Gaining personal success


As we near the end of winter term, students who aren’t facing graduation are at the very least starting to think more and more about what they will do after Laurier, as they move one year closer to completing their undergraduate degree.

It’s this mounting pressure that makes it necessary to start considering one’s career destination and how to get there. While facing these stressors, it’s difficult to know whose advice to follow.

While everyone is different, The Cord has spoken to several successful alumni, asking them about their specific experiences and advice for students in the hopes that their stories can offer some assistance.

“See where your feet are and take the next steps”

Determination and focusing on specific goals is often named as the key to success. But as Chris Kardol, a counsellor and performance coach at Counselling Services, pointed out, it’s not always about having a narrow focus.

“I think some students in first year really have a good sense of direction and where they want to go. I think that can be helpful and that helps them stay focused,” said Kardol.

“At the same time I think it’s okay for students who need to sort of … figure out what fits for them and what doesn’t fit. I say to students, sometimes we figure out what we want by finding what we don’t want,” said Kardol.

Alumnus and Kitchener Centre Member of Parliament Stephen Woodworth agreed, noting that while it’s beneficial to have specific and recognizable goals, it’s important to remember that you may need to take unexpected paths to get to your final destination.

“It’s sort of like, you know your destination, but you can’t get to your destination unless you look directly down and see where your feet are and take the next steps,” said Woodworth.

Woodworth graduated from Laurier with a joint degree in psychology and political science over 30 years ago, going on to law school, working as a lawyer for 30 years and eventually becoming a politician.

“When I wanted a job I always cast a very broad net. And so for example, before I got to law school I worked in any job I could get to pay my way. I sold shoes, I delivered pianos and I worked at a car factory. I worked at a lawnmower and snow blower factory, and I did what I had to do. I was a security guard,” said Woodworth, noting that he often had to make realistic decisions in order to achieve his end goal of being a politician.

Andre Talbot, a former varsity football player and communications student at Laurier who has gone on to play for both the Toronto Argonauts and the Edmonton Eskimos, explained that in the off-season, he has taken on other jobs to gain experience and expand his resume.

“My first internship was the Score television network…. And from there I worked at Chorus Entertainment in their kids marketing division, so YTV and Treehouse. And the past couple of years I was working in sales,” explained Talbot.

“Be present and focused on the things that make you happy”

While the willingness to do what it takes is important, often your chosen life path can receive criticism or negative feedback from those around you.

Kardol explained that many students face outside pressure to be in math or business.

“It’s tricky because a lot of students do kind of go in the direction their parents think they should,” she said.

Laurier business graduate and Juno-award-winning rapper Shad explained he had voices telling him not to go into music, but that they were mostly internal.

“Outside pressure, inside pressure. I think inside pressure was more than outside pressure. It’s unconventional. It’s certainly unstable. It can be a pretty bad idea, practically speaking,” said Shad.

“It’s been really cool to see that sometimes when you have something in your heart you are passionate about or believe in it’s there for a reason,” he added.

On top of being a musician, Shad is also a masters student and joked, “I think I just hate money or something because I’m in music and I’m also a student, so I must just have some deep-seated hatred for it.”

Shad explained that he decided to do his masters in liberal arts because it was “an opportunity to study something else.”

“I really think I’ve formed the basis for a lot of my education going forward, whether it’s in school or not in school,” he added.

Talbot explained that while the job security and availability are important, it’s important to be present.

“Whatever interests you or whatever even vaguely interests you, go and find some like-minded people and pursue it further…. Whatever it is push things further and broaden your perspective,” said Talbot, regarding not only career opportunities but also extra-curricular opportunities in university.

Cindy Eadie, a former goalie for the Laurier varsity hockey team and an economics major who helped open a hockey training centre called The Zone Training, explained that in her case it was because she was so well-known in the community that she was offered a role in the new business.

“It’s all about networking in the community and making good connections,” said Eadie. “It’s about making yourself known and what you’re interested in.”

“Don’t let the tyranny of the urgent overcome the necessity of the important”

As a small-business entrepreneur and an athlete, Eadie explained that she is familiar with the difficulties of having to balance one’s personal life with one’s career.

She explained that when one opens a small business, there are huge time commitments involved because if employees are absent, it is your responsibility to ensure business runs smoothly. She noted the importance of making personal time.

Woodworth agreed, stating that one of his biggest regrets in life is working six days a week because he wishes he’d spent that time with his family.

“You can’t let the tyranny of the urgent overcome the necessity of the important,” said Woodworth, explaining that maintaining personal relationships are generally the most rewarding part of one’s life.

“I was 22 when I got to law school and met my wife on the first day, and that was an unexpected gift but it’s brought the most joy,” he stated. “When you do plan out your life, leave room for those relationships of love that will sustain you through the down periods.”

Shad also testified to the importance of relationships because they are so crucial to forming who we are.

“We have these insanely massive networks of people that only expand and we have the capacity to keep in touch with them all, everybody you met from basically the maternity ward,” he said.

“Successful or not successful, that’s something we have to deal with in this day and age. What are the relationships that are important? Who are the people that you can trust and count on? Who are the people that make you the best version of yourself?

“I really think we’re not as individual as we think we are. We’re largely a function of the people that we choose to hang out with, so I think that who you choose to invest time with is probably the most important decision you can make,” he added.

Practice yoga. That would be my biggest advice. I think it’s an important part of life that helps to bring balance. Yoga, the practice and the Western version of it, is looked at more as exercise but it’s actually just a step towards a greater understanding of your true self. Enlightenment brings peace and happiness. It can offer anyone an incredible amount of balance in their life.” —Andre Talbot, former varsity football player at Laurier and communications student who has played for the Toronto Argonauts and the Edmonton Eskimos
Think about what you want to see when you look back on your life. Among other things, a big motivator for me for sure is that you’ve exercised your faculties and your efforts as strongly as you can. You don’t want to be a couch potato. Can you imagine looking back at your life and seeing nothing but an endless parade of TV shows and potato chips? That’s not what you want to see.” —Stephen Woodworth, former psychology and political science undergraduate at Laurier and current Kitchener Centre Member of Parliament
“I’d recommend a summer term. I think I had a good time in the summer term. I’d always had an inkling as a kid that if we went to school in the summer we’d have more fun. You can study outside, you kind of have free run in the city. There’s a lot of hang-outs and the porching and just really a fun environment.” —Shad, a former business student at Laurier who is currently an internationally renowned rapper. He won an award for best rap recording at the 2011 Junos.
“As a student, I would recommend enjoying Tuesday nights at Wilf’s. Make sure to go out and be with your friends when you can. You think you’re really busy but you don’t know what busy is until you leave university and work for your own company, so make sure to enjoy it as much as you can, while you can.” —Cindy Eadie, a former goaltender for the women’s varsity hockey team and an entrepreneur who works at The Zone Training in Waterloo

Other notable Laurier graduates

Bill Downe
Bachelor of Arts
A Canadian bank executive at the Bank of Montreal who became president and chief executive officer

John Estacio
Bachelor of Music in Compositions
A contemporary Canadian composer who has been commissioned to write works for the Toronto Symphony Orchestra and has been nominated for
several Junos

Jon Melanson
MBA in Finance, Marketing and Strategy
The executive director of Canada’s National Ballet School who was appointed special advisor on arts and culture for the City of Toronto in 2010

Keegan Connor Tracey
Graduate of Social Psychology
A Canadian actress who has starred in movies like Final Destination 2 and Blackwoods

Ian Troop
Bachelor of Business Administration
Chief executive officer of the Toronto 2015 Pan-American Games Organizing Committee

Psychology experiments regarding success

Over the past few years, psychology professor Roger Buehler has conducted a series of experiments regarding goal-making behaviour and the prospects of success.

The first experiment, entitled “Finishing on time: When do predictions influence completion times?”, was done by Buehler, Johanna Peetz and Dale Griffin.

It showed that optimistic predictions about one’s projects were more likely to be beneficial if the projects were short term.

Thus, being optimistic about one’s goals can have an impact when goals are more immediate. However, it is less likely to have a role in determining how quickly career or long-term goals will be attained.

The second experiment, called “Seeing Future Success: Does Imagery Perspective Influence Achievement Motivation?”, was done by Buehler and Noelia A. Vasquez of York University.

It shows that imagining future success from a third-person perspective makes one more likely to be successful.

In other words, if one imagines future success from an outside point of view rather than the first-person point of view of imagining oneself completing the goal, one is more likely to be successful because one can then envision the self-relevance of the goal, which makes it seem more significant and important.

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