Sunday, October 6, 2013

presidential advice at two years


I observed my two-year anniversary as president here at SCC last week while at a conference in Seattle with trustees.  When I remarked over breakfast to one of our trustees that the day marked my 2nd anniversary at the helm his response, with a smile, was “eight more years.”  While challenged to think that far ahead, I remember thinking that it could have been worse.  He could have said “time’s up.”

On my return flight, amid stunning and breathtaking views from the plane - this one above of Great Salt Lake at sunset - I gave a lot of thought to the past two years - about what has worked and what needs work, about our collective work and how we measure how well we are doing it, and about my role in helping us to be the best that we can be.  Like bearing witness to sights like this one, I determined that serving as president ought to be, first and foremost, a humbling experience and one done with gratitude and grace in the face of things much larger than one's self.

One of the keys to any job, I reminded myself, is to always remember that you have not perfected your performance in it – that there is always room to become better at what you do.  Another is to remember that your job, while perhaps more visible and higher on the organizational chart, is in many ways no more important than any other job performed by those around you.  A third is to always remember that one can do nothing alone.
I recall reading the list below of self-authored presidential advice at a faculty meeting several months ago.  It seems fitting to return to it now as a reminder.  It is not all inclusive, of course, but still, for me, words to live by.  Enjoy.

Presidential Advice:

- The first year doesn’t last forever, nor does the honeymoon – eventually you discover the challenges and need to meet them.

- The second year is harder than the first year.

- Don’t expect it to be easy; if it was the last person wouldn’t have left.

- Don’t blame the past; that kind of leadership sucks morale and does not inspire confidence.

- Remember that this institution existed before you and will exist after you are gone; your job is to do the best that you can and to give it everything you have while you are here.

- Don’t invest too much ego in being right or popular, or in believing that you have all of the answers.

- Don’t call it broken so that you can fix it.

- Don’t make people angry on purpose.

- Do recognize and thank people on purpose, and often.

- Trust those around you; to the extent that solutions and changes are sought, these can only be achieved with the support and involvement of those affected.

- Focus on strength and opportunity, not challenge – or not only challenge.

- Celebrate success, but don’t rest there.

- Keep at it until you get it right.

I have deeply enjoyed my two years as a member of this extraordinary working and learning community.  We should be proud of all that we are capable of and all that we can accomplish together.  Like a mountain rising through the clouds.





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