A week of challenge abroad and a welcome back to UCO

Good Sunday to all of you,

This past week we were relieved to have Jarrett back with us for a few hours each day. As you likely know, he is faring much better, and we are all looking to a complete recovery. His leadership and devotion to the UCO leadership programs is one of the reasons why they are highly regarded and effective. If you have not already done so, reach out and welcome him back to Leadership Central and UCO, quite literally his home away from home.

On Tuesday we are pleased to welcome David Woods to Lessons. David is a highly successful executive and entrepreneur who uses his many gifts and talents to promote and advance ethical leadership in the marketplace and in society. He is a past president of the statewide network, Leadership Oklahoma, and one of the prime forces steering Giant Partners to national relevance and prominence. Among other issues, David is donating his time and talent to address an essential leadership skill, networking. Our intent is to invite David to return and interact on other issues that can directly enhance your leadership skills. David is eager to meet each of you.

This week has been one of tragedy and trial for the US in the Middle East and beyond as demonstrations ignited by an on line video denigrating Islam turned violent. For the first time since 1979, a US Ambassador was killed. In Benghazi, Libya, veteran and highly regarded Ambassador Chris Stevens died in the US Consulate there. Demonstrations have spread to many other countries over three days. While there appears to be a calming at this time, the underlying issues facing this region which is experiencing major change continue without resolution.

After the initiation of the uprisings beginning in Tunisia about 18 months ago, long- standing autocratic governments have been displaced in some countries with fragile systems not tested or fully underway. This is new political and civic territory for the people of Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen, and Libya. The verdict in Syria, perhaps the most consequential struggle thus far in this transition, is still underway with mounting civilian casualties, multiple factions in the country contending for power and an international community unable to reach a consensus on common action.

We are in the early stages of an historic shift with a number of possible outcomes. We are watching a new political order being forged in the cauldron of change. The United States has both interests and influence in the area and among these people as do other countries, both nearby and far away.

What is enlightening for me are comments Ambassador Stevens made recently to a colleague about the future of Libya and it’s people. He was highly regarded by the national transitional council that resisted and eventually overthrew Muammar Gaddafi after 42 years of autocratic rule. Stevens understood the fragility of the first attempt to create a new society, constitution and a sense of nationhood. He pressed Washington to let the newly empowered people to take the lead in reclaiming control of their lives. He was in Benghazi to open the first “American Space” in Libya, a learning center that is owned, operated and staffed by “our Libyan partners” as he said. He believed such a partnership would inspire increasingly strong connection between Libyans and Americans. Amb. Stevens was highly regarded by the new Libyan leadership and the people. His legacy there and I the US State Department will not soon be forgotten.

So as you hear dozens of voices claiming expert knowledge of what is happening in the Middle East, recall the example of Amb Stevens who accepted the post after working in Libya during their struggle for freedom. He was effective because he was honest and he earned the trust of those on the ground during the months of conflict. It is said that he always saw the potential over the peril.

I wish you a week of opportunity and productivity. Each day you are writing your own unique story.

We believe in you.

Best wishes,

Don Betz