646. Two Words to Turn Education Upside Down
Laura Sandefer had no plans to start a school, much less to turn education on its head. But as she looks back over the path to her calling, she has vivid memories of a predawn chat with her father on the morning she left for college. His advice, “Be curious,” has become a consistent thread in her heroine’s journey.
Laura Sandefer is a wife, mom, and co-founder of Acton Academy, a school that has sparked a worldwide awakening around education. Her newest book, “Courage to Grow – How Acton Academy Turns Learning Upside Down,” documents the journey her family took to pursue the big questions around learning and how to unleash human potential. She lives in Austin, Texas.
How Did You Start Using Your Talents?
“My parents did a great job by teaching me to ask big questions. I was great in academics at school and was also a tennis player, but what I really loved—and this may sound strange—is that I was always the organizer, the party planner, the person who was always gathering friends together to do something. I never knew that was a talent, I just always found myself naturally in leadership positions, organizing people to get things done.”
The Most Impactful Turning Point?
“About a year into the latest step in my corporate career in a specialized niche of aviation insurance, I was sitting in my cubicle in New York City on a dark night thinking, ‘I could wake up 10 years from now and still be sitting here in the dark doing this!’ My heart was not in it. As much as I liked the security of a corporate job—and there was some prestige, frankly, being in a cool little niche other people didn’t know about—I started to realize, this is not me. I was raised to find a calling, not have a career.”
The Most Powerful Lessons Learned?
“When it was time to go to college, my car was packed and I was sitting in my driveway saying goodbye to my sisters and my mom, a very poignant moment. My dad came out to say goodbye. I thought, this is the opportunity to ask this brilliant, wonderful man what advice he would give me that would carry me through. So, I did. I expected a 20-minute sermonette, but he looked at me and said, ‘Laura, that’s easy. Two words: be curious.’ Those two words launched me into a great life. Those two words are on the back of our t-shirts at Acton Academy. They became the fundamental mantra of our school, and it came from my dad in my driveway in 1982.”
Steps to Success from Laura Sandefer
1. Be curious. Ask questions. Follow your curiosity.
2. When an urgent need is in front of you, step forward and use what you have within you to solve that problem. That’s the experience of finding your calling.
3. Find at least one person in your life who gives you honest feedback, keeps you going, keeps you in the game even when you want to quit.
4. Little changes can make a big difference in your world. You don’t have to solve world hunger to make a gigantic difference in your neck of the woods.
5. Learn to view your life as a Hero’s Journey. Read Joseph Campbell to learn about this.
Connecting With Laura Sandefer
To receive a free copy of “Courage to Grow – How Acton Academy Turns Learning Upside Down,” mention this podcast in an email to Laura at firstname.lastname@example.org
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