Becoming a powerful person

Strong inner growth combines curiosity with determination.


Every year in Spring Semester my third-year seminar students struggle to find topics for academic research. They ask themselves, “What do I really want to study?”

This question leads some of them to ask more profound questions. One recently wondered, “How can I become a more powerful person?”

A good liberal arts education helps learners ask and seek answers to questions like that. It’s quite a challenge, especially when students are overwhelmed by commercialism in popular culture and quite a bit of so-called career education. Contemporary society actively discourages critical study and deep reflection, so educators have to aggressively promote the quest for meaningful growth.

Of course, there are no easy answers, but often I point out the great diversity of our graduates, and I describe how some powerful people have challenged themselves.

Powerful people that I know are driven by something that transcends normal, everyday concerns. They have a burning desire to learn or to help other people or simply to excel at something. And their determination to succeed is greater than their fear of failure.

I think a key motivator is curiosity. Young people want to know themselves more deeply, and they develop inner strength as they combine their curiosity with determination and courage. They show their strength in various ways. Some develop deep empathy and compassion for others, some excel in academic achievement or in music, sports, or the arts, and some become strong leaders, even while they’re very young.

Every powerful young person that I have known has shown curiosity about something and determination to succeed at some challenge that most people would not dare to attempt.

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