Success is One Baby Step at a Time: Brian Polky
When 150+ people registered for the current training sessions at Rockford Beauty School – Tricoci University of Beauty Culture, they enlisted for more than classroom teaching.
“When men and women – mostly younger – sign on here at the school, they will never have to fall and get back up by themselves”, said Brian Polky, Student Success Advisor at the Rockford, Illinois campus.
Brian, who has spent most of his career helping people help themselves, has watched many students succeed, and some fail. Some of the obstacles that impede success are: financial, lack of confidence and in Rockford, Illinois: transportation.
Working with trainees from 17-54 (median age being 25), Brian sees the results of millennial age kids coming into play. Students who grew up with ‘helicopter parents’; parents who took an overprotective or excessive interest in the life of their children.
“We are dealing with kids whose parents gave them a prize for showing up. Who clapped for every ‘normal’ thing a child did. Now they are adults, in a grown-up world, and they’ve never been taught to be their own cheerleaders in life.”
He continued, “Many of the kids are not even aware that they have the power to make decisions. They just don’t have the skills, or confidence, to do it. Or even try. When they’ve fallen, other people have picked them up.”
Brain went on to say that he feels that a big part of his job is to teach the students howto ask questions. To be okay with questions that they fear others will think are stupid; to help them feel okay about removing the bubble wrap that has been wrapped around them their whole life. To give up some of their control.
“It’s important for me to find out where they are at, how fragile they are, before I begin.” Brian sighed and I could feel the compassion and frustration in his voice. Compassion for what others have been through. Frustration that he can’t do more. That he can’t immediately make them see their worth.
So, Brian, paint a picture of a perfect scenario for me.
I could hear him take a deep breath.
“The students walk in the classroom each day eager to learn. Willing to make mistakes and learn from them. When the instructors observe them, cutting hair with a trendy pair of ICON Shears in hand, the pupil knows it’s to help them and not find error. At the end of the day, as they pack their lunch bags and ICON Shears collection to head home, they are tired but happy. They know they took one baby step that day. THAT is a perfect day.”
I hung up the phone and thought about the wisdom that Brian had shared.
Meet people where they are at. Walk with them through struggles. Work with them to see the result and back it up from there. Keep eyes on the prize/passion. No matter what.
I thought I was interviewing Brian to teach others. I walked away with lessons for my life. And you will too.