Students in First Year Seminar (FYS) took part in a class this week on social excellence. Led by Matt Mattson of the Social Excellence Project, students learned about the value of their connections with others, and how these connections impact their college experience – and ultimately, their campus culture.
Defining social excellence simply as “something more than average,” Mattson said social excellence is about being generous, curious, authentic, and vulnerable in making connections with others. Mattson explained that making meaningful connections is a critical skill that must be practiced and that now, particularly following the COVID-19 pandemic, many people are simply out of practice.
Human interaction and connecting with others are more important now than ever before. Mattson said that practicing social excellence is not “teaching social skills.” Instead, social excellence is about being the “best version of oneself” and making the world a better place.
“Humans are social animals,” said Mattson. “From the moment we are born and throughout our lives, we are constantly and instinctively seeking one thing – human connection.” Our lives are filled with small meaningful interactions that can determine the quality of one’s day – or, in the case with students, even a college experience.
“Every moment is a chance to practice. Moments are opportunities for choices, and you have power over those choices,” Mattson suggested to the class. He said that every moment -- from interactions with the person seated next to them in class, how they greet others walking across campus, and the conversations they have standing in line at the dining hall -- are all moments when students have control. “You have control. You have power over the choices you make, in that space between you and other human beings, and the way you fill that space.” These choices also influence Reinhardt’s campus culture.
“The culture of Reinhardt University is entirely created by the way people on this campus fill space between themselves and others. The way you connect with each other, or not; the way you talk to each other, or not; the way you care about each other, listen to teach other, lean in on conversations; the time you go one level deeper in your conversations and connections, or not; all of these interactions create the culture in which you live. You create your culture. Create the culture you crave.”
Mattson is an entrepreneur, author, and speaker who helps college students build the campus cultures they crave. As co-creator of the Social Excellence Project, he provides guidance and direction to students on developing meaningful connections, growing organizations, and making significant impacts on the world.