Perseverance and Killing Your Clone
As president of ACTC, I am very fortunate to work with excellent faculty and staff daily to help change the lives of our students. I know first-hand how ACTC can do that. After graduating from Boyd County High School in 1986, I came to Ashland Community College with no clear vision of what my future might be. At that time, I really did not have the desire to go to college but I promised my dad I would give it two years. Once there, I found amazing faculty and support that without I could have never made it. Academically I was prepared but it is not all about academics. It is about commitment and perseverance. I often share with students that I took the 5-year associate degree plan. That is right. It took me five years to earn my associate of arts degree. I had excuses as many students do. I was working two full time jobs, trying to support myself, and learning what it meant to be an adult. However, although I went at a snail’s pace toward the goal line, I never quit. Some semesters it was just one class but I did it. It was night classes long before online options were available. It was fitting in a class when my employers had rigid work schedules. It was going to the library to copy pages out of a textbook because I could not afford to buy my own. It was tough but it slowly grew to become something I not just enjoyed but I relished.
That first degree was a real hurdle but it convinced me that I was capable of more. From there I went on to earn bachelors, masters, and doctorate degrees. Professors like Tom Allemang, Bill Sadler, and J.B. Sowards were motivational to me. If it were not for Professor Rick Conley, I do not think I would have ever passed college algebra. They were always supporting me and sometimes pushing me to be and do better.
Author Regina Brett said, “No matter how you feel, get up, dress up and show up.” That is the essence of perseverance. Just never, quit. I would be lying if I said I set out with some grand, detailed plan to be a college president. I honestly never plotted or aspired to do what I do today. What I had and have is a constant desire to be a little better each day. Always seeking to learn more and to do more to support others toward their dreams.
Tom Kier, a master combatives instructor and subject matter expert on edged weapons for USSOCOM (The Unites States Special Operations Command), often speaks about a motivational mindset principle that can be applied to all aspects of life. Kier calls it ‘Kill Your Clone’ and it goes like this:
“Every night at midnight, you will meet a clone of yourself from 24 hours ago. You will fight your clone to the death. If you have done even one thing to be better than you were twenty-four hours ago, you will be victorious. What have you done to kill your clone today?”
Perseverance is Killing Your Clone. I do not expect my life’s path to be inspirational to anyone but I do know that an unwavering commitment to constant self-improvement and personal growth, be that through higher education or the school of hard knocks, is the road to a well lived and meaningful life.
Dr. Larry Ferguson is the President and CEO of Ashland Community & Technical College (ACTC). He has over 30 years of leadership experience in both the private sector and higher education. He has served in executive level leadership positions with responsibilities for academic affairs and resource development. He has also been engaged in workforce development for multiple industry sectors including manufacturing, financial services, information technology, and healthcare. Additionally, he has significant experience in economic development at both the local, state, and national levels. During his career, he has had the fortunate opportunity to serve as an instructor, college dean, vice-chancellor, college president, system vice-president and acting system chancellor.