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Julie Lythcott-Haims with high school students

Shelton’s Leaders for Life program continued this spring with a scintillating presentation by best-selling author Julie Lythcott-Haims.  Ms. Lythcott-Haims visited Shelton’s campus April 12th and spoke with the entire Upper School body on the topic Throw Out the Checklisted Childhood.  The speaking opportunity was made possible through funding by Alliance Data and through the author’s connection with Shelton parent Debbie Mitchell, a former college classmate.

The New York Times best-selling author, who currently resides in Silicon Valley, spoke to Shelton students about countering the environment where grades and scores and other external and even fake indicastors of achievement appear to be the primary measures of a human’s worth. Julie took the audience through an alternative set of goals, all of which enhance the path to real success:

1)    Be kind.
2)    Try hard.
3)    Learn to think and do for yourself
4)    Widen your blinders.  Open your mind to other possibilities. Have a wider mindset about colleges.  Does the plan / place FIT you, and do you get a sense of BELONGING there?
5)    Study what you love. Have the courage to do what you love.

Julie shared tales from her own upbringing, education, marriage, parenting and career.  The real or perceived expectations of a Stanford and Harvard graduate – some self-imposed – weighed heavily on Julie at one point in her life, and she shared candidly about coming to personal terms regarding external vs. intrinsic rewards for her career.  Several Shelton seniors, themselves involved in deliberation concerning colleges, asked pointed questions, and Julie answered with tactics of measuring the trade-offs of various options.

Julie’s take-home to students:  “This is your one, precious life.  You don’t need a career that brings ALL the money; you just need ENOUGH money. Don’t just do what you’re good at – do what you love.”

The author’s book, How to Raise an Adult: Break Free of the Overparenting Trap and Prepare Your Kid for Success, is a current hit with many parents.  Her next book will concern race.   

“What a great opportunity for our students,” said Shelton Executive Director Suzanne Stell.  “Julie was a real inspiration – she offered sage advice on how to get comfortable with those dimensions that will fulfill for a lifetime.”

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