Lessons in Leadership – Fall 2013

Good Sunday to each of you.

Welcome to Lessons in Leadership.

I hope that this message finds you in excellent spirits.  This is an extended holiday weekend here in the USA originally intended to honor America’s workers with the day off.

Each week during this semester I will offer some comments in this space.  It may be a reflection on the week’s guest presentation, or perhaps a set of issues before us which merits our group consideration.  There will be connections to leadership and, hopefully, to you.

On Tuesday we will officially launch the “L in L” series of speakers and interactions among  PLC and LOT members, their mentors and those from the UCO community and outside the university who choose to join us.  However, the focus of the program is you and your continuing development as emerging leaders.  The approach will be both theoretical and practical and intended to cultivate your understanding and exercise of the art of leadership.  Dr. Jarrett Jobe will guide and mentor the process.

Over the coming weeks a series of exceptional people from our region have generously consented to spend time with you.  They are energized by the prospect of connecting with you who they see as successors to follow them into positions of responsibility and decision-making. They know that the future of a community, state, country or globe is directly influenced and contoured by the quality of its leaders. One of our goals is to intentionally grow the leadership pool in Oklahoma and beyond

At UCO, we speak often about creating a culture of learning, leading and serving.  For us, these are not idle words intended for a brochure or a commentary.  We are intentional in our continuing efforts to prepare our students for success as life-long learners, and as leaders who serve and servers who lead.

We also believe that imagination, creativity and leadership are indispensable ingredients for personal and community success.  That success pivots on a common vision and a degree of collaboration beyond what is usually expected.

These attributes are essential to successfully navigate the breadth and depth of change that is imbedded in the fabric of our lives and our society. Change is one of the distinguishing characteristics of our contemporary world.  And there is scant indication that the breakneck pace of change is about to subside any time soon.  This is our milieu, our environment, our world.  As citizens, community members and leaders, we prepare to meet the challenges and nurture of opportunities that change offers every day.

And we learn to do this together.  One of the clear lessons of this time and leading into the future is the power of “we”.  Genuine collaboration opens options and possibilities undiscovered by the lone seeker.  The scope and possibilities are amplified when we find common ground and step up, together.  Perhaps this collective sense of connection and persistence was demonstrated for some of you last week when America remembered across the last half century to the March on Washington and Martin Luther King Jr’s “I Have a Dream” address at the Lincoln Memorial.  It was a defining moment in the evolution of our country as it continues to pursue the founders’ ideals and vision.  As has been often said, we are seeking a more perfect union.  And we do so together.

I am eager to meet you and to learn more about your aspirations as a valued member of the community, from local to global. As Dr. King so prophetically reminded us, “we are all tied in a single garment of destiny.”

And we have clear obligations toward one another.  One is to develop our capacities to learn, lead and serve.  Another is to take care of each other.  One of the ways leaders do so is by responding to the call of service.

Jeffrey Sachs in his latest volume, To Move the World, encourages us not to fear change, but rather to embrace it.  “Let’s embrace and harness the winds of change, together, for all the right reasons”.  In this book about President John Kennedy and the process he and others created to achieve a partial ban on nuclear weapons testing during some of the dark days of the Cold War.  Sachs said the stakes were high in 1963 due to the awesome power of these weapons.

“At such a hinge of history, individual can make a vast difference”, Sachs writes.  “Now it is out turn.  We know that the tasks are large, but so are the past acts of leadership that inspire us and encourage us on our way.”

Leaders, he counsels, are not gripped by forces beyond their control.  ‘We too can be as big as we want.  We too can stand and move the world”.

And so, we believe, each of you will in your unique manner and time.

We are here to help cultivate the best “you”, so that together we might create the best “we” to lead and serve now and into the future.

Enjoy these final holidays of the summer season.

Don Betz