In addition to my day job of running a degree program and a growing portfolio of professional development programs, I teach and consult. I also advise incoming freshman at Harvard. At yesterday’s Board of Freshman Adviser’s meeting, much of the discussion was about one of the most important roles of the advisor – and, believe it or not, it’s not giving advice.
It’s asking questions.
It’s asking questions about their hopes and fears and aspirations. It’s asking about why they chose this university over others, and what they most want to see, experience and accomplish while they are on campus. It’s asking questions about what they want to experience and accomplish in their career and in their life. It’s asking questions about how they plan to accomplish all of these things and what tradeoffs they plan to make along the way. And sometimes it’s asking questions about their answers to these questions, playing devil’s advocate and getting them to think more deeply about the questions and their answers.
These are also the same type of questions we should be asking ourselves, to make sure we’re making the most of our talents and time.