A few moments ago I was reviewing my list of students who I had sent “life vests” and “life rafts” to in an effort to save them from themselves.

Let me explain.

Some of my students take on a weighted course load and find it more difficult than they expected to juggle school, work, family, and a social life. This is especially the case if they take a hybrid or online course, and then when you add that the course is with me, the stakes really get high.

Now don’t cringe.

I’m not a mean or difficult instructor. There’s balance with me. I’m firm and assertive yet I’m always open for negotiation. I pour myself into my classes because it is my mission to give my students enough information that becomes applied knowledge, that helps them in school, work, and in life. For me, it’s more than the textbooks that they read. I don’t want them memorizing and regurgitating information. I want to see and hear how they applied what was taught to them. I want to see their growth and help support their academic and professional needs. I want to provide them with as many tools and resources as I can; so yes, I’m extremely engaged in my classes. So no, the course work is not easy. There are no easy-A’s in my class. You will earn whatever grade that you receive.

As I tell my students:

Your grade is your paycheck and your GPA is your credit score“.

As an instructor, I’m also serious about meeting deadlines but I’m flexible in providing extensions to those who get clobbered or blindsided by life. The reality is, we all get clobbered and blindsided from time-to-time.

Someone who hasn’t needs to be studied closely.

How can I make mistakes and forget deadlines, yet punish my team for doing the same? Is that not hypocritical? The “do as I say not as I do” rule that our parents embedded in our minds is why we have as many problems in this world. We all simply wait until we gain the power to enforce that same rule on others. It’s ridiculous.

As a college instructor I run my classrooms much like a business. I inform my students that for the length of the term or semester, they are to conduct themselves as though this is a corporation, they are managers, and I am their senior manager. But as a servant leader, I am not here to bark orders and reign supreme over them; I’m also not here to hold their hands and coddle them. They are not babies or small children.

I am here to serve them, empower them, and help to elevate them to the next level.

I encourage them to respectfully challenge the textbooks and readings, and yes, even me. Their minds will only sharpen with critical thinking and by testing and applying tools and skills that they have acquired. I also make sure to frequently ask for feedback and evaluations on how much they are learning and applying from my classes, as well as how well they believe that I am managing and leading them. I frequently ask them to tell me how I can best support their learning and growth needs.

I try to intervene with students who risk falling below a “C”. I don’t want my students to fail my class. Not because of managerial pressures from the higher-ups. Not because of any of the reasons and excuses that most would assume. I don’t want my students to fail because it means that somehow I failed them. It is my responsibility as their manager-leader to help guide them. Just as I would for an employee that I don’t want to see fired or to watch go through the stages of “burn-out”. If I see “red flags” early enough I can step in and provide guidance as to how my students can improve or how they can withdraw from the class (by deadlines) and take it at a later date when life isn’t clobbering them so hard. Usually one of these two interventions work.

Sometimes it doesn’t.

There are some students who choose the chartered path that they know will lead to failure, and no matter how much I attempt to help them help themselves, they are content to splash around in that ocean while watching the life vest and raft float away.

So today as I reviewed my list of students who continue to drown in this academic ocean, refusing to use either or both the vest and the raft that I threw to them weeks ago, I ran across an old email from a student who is failing one of my classes. Weeks ago this person said that they wanted to do well in my class and that they would improve—they  just needed a strategy to do so. I provided the student with the strategy and the deadline extensions that they needed to meet in order to bring their grade up to a “C” or better.

I’m always aiming for better but I won’t force greatness on anyone who would rather be average or below. Everyone should be free to choose.

Weeks later this student still has not completed the past due work and sadly they haven’t completed any current work, yet they continue to log into the course room–most likely so that their attendance is tracked so they don’t lose financial aid and other benefits. Yes, I have students who are motivated enough to log into class to not lose their financial aid, but they aren’t motivated enough to do the work, to pass the class, to keep their financial aid. It’s a baffling logic that they operate by in their parallel universe.

Okay I should stop with my sarcasm.

There is a portion of my email message that I typed to this student that I truly believe needs to be shared with others, with you. Someone out there needs to read these few lines below, because maybe it will be the added layer that helps to snatch them out of their “funk”, their “brain fog”, their whatever is holding them back and keeping them down.

Or maybe it won’t. But I’m sharing anyway.

…your dreams and goals in life are only achieved through the efforts you make. No one will give you anything of worth simply because you show up. You must put in the work and earn the things that you desire. Those that think that greatness will just magically come to them will always find themselves cast to the side, because greatness requires boldness—it requires commitment and dedication despite and because of the odds. 

You must choose if whether you want to be good, great, average, mediocre, exceptional, or just “blah”. Your actions and efforts will align and reflect accordingly. I believe that you have the potential to be at any level that you set your eyes, mind, and heart to achieve. 

If you aim low then you will always fall below that line. If you aim high and run your well-paced race, you may fall short of the desired point but you landed much higher than if you had aimed low to begin with.

Where are you aiming?

What efforts are you making to get there?

No one can do this for you, only you can!

I hope that my student gets what I was trying to convey in my email. I hope that it helps to snatch them out of their pit and motivates them to run, walk, crawl or even roll to the victory line. They may not cross in first place, but they will cross. Every race we start we’re expected to finish.

Love,

Natasha

Copyright 2018. Natasha Foreman Bryant/Natasha L. Foreman. All Rights Reserved.

Never have I experienced the level of care, consideration, thoughtfulness, attention to detail, and efficacy from an airlines until meeting the amazing Korean Air team. You can tell from the moment you step up to the counter to check in your bags, that they are here to serve you.

Korean Air is celebrating their 45th year of service, and I wonder if for 45 years they have been providing this level of service for passengers, and how did they get their start? That of course requires me to do some research (which I haven’t done as of yet, because I’m too busy enjoying this cappuccino that the attendant just brought me!).

Now let me share a disclaimer. My husband and I are both medallion members with two super awesome airlines, and with our travel records (his definitely, definitely more extensive than mine) there are added perks when you travel with these airlines and partnering airlines. There are various upgrades and accommodations that you receive as a medallion member (or even just First-class passenger) that you don’t receive as a non-member (or Coach-class ticketed passenger), but I have to say, that even when I observed the treatment and accommodations of Coach and non-Medallion members flying with Korean Air, they still had a great experience throughout their travel.

VIP Treatment
Medallion members and First-Class ticket holders get a VIP treatment that makes you feel as though this is your private jet and your personal staff serving you.

Arrival at the Istanbul, Turkey ticket counter was met with smiles and greetings. They immediately synced our medallion status with our tickets so that it showed across the board on all of Korean Air’s computers. They then offered to plastic wrap our bags for free (a service that many people prefer when traveling around the world as it helps to protect it from bumps and bruises, as well as sticky fingers that may want to snatch an item or two from your precious cargo).

To and From Gates: Personal Guides to Escort You
The staff offers to have a personal guide to escort you to your medallion club lounge, direct you to any airport shops or restaurants that you might be interested in visiting (even escorting you there if needed) and then they escort you from the lounge (or store) to the departure gate. Yes, they come inside of the lounge and personally assist you with getting to the gate. There’s not just the traditional announcement from the lounge’s front desk (that you hope you don’t miss hearing) that indicates boarding times of flights.

With Korean Air they personally collect you and make sure that you get to your gate on time (personally handing your boarding pass and passport to the gate agent, and waiting until you board the plane). But it didn’t end there. Korean Air also has a feature that offers this same service when you arrive at each of your destinations (including connecting flights). All of this is optional, and honestly I don’t know why anyone would pass on this.

So when we arrived in South Korea we were greeted at the plane doors by a young man carrying a computer-printed sign with our name. This young man then escorted us through the security check points, answered questions about South Korea’s history, growth, culture, customs, and people (not to say that that will always be an experience that will be shared—but this was ours, and most likely because we asked the questions). Then our private escort guided us through the airport to the lounge and then returned in time to escort us through to the gate, graciously hand us off to the gate agent, and send us on our way with wishes for safe travel.

Flight Crew Experience
On board of every Korean Air plane, and now I’ve been on two, so of course I would boldly say “every”, right?!? the flight crew takes your experience up about ten or more notches. From being greeted by each crew member (even pilots), to receiving fresh and very comfortable pajamas and slippers aka “house shoes” (which normally the slippers are the only thing you receive in Business and First Class along with your toiletry bag), Bose noise-canceling headphones (Delta also offers these on select flights), an awesome toiletry bag with tons of goodies–Delta airlines also has a super awesome Tumi toiletry bag that I love collecting, and I believe it’s Air France that carries some scrumptious toiletries both in their bags and restrooms.

Speaking of restrooms…even Korean Air’s on board restrooms are spacious, comfy, and filled with travel essentials (and some pleasant potpourri that make being in that space more than tolerable). I assumed that the same accommodations are made in the Coach section of the plane. I couldn’t imagine their level of care dropping significantly, so I checked it out…wowsers, not only were they favorable, they were twice the size of the First and Business Class cabins. Why? Because Korean Air uses common sense, there are more Coach passengers than Business and First Class (and also more families traveling with small children in Coach), so you build out their restrooms with this in mind.

Class, consideration, and dignity. Just awesomeness!

So back to the pajamas…after you have slipped on your pajamas (in the restroom of course) you return to an attendant who is waiting by your seat to offer you comfy bedding that they will place over your fully-reclined seat that converts to a bed, and then they give you a fluffy blanket and pillow. I must add that Delta also has an amazing blanket and pillow for International flights. I wanted to ask for one of each to take home. But Korean Air is the first airline experience that I’ve had with full bedding for added comfort.

The Food
Oh my goodness…so I’ve already ruined my detox from my trip a few weeks ago to France, so I was rarely thinking of my food consumption when I returned to Paris several days ago, and then while in Turkey for a few days, and definitely not while aboard these fabulous planes. I just don’t have that level of willpower to say “no” to local cuisine. Besides I convince myself that their food is more organic. Yeah, like I said, I have no willpower. So anyway, from dinner to breakfast, each and every meal I had on Korean Air was absolutely scrumptious. Whether you chose Korean dishes or Western dishes (I sampled both), you will be amazed (unless you have a bland and barely exposed palate). I had the Bibimbap (and other Korean delicacies) and a glass of Gewürztraminer 2012 (that I enjoyed with my fruits and cheeses) on my flight from Turkey to South Korea.

On my flight from South Korea to Los Angeles I had the Jedong Beef, foie gras (which I normally pass up but sampled this go around), a huge salad (that I barely put a dint in) and a partial glass of Chateau Lascombes 2006 (from the village of Margaux in Bordeaux). I’m not a red wine lover or even a wine connoisseur, so this was a big girl step that wasn’t that bad. I could actually smell and taste the fruits. I think being 30,000 feet in the air may help with your senses. Maybe.

Breakfast heading to South Korea I chose an omelette, Danish, fruit and cheese, and orange juice. There was no way I could eat the yogurt or cereals offered. One reason, because I knew I couldn’t eat that much food, and the second reason is because I was trying to show that I had some willpower in limiting my amount of dairy, empty carbs, and sugar. So both flights I elected to skip that portion of what seemed like a six-course meal. Two hours before arriving in Los Angeles, my breakfast choice was scrambled eggs, cherry tomatoes (garnished with sliced red onions and tangerines), a slice of bacon, two delicious cups of cappuccino (one of which I’m sipping as I type this), and a cinnamon Danish.

Both flights I’ve been absolutely stuffed to capacity. So on this leg to Los Angeles I’ve chosen to skip the fruit and cheese because I have no more room in this belly that I’m trying desperately to get back in tip-top shape! Matter of fact as I sit here typing I feel like an ever-expanding balloon. Who could possibly eat all of this food and not pass out? Jeesh!

Arrival in Los Angeles: See you Later Korean Air!

Landing in Los Angeles was just like landing in South Korea, individual salutations by each crew member including the co-pilot, and then a group thank you and bow to the entire plane of passengers. Korean Air shows from the beginning to the end of your journey that they value you as a customer and guest with their airlines, and they value their careers and roles not just with the airlines but in the world.

Korean Air as Servant Leaders
You can tell when people are servant leaders and when people simply take a job that requires service of others. Korean Air truly has a staff, a team, a family of individuals that value excellent service and express that through their daily interaction with guests as well as amongst themselves. I will definitely travel with Korean Air again, and this time I will remember to take the complimentary pajamas and slippers with me. I naively left those comfy threads behind.

I strongly recommend that if you ever get the chance to fly with Korean Air that you seize the moment and then share your experience so that others can benefit from your viewpoint. People are quick to post negative comments about negative experiences, so let’s pour on the love when we receive an awesomely rewarding experience!

~Natasha

Copyright 2014. Natasha Foreman Bryant. All Rights Reserved.