Optimal Fraternity Experience

Cornerstones 2.0 reflects a rethinking of how we interact with the program.  Along with Cornerstones 2.0 comes a revised mission statement to guide our activities.

A mission statement answers the questions: “What do we do?” “For whom do we do it?” “What is the impact?”

The re-written Mission Statement of Cornerstones is:
To create & foster the optimal fraternity experience* for every individual member of Acacia Fraternity by providing an environment that promotes continual self-development, accountability to shared goals, and standards for personal conduct. The resulting outcome is graduating seniors who are able to articulate the positive impact of Acacia Fraternity in their lives, as well as their plans for staying involved as an alumni member.

* “Optimal Fraternity Experience 

The idea of the “optimal fraternity experience” is a combination of two ideas.

1. from a question that Darold Larson likes to ask undergraduates – “Are you having a good fraternity experience?”

  • Generally speaking, if you have a “good fraternity experience”, it is much more likely that you will stay involved as an alumni in some manner at some point.  This is what we’re going for.
  • If you have a “bad fraternity experience”, it is likely that you will not want to be involved as an alumni, and therefore might never get to fully realize the positive impact that the fraternity could have in your life.

2. from the book Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi.

In the book, optimal experience, or “flow” is defined as:

the state in which people are so involved in an activity that nothing else seems to matter; the experience itself is so enjoyable that people will do it even at great cost, for the sheer sake of doing it”.

“Flow” is also described in the book as being the same phenomenon as when athletes are “in the Zone”.

One of the characteristics of Flow is that you lose a sense of time passing – or in other words, you are so engaged in doing whatever you’re doing that a 2-hour timeframe seems to pass by in 20 minutes.

How Flow Theory Relates to Cornerstones & Your Goals / Ambitions / Objectives

The Cornerstones Personal Development Plan document is intended to help you define & refine your own ideas & beliefs about what is most important to you in your life.

This is the first substantive step recommended for any pledge or member (& even for alumni!)

This first step is so vital because ultimately it is best for you to be working towards goals or objectives that are personally meaningful to you.

Flow Theory

(description copied verbatim from Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Harper Perennial Modern Classics; 1ST edition – July 1, 2008)

The essential steps to get into Flow are:

  1. to set an overall goal, and as many  subgoals as are realistically feasible;
  2. to find ways of  measuring progress in terms of the goals chosen;
  3. to keep  concentrating on what one is doing, and to keep making  finer and finer distinctions in the challenges involved in the  activity;
  4. to develop the skills necessary to interact with  the opportunities available; and
  5. to keep raising the stakes  if the activity becomes boring (or if you reach your goal)

So What? 

Glad you asked.  The goal is to get to a place where every member of your chapter could answer positively to Brother Larson’s question: “Are you having a good fraternity experience?”  
There are, of course, a number of elements that contribute to the answer of this question – but I would humbly suggest that if every member of your chapter were to complete the Cornerstones Personal Development Plan, do all of the exercises within, every one would be that much closer to living their ideal life.  At the very least, each member would know what they are intending to do in their life.
The idea is that once you have completed your Cornerstones Personal Development Plan all you would need to do each semester is review your values, visionmission / purpose statment, strengths, then re-define your goals & action plans for the upcoming semester.

Questions for You – Leave a Comment

What do you think of this idea of “optimal fraternity experience?”   Is it attainable?  What would it take to attain it?