Leadership Communique, 10/6/2013

Good morning,

Did you walk outside early on Saturday morning? The overnight showers were accompanied the first genuine blast of fall weather. The temperature on campus about 6AM was 46 degrees. Those UCO sweatshirts you may have on a shelf somewhere are finally going to be put to use. By Homecoming weekend in early November, we should see autumn colors across the UCO grounds.

This week David Cid offered you portraits of globally-lauded leaders and simple, clear reasons why each is revered. From Gandhi’s vision to Churchill’s relentless focus on success to Martin Luther King’s capacity to inspire actions here in the USA and around the world as well, David’s profiles in leadership create a challenging list of suggested attributes. An enduring aspect of leadership behavior is the discipline to focus. David counseled to “think deeply about your art and your profession”.

He quoted the maxim used by Malcolm Gladwell that success is rooted in passion, talent and the infamous 10,000 hours. He is lauding the power of persistence, patience and discipline. In his volume, The Outliers, Gladwell undertook extensive research among those who excelled in a variety of professions and endeavors. From champion European hockey teams to accomplished musicians, those who responded affirmed that 10,000 hours of diligent effort is the minimum to attain a level of accomplishment. The old New York comedy routine has more than a seed of truth when it quipped, “So, how do you get to Carnegie Hall?? Practice, practice, practice!”

He also emphasized that we don’t achieve success in isolation. There is a team, a posse, others, individually and collectively who during our lives serve as our mentors and collaborators as we strive to develop our abilities and capacities to learn, to lead and to serve. David Cid counsels us to give credit to those who have inspired and taught us, as often by example as by word.

This was another week of impasse in US domestic politics as the parties appear to be unable to find common ground. As the lack of consensus persists, concern mounts both domestically and internationally, increasing anxiety and a sense of instability. Within two weeks the Congress and President will face the existing controversy of raising of the debt in order to fund government operations. Those serving in federal leadership positions are facing tests of their abilities to lead in this moment of sobering challenge.

I have recently returned from a combined journey to China and South Korea. The mission had multiple purposes including visits with existing university partners in both countries, signing new agreements with a number of new institutions to encourage both faculty and students exchanges as well as promote UCO as a preferred educational destination in the USA. We also met with a spirited group of Korean UCO grads in Seoul with the intention of creating a UCO chapter in this highly developed country with a rich cultural history. I will share more with you later, but UCO’s global profile is attractive to international institutions, faculty and students alike. Enhancing our students’ global and cultural competencies is one of UCO’s key high impact practices in what we call “transformative learning” which places you at the center of your education.

Savor the fresh breeze out of the north today, a serious change in our weather pattern for the past several months.

Former US Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, years ago offered this perspective on one of the consequences of learning : “Man’s mind, stretched to a new idea, never returns to its original destination”.

May this week be filled with opportunities to to test Holmes’ assertion.

Take care,

Don Betz