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Groundhog Day: The Inspiration to Make Life Different

Groundhog Day: The Inspiration to Make Life Different

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In my youth, Groundhog Day seemed like one of those odd curiosities – a holiday with no general reason for being other than to perk us up in hopes that spring weather and outside sports activities would soon be here. As an adult, it became one of those holidays that no one celebrates and no employer includes in paid time off benefits for their employees.

Perhaps it was the 1993 movie “Groundhog Day,” starring Bill Murray and Andi MacDowell, that changed my attitude. In the movie, Bill Murray is a Pittsburgh TV weatherman sent out to cover the annual ceremony in Punxatawney, Pennsylvania, where Phil, the groundhog, is brought out from his den and presented to the gathered crowd.

Bill’s ho-hum day covering the event is repeated every morning thereafter when he wakes up in the same bed and breakfast in Punxatawney where he woke up the day before. The cycle doesn’t end until Bill (Phil in the movie) has mastered the art of being the perfect human and maximizing the perfect day.

Reporter Natalie Finn writes that the movie spawned a whole state of mind “where a day that feels like yesterday or a rut that you can’t get out of is commonly referred to as being like Groundhog Day.”

That may be the case for a generation or two of movie fans, but for a number of years since that movie, I’ve taken the opposite approach. I have never been a fan of winter. I don’t like short days and cold weather. Groundhog Day is a day where I make sure I don’t do the same thing that I’ve been doing recently.

Why? Because we don’t have an unlimited number of days to “get it right” like Phil Connors.

I think I’ve done a fairly good job over many years of planning for the long run. Much too often, though, I have found myself falling into a routine of doing the same things, day after day.

Whenever I do that, I try to break the routine. Call it embracing lifelong learning, call it embracing life, call it embracing friends and relatives, call it embracing doing something different to have a different experience and a different memory. Call it whatever you want to call it; even call it Groundhog Day.

Groundhog Day is the tickler in my calendar for doing something different that does not have to be notated. And because I’m a planner, I scheduled lunch and coffee (social distancing) this week with two former associates whom I haven’t seen in a while.

Last week, I read about the rise of Mardi Gras “house floats” to stand in as safe replacements for the annual Mardi Gras parades that have been cancelled this year. Despite never having decorated any of my houses for Mardi Gras (and not having lived in New Orleans since 1978), I joined the Krewe of House Floats on Facebook today.

I’m also working on a few house decorations for my house in Austin, Texas, even though Fat Tuesday is two weeks away on February 16. I scheduled a series of podcast tapings and am working on my first ever vlogcast.

Embrace your inner change agent! Do something different! Don’t hibernate like the groundhog who has seen his shadow!

In a year that has forced us all to hunker down and limit our activities, we need to find a break in the clouds. Good luck!

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Wally Boston Dr. Wallace E. Boston was appointed President and Chief Executive Officer of American Public University System (APUS) and its parent company, American Public Education, Inc. (APEI) in July 2004. He joined APUS as its Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer in 2002. In September 2019, Dr. Boston retired as CEO of APEI and retired as APUS President in August 2020. Dr. Boston guided APUS through its successful initial accreditation with the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association in 2006 and ten-year reaccreditation in 2011. In November 2007, he led APEI to an initial public offering on the NASDAQ Exchange. For four years from 2009 through 2012, APEI was ranked in Forbes' Top 10 list of America's Best Small Public Companies. During his tenure as president, APUS grew to over 85,000 students, 200 degree and certificate programs, and approximately 100,000 alumni. While serving as APEI CEO and APUS President, Dr. Boston was a board member of APEI, APUS, Hondros College of Nursing, and Fidelis, Inc. Dr. Boston continues to serve as a member of the Board of Advisors of the National Institute for Learning Outcomes Assessment (NILOA), a member of the Board of Overseers of the University of Pennsylvania’s Graduate School of Education, and as a member of the board of New Horizons Worldwide. He has authored and co-authored papers on the topic of online post-secondary student retention, and is a frequent speaker on the impact of technology on higher education. Dr. Boston is a past Treasurer of the Board of Trustees of the McDonogh School, a private K-12 school in Baltimore. In his career prior to APEI and APUS, Dr. Boston served as either CFO, COO, or CEO of Meridian Healthcare, Manor Healthcare, Neighborcare Pharmacies, and Sun Healthcare Group. Dr. Boston is a Certified Public Accountant, Certified Management Accountant, and Chartered Global Management Accountant. He earned an A.B. degree in History from Duke University, an MBA in Marketing and Accounting from Tulane University’s Freeman School of Business Administration, and a Doctorate in Higher Education Management from the University of Pennsylvania’s Graduate School of Education. In 2008, the Board of Trustees of APUS awarded him a Doctorate in Business Administration, honoris causa, and, in April 2017, also bestowed him with the title President Emeritus. In August 2020, the Board of Trustees of APUS appointed him Trustee Emeritus. In November 2020, the Board of Trustees announced that the APUS School of Business would be renamed the Dr. Wallace E Boston School of Business in recognition of Dr. Boston's service to the university. Dr. Boston lives with his family in Austin, Texas.

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