by Jason Allen
In 2012, Phired Up won the AFA Award for Excellence in Educational Programming for our innovative Be The Person Program (BTP). That program partnered with Mike Dilbeck and the RESPONSE ABILITY Project, and it focused on bystander intervention, values alignment, Social Excellence, leading community change, and determining one’s connection and mattering to the world.
Let’s fast forward to 2017…
We had the tremendous opportunity to rewrite, rework, and re-hype the Social Excellence portion of the BTP curriculum for one of our long time “phriends” at Robert Morris University for their pre-freshman orientation this Fall. Taking the lead on this was exciting, terrifying, and invigorating at the same time. I was given the opportunity to rethink an award-winning program for students who would spend their first 4 days on campus with the Phired Up Team. The pressure was on.
With the help of our brilliant team, I wrote for days. I planned new sessions. I organized new activities that Phired Up had never done before. I was running wild with ideas.
The time came for the program to start, and with Josh Orendi as our lead facilitator, Tyler Blaker as our brilliant video and tech guru, and myself as our behind the scenes man, I knew we were about to crush this experience. What I wasn’t prepared for was how amazing the student mentors (facilitators) were going to be. I knew they would be great, but they exceeded all expectations.
During the program, we invited the students to get uncomfortable through engaging in powerful conversations with strangers. We asked them to explore Social Excellence and the way it impacts their view on the world. We brought them into the City of Pittsburgh to complete random acts of kindness. Ultimately, we asked them to define how they were going to “be the person” who changed the world.
Post program, through the feedback we received, we knew we provided a life-changing and transformational program for these incoming freshmen. We watched quiet students become more active and engaged with their fellow participants. We saw people cry because of the deep connection they made with a new friend (who just 30-minutes prior was a stranger).
Here’s a direct quote from one of the participants that let me know we had succeeded: “…being Socially Excellent has nothing to do with perfection. It’s all about learning to stay curious, stay generous, be vulnerable, and more importantly, being authentically you; and that’s a lesson I will never forget.”
Selfishly, this experience was just as impactful for me.
- I was reminded that Social Excellence does not mean extroversion. It means being the best version of themselves through its 4 principles.
- After an emotional and chaotic summer, I felt re-grounded in my work and in the company. It is easy to become lost in the chaos and use it as an excuse to not be the best version of yourself. But, after the RMU LEAD Program, I felt motivated to get my shit together.
- I learned that impostor syndrome is real, and I was unsure if the program would accomplish all that we had imagined. But, I also learned that I am damn good at my job. When tackling new tasks or ideas, I often times find myself second guessing if I am good at my job, is this the right approach, what if people don’t like it, etc. As cliché as it is, I had to lean into the program, let it flow how we designed it, and hope we land on our feet at the end. And friends, we landed.
- My team, the student participants, and the mentors accepted the authentic me who is sarcastic, curses a lot, and cares too much. And that’s a great feeling. When meeting new people and facilitating content, I fear that people won’t appreciate my craziness. But as Josh said during the program, I just needed to be accepted by my fellow weirdos.
- And, I want to be the person who advocates for others.
We’ve got an awesome opportunity to keep spreading the Social Excellence message to students across the country. We’ve been doing it for years with our blogs, resources, books, and keynotes. Now, we’ve redesigned the Social Excellence portion of the Be The Person experience to bring Social Excellence alive on college campuses. Whether over a weekend, a summer orientation, or as a special stand-alone event, I’m extremely excited for the possibilities awaiting the future of Be The Person on campuses across the country.
We are also excited to be exploring further conversations with Mike Dilbeck on a version of the program that includes a conversation on dignity. Want to learn more about how your school can host this incredible, life-changing experience? I’d love to connect with you, so give me a call or send me an email.