The Unconventional Academy: Unleash Potential, Accelerate Dreams

31st January 2012

Last week, my dear friend Teju called me and asked a very important question. He said, “Amber, what is your vision for the Passion Experiment? Where do you see it going?”

"Oh, that’s easy," I said, "I dream of creating an unconventional academy where the aim is to awaken and unleash that which exists inside of each individual."

I then went on to explain to him how all my clients are these incredible mid-20 to late 30’s professionals who suddenly stop in their tracks one day and say, “Shit. What the hell am I doing with my life?”

This problem is PREVENTABLE. Currently, I’m working with individuals to fix what’s not working. As much as I love it, I can’t stop obsessively thinking about how I can PREVENT it from happening. This requires a knowledge of self, talent/skill, and how that relates to what the world needs. It requires mentorship, a redefinition of success, a paradigm shift in terms of what’s possible as well as opportunities and connections to advance passions and skills. My gut says that the right (initial) market for this opportunity is passionate, non-traditional college students with a track record. Those who define success as living a life of meaning, fulfillment, and purpose. A life in which every step they take helps someone else take a step forward too. 

For almost an hour, I eagerly paced around my apartment sharing these ideas and thoughts with Teju. Surprisingly, he had the same dream in mind for me too. Soon after our conversation, we got together to discuss the current state of education, learning, and how I might launch a “life accelerator program” for 30 or so ambitious college students in Boulder this summer. We talked about the need in society and the learnings I’ve had through the Passion Experiment over the last 9 months.

As I work toward figuring out how to make this dream a reality, and whether or not it’s feasible to launch in Boulder this summer, I figured I’d share some of the early thinking and learnings surrounding the next phase of what I hope will become an “Unconventional Academy” of sorts…

> The current aim of education is to maximize economic productivity and prepare people for jobs. The ways in which we work are drastically changing. Through personal experience and working with clients, I’ve realized that what isn’t being taught is how to take risks, fail, experience meaning, understand passion, create change, and realize purpose. (I want to… no, I NEED to, facilitate this learning and discovery process.) 

> Non-traditional teachers, please! Most of our current teachers are products of the same system. This system isn’t working. For me and many others that I know, learning became a game. College, for me, was about learning the system, working the system, and then doing whatever the hell I wanted in my spare time. School only perpetuated a cycle of obligation and procrastination, two things that are never present when you’re doing something that is meaningful and fulfilling. I want to break this cycle. I’ve done it for myself and I want to do it for others.

> There is a need for this. Over the last 9 months, I’ve helped 30 people, via a 4-week program, make positive transformation in their lives. I’m not the only person doing this. Also, how often do you hear college students say “I don’t know what to do with my life” and professionals say “I’m not in love with what I do.” Fuck that. There’s a better way to live.

> Community is key. The work I’ve been doing is one-on-one. From my experience bringing like-minded people together via Nightowls, I believe that creating a community environment will only accelerate positive changes and strong bonds. That’s why through a pilot program, I want to bring about 30 students together for some amount of weeks this summer to see what happens.

> This school will solve many problems that exist today. When we’re equipped with the resources, skills, and access to live a life of meaning and purpose, to work on what we love, to honestly express emotions and communicate truly, I believe this will drastically increase happiness, decrease divorce rates, and as a result, maximize economic productivity. 

Big meeting today to map out how to make this happen… Wish me luck. I’ll keep you posted.

And if you have any ideas on how I should make this happen, please shoot me an email (me @ heyamberrae . com).

ps - if you’ve been following my writing, I talked about wanting to launch a membership site a month or so ago to accomplish the same types of things. After having more in depth conversations on why and what I hoped to accomplish, and realizing that I didn’t know a damn thing about membership sites before making that announcement (lesson learned), I realized that building something online is unlikely to accomplish my aim, at least not in the beginning. 

(photo via 365q)

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    Amber Rae touches upon one of my main gripes with the current educational paradigm. (We do not learn how to create and...
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