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Why a “Back to School” Mindset is Healthy for Everyone

Tom Sullivan

August 23, 2016
Tom Sullivan

Do you remember the excitement of getting ready for a new school year?

The first part of that excitement came from the unknown: What will your teachers be like? Who will your classmates be? Where will you have to be and when?

The second part of that excitement came from the anticipation of learning new things, reconnecting with old friends and making new ones. And, of course, refreshing your wardrobe.

For me, the best part of “Back to School” is the idea of a fresh start. It’s the season for setting new goals, trying new things, taking risks. Really, it’s a chance to shape and define who you are and who you will become.

I think every organization should adopt a “Back to School” mindset. The day after Labor Day should be thought of as the starting line of a new season. How do you close out the year achieving the most important goals? How do you update a strategic plan, or start a new one?

Droga5, the AdAge 2016 Agency of the Year, continues its explosive growth in a rapidly evolving industry by viewing each new year as a new opportunity. The company sets new goals for itself that will both challenge and excite its team. David Droga, the company’s founder, says, “Our core has to be the same, and we have to try to do it in a way that’s relevant for now. So what’s great in 2015 might not be great for 2016.” This is a way for the company to keep its passion alive and its ideas fresh.

In 2015, leaders at Coca-Cola released a five-point approach that they hoped would reignite sales and growth. While they planned to achieve this by becoming more streamlined and improving advertising quality, a large part of Coca-Cola’s plan was also “refocusing on its core business model of building the world’s greatest beverage brands.” This struck me as an important strategic move and one that reflects the “back to school” spirit. Similar to Droga5, staying rooted in the company’s original vision is seen as an important way to achieve success. Reminding your company of that vision can reinvigorate a belief in the company’s mission and spark excitement for the future.

Here are three tips to help you and your organization embody the back-to-school spirit:

  1. Set new goals and refresh older ones when appropriate. When you walked into the classroom for the first time after a long summer break, you had new and exciting ambitions to fulfill in the upcoming school year. Setting these goals for yourself renewed your motivation and boosted your spirit. Find this feeling within your organization as well.
  1. Evolve with the times. As you grew older, you also grew wiser in your academic career. Hopefully, that new knowledge, expertise, and confidence gave you the tools you needed to adapt to each year’s new and unique environment. Similarly, your organization should recognize and take advantage of the changes that occur within an industry. Never stop trying to learn and understand the industry you love. Even in the professional realm, class is never out of session.
  1. Stay rooted in what motivates you. In school, you were motivated to see your goal of attending college achieved or to make your parents proud of you. The first day of school always reinvigorated your conviction in these motivations. Your company should be reminded of its motivations as well. Sometimes the stress of what needs to get done in the immediate future can blur the overall purpose of the work. Why did you choose to be here? What was the purpose of this job or this organization? Remember the driving force behind it all.