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Hill Harper of 'The Good Doctor' encourages students to dream bigger

Actor, author keynotes Ivy Tech's annual 'Doing the Dream' program

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doing the dream

GOALS — Hill Harper speaks to students at the Kokomo Event & Conference Center last Friday.

A well-known actor spoke to high school and college students last week as part of Ivy Tech Community College’s “Doing the Dream” event, and he had a message for them: Dream bigger.

Last Friday, Hill Harper, an actor on ABC’S “The Good Doctor,” keynoted a student convocation and delivered a presentation titled “The Blueprint: Being an Active Architect of Your Own Life.” Harper laid out a plan that students can follow that's designed to help them build a fulfilling life, but he also encouraged them to expand their horizons.

“We’re all active architects of our own life, which means I believe that we are building and actively building the exact life we will create, just like an architect,” Harper said. “I want you to understand that as active architects of our own life, you actually have control over the life you can build.”

At the start of the event, Harper had everyone get out their cellphones and send an email to themselves that detailed their personal and professional goals and dreams. Then, he told students that in order to achieve those goals, they needed to create a blueprint. That blueprint, he said, will change as they get older.

Next, he said students needed to build a foundation for the structure they’re aiming to build. That foundation, in relation to their lives, will come from elements such as education, relationships, money and resources, health, and moral standing.

“We need to be solid in many of these areas to have the sustainability and longevity,” Harper said.

The third part that plays a role, he said, was the framework that supports the structure. That translates to, he said, the choices one makes.

“We always refer back to our blueprint to see if this choice meets the plans,” he said. “If I’m hanging out with some friends and they drinking, do I want to jump into a car if my blueprint says that I actually want to be alive and go to college? Do I make a choice to get into that car with someone who’s drunk?” he said. “No, easy choice because my blueprint doesn’t suggest that.”

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The final consideration, he said, was the door. He said once the students have their "structure" built, they will need to continuously let in "new people, new ideas, and new information." Part of a bigger issue, he said metaphorically, was that once people have their structure built, many don’t let in anything new.

“The vast majority of people circulate information between their small, insular circles,” he said. “Even online so-called like-minded people exchange information within this small silo, and they actually never start to grow. They don’t get new ideas, new information. They can’t be as creative as they want to be. They can’t actually be as dynamic. They don’t even know they might like something else because they’ve never been introduced to it.”

Harper encouraged students to be open to diversity and work toward modifying their blueprints as they develop new interests and new ideas by continuing to learn and grow.

He also circled back to a point he was making about goal-setting. He had the students go back to the email they sent to themselves about their goals and dreams, and he told them to double their goals.

They obliged. That, he said, proved that they weren’t dreaming big enough.

“I wanted to prove to you that there are conscious and subconscious forces that have already led you, even this early in your life, to suppress your goals and dreams,” Harper said. “The reason why I can say that is because when I asked you to do this exercise I said very specifically, ‘Write your personal and professional goals and dreams. Sky’s the limit. It could be anything.’ I said that five times minimum … and 45 minutes later, I said double it. I said, ‘Does anybody have a problem with that?’ Everybody’s like, ‘I can double.’

“What does that mean? It means it took somebody giving you permission to dream bigger … When you go home tonight to do your blueprint, you should triple that double and then actually probably double that triple because you’re not dreaming anywhere big enough. You’re not even close.”

Building a life around dreams that already are suppressed, he said, leads people to build blueprints around something that ultimately isn’t fulfilling.

Harper’s student convocation followed a public presentation held last Thursday where he addressed the topic of incarceration.