Today is move in day on campus at SMU. It is a day of excitement for new students and sadness for their parents who will suffer a bit of "empty nest" feelings as they leave their child in a new place. It is also a day for first impressions.
In 1992, I was hired to coach golf at Texas A&M. I moved to College Station from Vail, CO on a typical Texas day in August. It was steamy! My arrival coincided with the arrival of our lone freshman that year, Kristina Edfors. She traveled from Kungsbacka, Sweden and we were both in the same boat; overwhelmed and overheated. We started our Aggie careers together.
In that first week, Kristina taught me something that I never forgot and has helped me a lot over the years. She told me, "No one in Texas knows me, so I get to make great first impressions every day." Her attitude was genuine and her approach was unique.
As I've remembered her attitude and approach over the years, I think to myself constantly, can I continue to make good first impressions? I popped off in a public place last week and was overheard gossiping about something I really don't have first-hand knowledge of. Someone I didn't know was listening to me, but worse yet, so were a few of my friends. I had that sinking feeling you get when you make a bad first impression and I once again remembered what I learned in 1992. Work constantly to make good first impressions, even when people know you. Work to be your best self.
As freshmen enter new schools, they will meet roommates, classmates, profs, coaches and new friends. My advice would be to think about who you want to be and then act in that way. I'm not saying to be someone other than yourself, but to be your best self. No one knows what you were like in high school or how you've acted in the past. You can create your best self now. If you aren't a freshman, you can do the same, just by working to make good impressions and being your best self. We all mess that up at times, but hopefully we learn from the mess ups and move on without allowing it to change us by dwelling on it or allowing it to build.
Here is what I work on constantly to be my best self and all of it takes effort. Listen, be kind, apologize when I should, do what I say I will do and have gratitude for what I have. As you make impressions on people, what would you like them to remember about you? New places, new people in your life and new journeys are a great time to work on new goals. Make sure you set some personal growth goals such as, "I want to make good first impressions." Good luck to all of you freshmen who are nervous and excited about what lies around the bend. Be your best self.