“That ship has sailed, sweetheart!” My husband replied to my concern about being named the Founding Dean of the School of Nursing. The School was a concept that brought complex academic programming under one administrative leader. It was innovative and collaborative. I had developed a business plan and worked with professionals from both institutions to establish success. Honestly, I hadn’t planned to be named the Dean as I am a good planner and developer. However, I said yes and had a great 3 and a half years of working with some high end professionals who educate a quality nursing workforce. This was an opportunity, not an expectation, it developed out of an idea.
Curious, how often opportunities are a combination of reaching out and engaging with people and professionals who have expertise in other institutions and professions. Courageously choosing a new and different path to address inefficiencies or problems instead of choosing a safe, well worn path. And, finally, engaging with a broad network that includes individuals who genuinely support your work and mission. These three elements are essential to responding to opportunities – 1. Networking; 2. Courage; and 3. Support (playing with a net).
In the above example I networked and established trust with both institutions for 3 years prior to transitioning to a School. It was hard work. My commitment to collaboration was sincere and, together, we found small successes, then bigger successes. Everything came together because those that were part of the team wanted opportunities for students.
Courage is a tough thing when you are walking into an unprecedented area, indeed it is the only time courage is actually needed. Regardless of the great criticism and confusion about complex systems, the approach worked. The questions reflected on the change of the norm and how that was an uncomfortable place to navigate. Courage takes conviction and understanding of complexity, and willingness to step into a place where the footing is unsure. It is scary, and exhilarating!
Finally, support is essential. I am privileged to “play with a net”. I had support from the administration in the School opportunity, I had and have support from my spouse. These are key to success. Further, I have a strong educational background and network that will support other directions and other opportunities.
Over the span of my career I have had many opportunities. At the moment the opportunity was presented, I was not always sure that the direction or choice was an opportunity that fit me and my future. Today, I am pleased to be in a new role where I engage with the community, connect community needs to higher education opportunities. I am blessed… “This ship is sailing”.