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