, and communities around them. The Program doesn’t build these traits into the students, it only works to reveal them and develop them so that after their time at Handshake they become a passionate force for good.

An excerpt from Doug Probst, Co-Founder, at this year’s Annual Assembly is well worth revisiting:

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"YOU will reveal your grit with your perseverance to get through the tough times while you’re figuring out what your passions are that are driving that determination. You will inspire people with your positive mental attitude; you will surround yourself and associate with good people and begin to identify and separate yourself from the bad ones. You will continue these practices, and because you are “coachable”, you will continue to benefit from being “coached”, learn from your experiences, and keep getting better, and better, and better. You will continue to develop and consequently have more poise and confidence every day because you know deep inside that you’re doing the right things. And with these virtues you’ll ultimately have a presence that will not just be noticed when you walk into a room but, more importantly, you’ll be more appreciated and respected by people when they get to know you, work with you, and live with you. For if you continue to practice the 5Ps we discussed over the last year you will experience success. And how you’ll know it? You’ll know it because the people who know you the best, love and respect you the most – and you will be living with no regrets because you’ve done your very best."

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Having the heart and mind to do the right thing and the drive to do your best leads to a life of no regrets - this is the picture of a successful life. The 36 students from this year’s Handshake Columbus class have begun to understand this and are charging into the future. Just keep in mind that every past was once a future, every exit doubles as an entrance, and every end is met with a beginning. The moment they passed through the exit doors of that building on the Abercrombie campus and into the rainy evening, they entered into a new chapter that is still being written. We can’t wait to discover how it unfolds!

Matt Draudt - Handshake America Photographer & Blogger


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