The Importance of Being Learned
August signals back to school advertisements, commercials and coupons galore reminding students nationwide that soon they will head back to their respective halls of learning. Many of you know I am a student myself, not just metaphorically, but literally as well. Three years ago this month, I began the process of earning my doctorate degree in leadership through Lancaster Bible College. I wanted to provide a brief update on where I am in this process to my tremendous tribe who has supported me with prayers, positivity, and endless words of encouragement and inspiration.

A doctoral program is a unique experience. After the completion of required coursework, there are three milestones you must meet and accomplish. The first one is Comps, short for comprehensives. This is a capstone course where the student pulls what they've learned and written from the previous three years directed toward your future research topic. The student must defend these papers which are to be of publishable quality, showing their peers they are conversant in the core topics and can evaluate, synthesize and analyze the leadership literature.

The second milestone is the submission of a Prospectus, which outlines your proposed area of study. A Prospectus is comprised of your research problem, a robust review of the recent relevant literature, research questions, and your proposed methodology. The student must also defend this submission to a team of dedicated readers. The third milestone is the submission of your dissertation where you gather the research and complete your final chapters which contain your findings and how you created that one little nugget of knowledge that adds to the intellectual index of humanity. You must also defend your dissertation before a board who then sign off on your work and then people get to call you Doctor!

Roughly 50% of doctoral students who begin their studies don’t finish. They refer to this calamity as ABD, which stands for All But the Dissertation. The phrase, "Close, but no cigar" holds true for terminal degrees as well. I am confident in crossing the finish line, and here’s why.

I chose a school with which I had a strong value congruence. Leadership is genuinely about character and inner terrain. If you aren't approaching this acquisition with a shared worldview, there are going to be problems. My institution of higher learning has constructed their doctoral program so that along the way my cohorts and I have been peeling back the layers on what is the one big question in leadership we’d love to see answered. I have the most robust and tremendous tribe in the universe. I also have the shoulders of the greats that have gone on before me who have given me the opportunity. I will not let them down. I have selected a first and second reader who know me, believe in me, and will make sure that my work is reliable and valuable. My dissertation topic is my favorite thing in the world to talk about (even more so than rescue dogs): the role of followership in the transformational leadership-crisis equation.

My Comps are submitted, and I am scheduled to defend the first week of September. My Prospectus first draft is due this week, and my goal is to defend in October. Then it's off to the research races this fall and winter, so I can begin gathering data and processing my findings.

One last massive bit of information, Dr. Ken Blanchard agreed to be my second reader. I cannot tell you what a joy and blessing this is. I have studied and read Dr. Blanchard's work on Situational Leadership for years. Dr. Blanchard knew and loved my father. They were personal and professional colleagues. We even had the privilege of publishing two of Dr. Blanchard's books here at Tremendous Leadership.

That's the latest and the greatest! If you are considering going back to school, may I tell you how it changed my life and how it will change yours? After 30 years of leading others, I thought I pretty much knew most of what was out there. Boy, was I wrong. I can now approach the covenant of leadership with the street smarts of a practitioner and the books smarts of a scholar. That is indeed a blend of two tremendous worlds!

The other thing about going back to school is, you get to read and write! Guess where the material for my next book due out in October is originating? It's coming from my first comp paper on self-efficacy. As adults, we get to blend our learning desires into powerful catalysts for our professional and personal lives. So, if you are thinking about going back to school this fall, do it!  Hope to see you in class!



AbdBack to schoolBob burgComprehensivesCompsDissertationDissertation topicDoctorDoctorateEducationFollowershipHigher educationKen blanchardLancaster bible collegeLeadershipLearningPhdProspectusReadingSchoolSchoolingSelf-efficacySeptemberTransformational leadership

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