Building discipline muscle: Communication

Terry Brooks smiling at the camera For Arizona State University Online student Terry Brooks, earning a bachelor’s degree in Communication has resulted in not only educational success, but an entire life transformation. His work ethic and discipline throughout his time as a student powered him through classes and, in doing so, formed the pillars of achieving his personal goals and career aspirations.

Prior to enrolling, Terry was working full time as a sales manager for a used car dealership. As he watched his sister go through ASU’s Starbucks College Achievement Plan, he began to feel he wanted more. He had attended community college out of high school but ultimately dropped out, and his sister’s positive experience motivated him to try again.

“I didn’t want to sell cars my entire life, but not having a degree was such a barrier to getting my foot in the door anywhere,” he says. “I decided to apply and see if I could get accepted.”

As he began his journey in the Communication program, Terry soon realized that online classes were the missing ingredient in his previous schooling. He enjoyed the flexibility of being able to work whenever he had the time, and took advantage of resources such as his counselor and Success Coach to map out his plan for graduation.

The biggest takeaway I got from my ASU Online experience was starting to figure out how much I’m actually capable of and how much I was leaving on the table. Through the process of learning that I had all this extra brain power and energy, along with building the discipline muscle to show up every day and chunk down long-term goals into smaller milestones and tasks, I started realizing I could be doing way more.

“They were great at asking quality questions on why I was even going to college, what it would feel like when I accomplished it, and why it was important to feel that way,” he says. “They got me recalibrated on what the mission was and helped me start to build on a strategy for how to get to the next milestone without imparting any negativity on my vision. Instead, they helped me see things clearer and focus on what was most important. I think that’s why I didn’t make it the first time; I just didn’t know what was most important to me.”

Though he started out thinking he wanted to move into a career outside of the car business, his transition toward becoming an effective student soon carried over into his work life, leading to better sales results and more passion for what he was doing. By the time he graduated from ASU Online, business had gone into overdrive. In his first calendar year post-degree, he earned six figures and was offered a position as manager of an RV dealership in San Diego. This past year, the RV store had more sales than ever before, and Terry was most recently promoted to run the company’s primary location in Orange County.

“You have this vision for your life, and the universe has a funny way of giving you what you want, but not always in the way you expected,” he says. “The biggest takeaway I got from my ASU Online experience was starting to figure out how much I’m actually capable of and how much I was leaving on the table. Through the process of learning that I had all this extra brain power and energy, along with building the discipline muscle to show up every day and chunk down long-term goals into smaller milestones and tasks, I started realizing I could be doing way more. Thanks to ASU, I have the confidence to apply what I learned but also am open to learning new things and taking risks.”

He likens running an RV dealership to tackling a new course syllabus: “Even though I had a background in car sales and RVs are similar, I had no experience selling them. It’s like getting a new syllabus and looking over the different lessons for each week and chapters covered. When you take over a business, there are different areas you need to focus on and create task lists for in order to revamp it and make it profitable. You identify and manage your priorities, working your way toward getting an A.”

On a personal level, Terry’s work ethic and perseverance have helped him maintain the 50-pound weight loss he put his mind to accomplishing between enrollment and graduation.

“The discipline of showing up every day and holding yourself accountable for tasks that need to be completed bleeds success into all other areas,” Terry says. “I’m also better at managing relationships and family time. I’ve improved in every area of my life.”

Terry Brooks standing in his graduation cap and gown by a 2017 signAs his sister wrote in a letter given to him on his graduation day, “You have learned that it is not just educational dedication that gets you a degree ... it takes patience, determination, organization, motivation, and sheer willpower … Those things brought you the educational success you set out for, but what sets you apart ... were the accomplishments you achieved outside of the classroom. Not many people can say that they worked full time, exercised twice a day, and dieted their way through their upper division years. Your physical and spiritual wellness throughout your education makes you uniquely and undeniably prestigious. That glory is all your own.”

Learn more about the ASU Online bachelor degree in Communication.

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