Month: October 2013

Week 9 Presentation – Dan Boren

Dan Boren shared his thoughts and perspective on numerous items to include the following:
• Day in the life of a Congressman
• Public service is about helping people
• You can’t please everyone
• Funding for Higher Education and Secondary Education in Oklahoma
• Campaign Finance Reform
• Immigration
• Political divide amongst parties
• Story of killing Bin Laden
• Family life and public service demands

Share your initial thoughts and reactions on any of the themes he shared with the class.

Leadership Communique, 10/27/2013

Good Sunday to each of you.

Another week of the Fall semester has evaporated as we move deeper into the academic term.

Halloween this week to be followed in rapid succession by the Thanksgiving holiday, final exams and term projects due, and, suddenly, it is Fall Commencement. Activities and deadlines will escalate over the next few weeks.

It is sound counsel, however, for you to keep your ” eyes on the prize”, hold fast to your priorities and successfully complete the term. A dimension of that success is “life in balance”, often easier to suggest than to actually achieve, especially when the demands of deadlines approach. Planning and preparation in advance are reliable allies when multiple responsibilities begin to crowd your agendas.

This is Homecoming Week at UCO when alumni and current students celebrate the legacy, creativity and energy of this historic university. Amidst the other opportunities during these days, I encourage you to participate in some of the many events packed into these few days.

I am certain that some of you are connecting with friends in your organizations to be part of the “Cheer and Dance” competition on Friday evening, November 1st. This has been a “must attend” program for years. I am sure I will see many of you that night. The next morning we will all gather for the Homecoming Parade, this year with a record number of entries. The tailgate party is at noon and the football game follows at 2PM. Throughout the week, we will celebrate “There’s No Place Like Central”.

This week, Lessons in Leadership is pleased to welcome Dan Boren as our guest leader. This is a young, accomplished Oklahoma public servant you will want to hear and meet. Dan has served with distinction as a member of the US House of Representatives for the 2nd District of Oklahoma which includes most of eastern Oklahoma from Kansas to Texas east of Tulsa. During my tenure at Northeastern State University, I had the opportunity to work with him on initiatives relevant to the people of our state. His record of public service and his perspective of the vital role of leaders at both the local and national levels are admirable and will enrich the few minutes we will have him with us on Tuesday. I urge you to learn about his work in Congress and his current emerging leadership role with the Chickasaw Nation and economic development. Dan Boren will be a continuing, leading figure in Oklahoma for years to come.

When you find these comments on the blog site, there should also be access to articles and comments I place on Twitter. Today I will post a link to a fascinating piece that appeared in the November 2013 issue of The Atlantic.

James Fallows, an award-winning writer, surveyed leading scientists, historians and other to create a list of the defining invention and discoveries since pre-history. The result is “The 50 Greatest Breakthroughs Since The Wheel”. In his subtitle comments, Fallows offers this framework. “Why did it take so long to invent the wheelbarrow? Have we hit peak innovation? What our list reveals about imagination, optimism, and the nature of progress”?

What follows is an informative and stimulating sequence of humanity’s technological progress with linkage from one discovery to another. By offering the list in reverse order, from 50 to 1, Fallow invites you to make your own list and sequencing.

We know that imagination, creativity and innovation have strong links to leadership development. I encourage you to take a few moments and review this article.

There will a many public events this Homecoming week and I look forward to seeing you throughout the coming days.

A thought for today is from Socrates: “Wisdom begins in wonder.”

Take care,

Don Betz

Week 8 Presentation – Bill Curry Video Presentation

I hope you enjoyed Bill Curry’s presentation as much as I do every time I hear it. His comments on the “fellowship of the miserable”, “the pain of discipline or the pain of regret” and “being comfortable in your own skin” are important tenants for all of us to consider in our daily leadership journey. Provide your thoughts on either his thoughts as a whole, or a singular piece that has resonated with you.

Leadership Communique, 10/20/2013

It is Sunday, and we are reaching for our UCO sweatshirts this morning. The young maple tree in our yard has begun its transition toward winter as its leaves move from green to shades of light red and burnt orange. Given the wide variety of plantings across the campus, we will see the full spectrum of autumnal colors at UCO in the coming weeks.

Here in the USA, this past week saw the country move away from political deadlines and financial cliffs as last minute, temporary compromises in Congress produced legislation that re-opened the federal government and authorized the country to raise its debt limit and thereby meet its immediate financial obligations.

But anyone seeking lasting relief from the contentious issues that have divided the nation must wait for another day. The current “fix” has been characterized as “kicking the can down the road”. There was no resolution of the outstanding issues because there is no consensus on priorities or direction. It should be noted that the impasse and the continuing absence of basic consensus is being perceived outside the USA in less than favorable ways. Given the interconnected nature of our planet, there are few issues and decisions that do not have multiple global consequences. We are inextricably interconnected in countless ways to the world physically beyond our borders.

Martha Burger is a highly respected UCO alum who shared her experience and insights with us. She focused on key leadership concepts, developed them with cogent examples and left us with a “quotable quotation” to exemplify each precept. I believe that Martha exemplifies the very characteristics she highlighted. Authenticity, vision, strategy, communication, legacy and other leadership ideals were among her litany of preferred traits. Martha was adept at linking concept with application. She also offered pragmatic advice relevant to securing and keeping a professional position.

I found her four-part response to preparing for success highly useful. She advised to volunteer, over-deliver, present solutions and pay it forward. In the end, how you demonstrate what you know, how you learn, how you collaborate and that you are trustworthy clearly positions you for optimal possibilities.

Never underestimate the power of persistence linked to talent, initiative, passion and a sense of purpose. As you know, we often link the discussion on growing leaders to public service and civic engagement. These are community and society-building initiatives that can change lives and transform states.

For your community, for the state, the country and beyond, you become a vital actor in the growth and change of society. Human talent is our true sustainable asset which will guide us in successfully addressing the unending list of opportunities and challenges that will define our current and future circumstance. This is one of the reasons why we at UCO place a focused emphasis on the intentional encouragement and development of leaders. To care for this place, be it local or global, your neighborhood or the planet, authentic, visionary caring leaders are needed. To encourage you in your development is why we gather together in PLC, LOT and Lessons in Leadership.

Make a small difference in a big way this week.

Take care,

Don Betz

Week 7 Presentation – Martha Burger

Martha discussed four things that you can begin to practice to enhance your leadership and personal capacity. Choose one of these items and discuss why you feel this stands out in your opinion.

Leadership Communique, 10/13/2013

Good morning.

It is Fall Break Sunday and I trust that you have made the most of this extended weekend to enjoy some of your favorite interests.

I know that among you are volunteers who participated in the “Alternative Spring Break” rehab work in Shawnee and other locations with Jarrett. I hope that the time and energy you spent assisting in various ways was as meaningful for you as I am sure it was helpful for those who you assisted.

It is in those moments that theory meets reality. Participating in such worthy work together, as a group, often builds new bonds among you and you learn about one another and the power of collaboration. I know that many of you are seasoned veterans of volunteer work from your high school days, and these purposeful projects should reinforce your resolve of why you undertake such work in the first place.

There has been little movement this past week in breaking the Washington DC impasse. With the partial federal government shutdown now into its second week and the rapid approach of the limit on government borrowing which funds government spending, both Congress and the President are approaching a rare moment in America’s political history. While the government was brought to a halt briefly in 1995, the combination of the layoffs of federal government employees and the halting of certain government services simultaneously due to the inability to borrow, is unusual with some analysts contending that it is unprecedented.

Blame and finger-pointing must be replaced soon by collaboration and bi-partisanship for the well-being of the country, including America’s international reputation. Democracies have always been characterized as fragile systems because they rest on a foundation of consultation, compromise and the willingness to accept an outcome that does not meet 100% of any individual or group’s list of aspirations. Our unique political system rests on the three branches of government acting as separate institutions sharing power and that partisan interests are brokered to address the “common good”. It may be safe to say that now that there is not a shared sense of what that public good actually is among two of the branches and the political parties.

These are difficult circumstances that call upon the best in us to see beyond our own interests. It is the moment for leadership and statesmanship to prevail over more narrow measures of “winning and losing”. There are examples and lessons in leadership, or its absence, all around us.

We are truly pleased to welcome Martha Burger to the Lessons session this week. Martha has risen to the highest level of leadership in her profession and has worthwhile professional and personal lessons to share with us. She is a UCO alum and a highly appreciated supporter of the university including serving over the past few years as the co-chair of UCO’s highly successful “Always Central” fundraising campaign. She can speak to us about the pathways to success in corporate America and about her leadership experience. She is engaging by nature, so I encourage you to be ready with questions for her either during the dialogue with her or individually just after the session.

A thought to consider this week is anonymously attributed. ” When all the choices are bad, leadership emerges.” There are those moments in life when circumstances call out to someone, to you perhaps, to step up and help clarify whatever impasse may appear as insoluble. Such leadership is, by definition, selfless, and may be effective only in that instance, and at that time. But, at that moment, it becomes a critical factor for success.

Tomorrow is Columbus Day, an official remembrance of the man who for generations was credited with the European discovery of the New World. We now know he was a vital player in the opening of the Americas to European colonization, but not the first to walk on Western Hemisphere shores.

Learning and the search for knowledge, understanding and truth continues.

I wish you a marvelous week and continuing success.

Don Betz