Friday, November 11, 2011

present reality..future vision

This past week I attended the Council on Independent Colleges Conference for Chief Academic Officers and Chief Advancement Officers, having the chance to hear and learn from some very smart people who run what I call "top-notch" colleges and universities. Many of the people who presented came from schools who have a longe tradition (many over 100-150 years) of graduating students in a variety of liberal arts majors. Their alumni have seen success in a variety of vocations including business, medicine, engineering, government and the arts. In return, they have realized an amazing return in gifts from their alumni, often measuring the hundreds of millions of dollars during their campaigns. I listened with envy as they described what they are able to do as a result of these gifts and legacies...and I began to wonder why my institution is not able to do the same.

My first reaction was to be angry. What's wrong with us? Why can't we realize those same types of gifts? If we we had better people...if we had a better plan...if we weren't so insular...if we focused more...if we got outside our box...and the list continued. It became easy to blame and grouse and be incredibly frustrated. And then I had a mindshift...

I was relaying my experiences to a colleague and he looked at me, smiled, and said, "What you have just described is a picture of our future." I at first had a quizzical look on my face and then smiled with him as I realized that we were not stuck in our present reality - and that the future vision was already being realized. The reality is the my institution has been one who has graduated people in the past who went on to become pastors and teachers...we are a young institiution in graduating people who are going on to make the type of money who can endow professorships and build buildings...we are creating programs today that will see fruition tomorrow...we have a strong President who has laid a foundation for future success in this area...and we are graduating students who are making a name for Concordia throughout the greater Central Texas Region. We are a geat university that is beginning to realize its future today!

So for those of us who always wish things would be better (which is a part of a leader's DNA), here is my list of ways to keep from being frustrated with the present reality:

  1. know that as a leader you will be frustrated and should be frustrated...just don't dwell there for too long.

  2. keep hanging out with those institutions whom you whom you aspire to be like...they will provide fuel for your fire.

  3. put in place now the programs and people that will help you get to that future vision...and give them time to mature.

  4. find others who share in your future vision...and give them the space and the resources to create that vision in their unique way.

  5. enroll those outside the institution in your future vision...and get them to start supporting that vision today.

  6. understand that the present reality is never as bad as you think it to just looks that way because you have a different (better?) picture in your mind of what can be.

  7. get rid of that which is keeping the future vision from becoming a reality sooner rather than later...most of the time its people you may need to remove.

  8. never give up,,,never, never, never, never give up! (with regards to Winston Churchill)


Carrie said...

Thanks for the inspiration. Your first paragraph made me nervous but the "aha!" came quickly. Yes, Concordia has A LOT of potential and many of us see it. We have an amazing future, trust me.

Brian Becker said...

Healthy perspective on vision! Keep thinking big, Don.