Manifesting Your Dreams

Man standing at a St. John's University podium
By Dr. Sharod L. Tomlinson’21Ed.D.

How I manifest my dreams as a certified Strengths Coach and Associate Dean of Student Success and Engagement at St. John’s University.

“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”—Philippians 4:13

Growing up, this scripture in the book of Philippians has always been one of my favorites. From this teaching of Paul, I realized that nothing I want to accomplish in life is impossible. No matter what situation I find myself in along this life’s journey, I am anchored in the fact that God will give me the strength to make it through.

As a young man growing up in Queens, NY, I would often hear that I had to have a plan for what I wanted to do in life. When I realized that becoming a professional athlete was not likely to happen for me, I began to wonder what my plan B would be.

During my reflection, I realized that I often found myself in leadership positions within sports and school settings. I used to wonder why, but as I got into high school, I realized that my purpose and calling in life was to be a leader and help others maximize their potential. My coaches, teachers, and peers trusted me no matter the task.

For me to be successful in life, I realized that I had to have a G.P.A. that expanded outside of the classroom: GRIT, PLAN, and ACCOUNTABILITY. 

Possessing Grit

Grit is defined as “perseverance and passion for long-term goals.” It involves working strenuously to ward off challenges and maintaining effort and interest over years despite failure, adversity, and plateaus in progress. The gritty individual approaches achievement as a marathon; his or her advantage is stamina. While disappointment or boredom may lead most people to change trajectory, the gritty individual stays the course” (Duckworth et al., 2007).

We all can identify people in our lives who have big ideas and much enthusiasm for many projects, only to drop them within a few weeks. Individuals with a lot of grit tend to set very long-term objectives and not lose sight of them—even when they do not get positive feedback.

Having grit means that you choose to invest time and energy in a particular endeavor and give up many other things to pursue this passion.

Finding Mentorship

A mentor’s ability to connect their mentees with resources to succeed personally and professionally is invaluable. Throughout my life, I have been fortunate to have mentors who have helped me be where I am right now.

Michael A. Baston, Ed.D., the current President and CEO at Cuyahoga Community College, gave me an opportunity to work in higher education. Under his leadership, I learned so much about higher education and the important role that student affairs play in the lives of the students that we serve. In addition, I received invites to networking events that allowed me to build relationships with leaders within education from across the country. These opportunities made me realize that representations, access, and exposure matter.

A Supportive, Inclusive Network

Having a supportive network that remains engaged in a positive mentoring relationship is a valuable resource. The experience of the real world is brought to the classroom when there is ethnic and racial diversity, acceptance of the differences of all, and the challenge of traditions and biases, which ultimately lead to strengthening the ability of people from all walks of life to work together (Tram et al., 2020). The ability to bring together individuals from various ethnic and racial backgrounds leads to new knowledge, perspectives, and insight that contribute to inspired and applicable solutions to existing problems. When communities have ethnic and racial representation, individuals are more likely to be successful.

Driven by these three key factors, I became a certified Strengths Coach in 2017. Through the training, I learned how to utilize others’ talents and coach individuals to clearly understand their purpose in life.

Since becoming a certified Strengths Coach, I have incorporated the coaching practices of Gallup and the DeVos Urban Leadership Initiative Breakthrough Plan process into my work with St. John’s University students as the Associate Dean of Student Success and Engagement and Executive Director of the R.I.S.E Network.

Manifesting your dream(s) is about more than just you, the individual—it is about how we can continue to grow as a community and support others.

“What you think, you become. What you feel, you attract. What you imagine, you create.”

Dr. Sharod L. Tomlinson’21Ed.D.

Dr. Tomlinson is a Gallup-certified Strengths Coach. He also currently serves as Associate Dean of Student Success and Engagement at St. John’s University in Queens, NY, and is the Executive Director of the St. John’s University R.I.S.E. Network, a scholar’s empowerment network that provides Black and Latinx first-year students and sophomores with skill-based development, support, and opportunities to enhance their overall academic career.

Dr. Tomlinson has completed his doctoral degree in Administration and Instructional Leadership at St. John’s University. He earned his master’s degree at New School University, majoring in Non-Profit Management, and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Public Administration at John Jay College of Criminal Justice.