My First Inflection Point

Those of you who are regular readers of my blog know that I am big on inflection points. This past weekend I had the opportunity to visit the site where I made my first big decision on my own that would shape the direction of the rest of my life.

 

Hyperbole!

 

It is not every day you decide where you go to college. With quite a bit of clarity, on a warm April morning while sitting on a bench looking out into the horizon on the boardwalk in Asbury Park, New Jersey… I decided where to go for college.

I thought about that day and the decision this past weekend when I visited Asbury Park for a photography workshop.

I arrived early, grabbed a cup of coffee and sat down on the bench, and thought about a decision made and a life well-lived.

 

The Backstory Of That Inflection Point 

In the spring of my senior year, I narrowed my choice of schools down to the University of Pittsburgh or Dickinson College.

 

A big school in a city I was familiar with and a small school in Central Pennsylvania I had visited many times over the years.

 

We were headed to Asbury Park, an annual rite of passage related to my dad’s business, and I had a decision to make.

My parents would support me either way but told me it was my decision to make. So I hoped in the car and drove from Connecticut to New Jersey with the catalogs from each school and a choice to make.

I thought about it on the three-hour ride but was no closer to deciding when I arrived. 

The following day I decided to get up early with the catalogs and head to the beach to do some thinking.

What I Learned in 2022 About Myself at 17

I found a quiet place to sit on the boardwalk, looking out on the ocean. It was likely not the same bench, but the view was the same.

 

As I sat there this past Saturday, I thought about that day, the process, and the decision.

The 17-year-old version of me sat staring at the ocean, soaking in the sand and seagulls. I remember feeling very calm and relaxed, absorbing the sites and sounds around me.

 

The world slowed down for the first time in my life.

 

Loosely defined, I think it was the first time I felt mindfulness.

I looked at each of the catalogs and began to think about my future with what, in hindsight, was some pretty good self-awareness.

 

All other things being equal, both schools offered me courses I was interested in with either a foundation in economics or business, however the liberal arts focus of Dickinson would require me to step out of my comfort zone and challenge me to take a wide variety of courses on diverse topics.

 

A nod to my growth mindset and sense of curiosity. 

The other factor ultimately was the size of the school. At the end of the day, I was a shy, introverted 17-year-old kid who was not quite ready for the bright lights of Pittsburgh despite having a great support system in place. 

 

It was a heart and gut decision, and I chose to attend Dickinson and have no regrets.

Fast Forward

As I sat on the bench on Saturday morning and thought about that day, I smiled and laughed inside because I handled that first inflection point pretty well.

 

I had a fantastic college experience and encountered my first group of advisors and mentors who helped set me up to take on the challenges and inflection points that would follow.

 

Most importantly, I met Diane at Dickinson, and together we have raised two beautiful children, Barry and Stephanie. (Barry, by the way, is a proud graduate of the University of Pittsburgh.)

 

Final Thoughts On That Inflection Point

As I reflect on my journey and that April day, I am reminded of one of the core principles of coaching.

 

As individuals, we are all creative, resourceful, and whole.

 

The power to make the right decisions for ourselves is within us.

 

But, sometimes, we just need the help of a coach to do clear-headed thinking.

 

I would love to help you with your decision-making and life goals. Give me a call today and let’s figure it all out!

 

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1 comment

  1. Suann Ingle

    Fantastic post Alex. The photo is a perfect complement to the moment you capture so well here.

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