Go and Do

As the world is continually made smaller through social media, I find some of us are lulled into thinking we “know” people and things because we read a post about it. Or that we are somehow worldly because we have a few friends in international places. My challenge for you is to go further in 2017. Do not hide in your own neighborhoods, with your own friends. I can think of no more important message than this: go places, and do things.

This is the way the world can be made safer – this is how we begin to dismantle hate and bias. No class or workshop will fully teach you how to value others – only your relationship with others can do that. Despite what you may hear from the highest political leaders in our land, the path to peace and happiness is through embracing differences, not hiding from them or sending them away. Here are some tips to get started and get the most out of your “going and doing”:

  1. Locate a place that is “culturally” different from you (e.g., another part of town, another city/state/country, a place of worship where no one talks or looks like you, etc.). Notice these don’t require a lot of money to do this. Of course maybe you do have resources to spare and do want to travel across the world – that is good too.
  2. Before you go, read something (objective/academic) about where you are going. This will help you a great deal in appreciating the “going and doing.” This means you look outside of the popular news media to gain understanding.
  3. Tell people about it! You never know who may want to help you get there, go with you, or have experience in that culture. Share what your going and doing goals are so we can support you!
  4. Meet someone while there and exchange information with them. Follow up with them on a regular basis. Wanna know how to lead and follow in diverse environments? Build relationships with people different from yourself – you’ll be forever changed:)
  5. Write about it. Don’t let the feelings, the ah-ha’s, the anxieties escape you. John Maxwell said that reflection is like the crock pot of the mind – let the thoughts simmer until they are ready. You have to capture those moments if you are ever to make meaning of them.

Now share this with people you care about, and set out to do it!

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The Community College

Having “officially” worked in the two-year / community college space for just over a year now, I want to re-affirm my total faith in these institutions, and hope to help others gain or renew their appreciation for what they do and can do. Instead of talking about attending them though, I wanted to share this great article from the Chronicle of Higher Education written by Rob Jenkins. For my colleagues, students, future students, etc. thinking about teaching – you really need to read this. I am thinking of a companion piece about working as an administrator in two-year colleges. I think it is equally awarding, particularly for those talented Student Affairs folks out there. Happy reading, and share your thoughts!

Why You Should Consider Community Colleges: http://shar.es/9wxLL

Then I Looked Around

I am thankful for 2014. There were times in 2013 that I asked that oh so selfish question…you know the one. The one that assumes that you can’t have problems, and that bad things aren’t supposed to happen to you. I asked…Why MeWhy did my aunt have to die? Why did my fraternity brother, and two of my former students, all 33 or younger have to die? Why did my mother get that? Why did she do this? Why did he say that? Why did I lose this? Why is life seeming to crumble around me? Then I looked around. I looked up at the roof covering my head. I looked down into the face of my daughter – the true love of my life. I looked beside me and saw my friends and family, and heard their words of support and wisdom. I looked at my phone to see the technology to which I am privileged to have access.

The reality is that I have my senses, and I can still extend love and support to those around me. Despite the horrors and difficulty of 2013, God has still favored me in numerous ways. Despite my own proclivities and hang ups, I am still shown mercy. The greatest grace I know is understanding that the sadness and darkness passes. It’s OK to dwell in it for a short time, but I have to change the question. Maybe I (and you) should be asking “why not me?” I am resilient, well resourced, and well supported. I have been blessed with so much, shouldn’t I expect to be challenged and tested in this life, just as everyone else is? I think the answer is of course.

So I will start everyday with this: there are two roads we can choose to go down; two realities we can choose to acknowledge. I choose to go down the path that reflects on the blessings in spite of the curses, and I choose to acknowledge that in reality – I’m very much so OK. I am blessed and highly favored. And if you have the privilege of reading this, then you are too.Two Paths Share this with someone who might need it, and Happy New Year!

Dr. Anthony

Go Places and Do Things

Happy New Year to all, and I hope your holidays were safe and fulfilling. I’m happy to get back to blogging and hopefully helping whoever reads this have an “ah-ha” moment that will get them through the day, week, month, or year. I believe we reap what we sow, so this continues to be my attempt to sow good seeds of positive change.

I don’t do resolutions, not anymore at least; but what about a “proclamation?” I laughed when my brother JD said this to me, because proclamation sounds a lot like resolution to me, but hey, I figured I’ll play along. So as we went around the room talking about our proclamations – my partner said something so profound and so “her,” which was that she hopes 2012 brings more blessings and growth in all aspects of our life. She wasn’t knocking 2011, it was a great year in many ways for our family, in fact. I’ll count some of those blessings in a second, but let’s think about my partner’s proclamation for a minute…it’s beautifully simplistic, and a great way to approach your new year! You are proclaiming (meaning it is going to happen) that your year will be better than the last! And how cool is it that you can purpose that in a way that it will come true. So first let me rattle off some of my many blessings (not in order of importance) to model what you need to do right now (and I literally mean you should WRITE THEM OUT):

  • Appointed to my permanent position
  • Expanded my business
  • My father-in-law is still here! (he wasn’t expected to make it to Thanksgiving 2010 due to cancer – alas, he is here!)
  • My daughter turned 2 and my partner, me, mom, dad and a whole lot of others are a year older!
  • We celebrated 4 years of marriage
  • DADT was repealed
  • NC State won their bowl game! (sorry Cards)
  • My partner graduated from college
  • Both of my brothers got new positions and moved up in their jobs
  • I led TWO LeaderShape sessions and had two amazing co-leads
  • We had another great Wilson family reunion (and won the Bid Whist Tourny – BOOM)

The list goes on and on…

Throughout this year I will take time to encourage you all to count your blessings, not for bragging sake, but because it can reaffirm the good work that you are doing in your life, and maybe remind you of what gaps you have yet to fill. Now for 2012…if you need help proclaiming what you will do this year, maybe I can help. Its a fair assumption that people may not know what they want from the year, or they dare not say it because it seems so out of reach. In a leadership class I used to teach, in our class about sustaining relationships, I would tell students that they needed to GO PLACES AND DO THINGS. Wow! How important is that! Not only for sustaining relationships, but for building new ones, appreciating your own existence, learning about others, feeling connected to the world that is so vast and wonderful. So your first proclamation is to GO PLACES AND DO THINGS. Whether you are a seasoned traveler or a first time flyer/traveler, it is good for the soul, trust me. Here are some tips to get started and get the most out of your “going and doing”: 

  1. Locate a place that is “culturally” different from you (e.g., another part of town, another city/state/country, place of worship where no one talks or looks like you, etc.). Notice these don’t require an expense account to do this.
  2. Before you go, read something (objective/academic) about where you are going. This will help you a great deal in appreciating the “going and doing.”
  3. Tell people about it! You never know who may want to help you get there, go with you, or have experience in that culture.
  4. Meet someone while there and exchange information with them. Follow up with them on a regular basis. Wanna know how to lead and follow in diverse environments? Build relationships with people different from yourself – you’ll be forever changed:)
  5. Write about it. Don’t let the feelings, the ah-ha’s, the anxieties escape you. John Maxwell said that reflection is like the crock-pot of the mind – let the thoughts simmer until they are ready. You have to capture those moments if you are ever to make meaning of them.

So there you have it, your first proclamation for 2012. Now share this with people you care about, and set out to do it. Look at that, you’ve already made 2012 a better year than 2011!

The Yin Yang of Being a Student

In Asian philosophy, the concept of yin yang is used to describe how polar opposites or seemingly contrary forces are interconnected and interdependent in the natural world, and how they give rise to each other in turn. I use this concept often in my understanding of marriage, leadership, and other societal or natural constructs. To illustrate, I tell folks who are thinking about a long-term committed relationship to remember the yin yang of commitment. Imagine the worse thing you can think about your significant other – the most annoying thing they do or say – and imagine having to deal with that day-in and day-out…for eternity. Sounds daunting huh? But that’s not where it ends. Think about the joy that person brings you – the feeling of security, the love, the assurance that someone is there – and imagine having to deal with that day-in and day-out…for eternity. Not so bad. To make it in any relationship, you take the good and the bad.

In leadership, one of my favorite poems, The Penalty of Leadership, captures this concept beautifully. “Jealously does not protrude its forked tongue at the artists who produces a commonplace painting.” When you step up to the challenge of being a leader, you get enourmous benefit with that. Recognition, letters of recommendation, opportunities to network, getting that great first job. But leadership also comes with a great burden – failure, being in a fishbowl, being held to higher standards, and pure unadulterated hateration from so many people. That’s the yin yang of leadership.

As a student, you also have to walk a delicate line. Being a student has its benefits and rewards, and it has its costs. As you round the bend on yet another semester, consider what excites you about being a student. Then consider what scares you. What are your favorite parts of school and of being a student? What parts do you hate? In school I always liked the lectures (weird huh?) The expert standing in front of the room bestowing knowledge; it always felt very “academic” to me. But I didn’t like homework, or getting up early, or having to meet deadlines, or sometimes working in groups. Being a successful student meant embracing both of these realities. Too often we want to do what we like, and ignore what we hate, causing many of us to fail and inaccurately conclude that we are bad _________ (fill in the blank). You’re not a bad _________ you are just unwilling to accept the yin yang of your situation. Leaders face the same fate, as they want all the glory with none of the work or responsibility. Take time to reflect on the yin yang of your life, leadership, academic career, or work life. Getting comfortable with the good and bad is essential if you are to be successful – otherwise you only live life understanding half of the picture – and you will never finish with only half the information.