North Central College alumna Kathy Guthrie gives TEDx talk on “Finding Personal Greatness”

Feb 27, 2015

North Central College alumna Kathy L. Guy ’98 Guthrie delivered a TEDx talk encouraging individuals to overcome fear and complacency to find their personal greatness.

Guthrie was one of 12 presenters Feb. 13 at the inaugural TEDxNorthCentralCollege event. Topics were inspired by the theme “Changing the World for Good.” The message of her talk titled, “Finding Personal Greatness,” was that people can change the world if they start with making a difference one person at a time.

“When I think about what a daunting task it would be to change the entire world and leave my mark I stop in my tracks,” she said. “However, when I shift my framework from a world that’s seven billion-plus people to the world of one person’s reality, it makes it a little bit more manageable.”

Guthrie is an associate professor in the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies at Florida State University. She cofounded the journal “New Directions in Student Leadership,” which has published her work and the research of others. In her TEDx talk she said people tend to fall short in finding their personal greatness because they get caught up in routines and going through the motions.

“Complacency sneaks up on us. All of a sudden it’s there,” she said. “How many of us have driven to work or walked to class and thought, ‘How did I get here?’”

Guthrie earned a Ph.D. in higher education organization and leadership from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and holds a master’s degree in Educational Administration and Foundations—College Student Personnel Administration from Illinois State University. She holds a bachelor of arts from North Central College, where she majored in business administration with minors in organizational leadership and speech communication.

When people start to consider what aspects of life they may be missing, they can overcome their complacency and fear and work toward achieving personal greatness, Guthrie said.

“If we’re in a place where our personal greatness shines it’s like a ripple effect—then you’re starting to make a difference,” she said. “If we can get past that fear, past going through the motions, we can find our personal greatness. Greatness is inside each and every one of us. The world needs us to find our greatness and our best selves, because we have a lot of world to change. Whether it’s one person, or seven-plus billion, the world needs us.”

TED is a nonprofit devoted to spreading ideas, usually in the form of short, powerful talks. TED began in 1984 as a conference where Technology, Entertainment and Design converged, and today covers topics ranging from science to business to global issues. Independently run TEDx events help share ideas in communities around the world.