Stage Perceptions/ Leadership Reflection

Stage Perceptions/ Leadership Reflection

Lights, camera, action. The music is playing, the dancing begins, Lord don’t let me forget too many steps and keep my feet moving when I do miss a step or two. Keep on moving, keep on smiling, focus on joy. What fun!

Recap. I saw the judges, the first few tables under the judges box, and nothing else. My view was focused because I was in the spotlight (and maybe room 2). This is not within my comfort zone. I would much rather plan the event and host the experience. Keep the acts moving, be the conductor of the three ring circus. That was not my role when I danced. I was to perform. Yikes.

In retrospect and after reviewing the recording I was forced to confront the reality that my view from stage with lights beaming down was very different from the view from the audience. The energy seems high from both perspectives, although no one joined me on stage (I did issue an invitation). The number of people in the audience, the people clapping and engaging, the number of people who stormed the stage with purple roses seemed to be much more than from the stage. To be honest, I only saw one person come forward with the roses from stage. Boy, was my perception off!

Clearly, in this experience, as with many situations in life, context, perspective and personal reality form individual experience. My experience from stage, was so different from my perspective after I viewed the recording. It was stunning. I started thinking about how perceptions and spot lights influence my everyday choices.

Being unaware of other perspectives and perceptions can be comforting. I could dance through life and decisions without thinking. No need to move the spotlight to consider another view. However, I am uncomfortable with that narrow approach. I never really believed in the concept of one simple problem, one solution, done. First, what if the one solution is not a good solution. Second, is there any such thing as one, simple problem? My experience has been that every problem is complex and simple answers run the risk of missing the point. Life is complicated. People are complicated. Solutions need to be multi-faceted. Any solution that doesn’t consider a broad scope of approaches falls short of being acceptable. We owe it to our work, our community and our neighbors to consider complexity when identifying solutions, developing policy or determining direction.

The best way, from my perspective, to shine light in many corners of the room is to be intentional, invite everyone to the stage, and build more stages, or just turn up the house lights(!!). Shining light into the darkness and dim-lighting when addressing complex issues will be a goal for me. I am open to suggestions and hope that others can begin to reframe perceptions which focus our choices, and shine a light on a broader perspective.

Hope and Transcendence 

I imagine 100 years ago several Winona “normal college” faculty were visiting with Rochester school teachers about ways to offer education courses in Rochester and the surrounding area. Well that happened, and then in 1920 Winona State started a nursing program in Rochester. The programs kept growing and the offerings expanded to meet the needs of local industry. More learning from industry experts and programs grew. Here we in our centennial years with over 7,000 living alums in the county and celebrating another commencement on Friday (May 5).

The graduates have accomplished a lot and they have a great future ahead of them. Their parents will be celebrating as will the WSU community of faculty, staff and students. This is my favorite time of year, hope is in the air. Actually, hope is always in the air in higher education, students are hoping for a better next semester, a better approach to life, a better future. The tools to bring people together and be tomorrows leaders, developing a path to a brighter future. There are few experiences that embody hope in the same way that education does.

It is this time of year that I recall a quote that fits the energy and hope of the season.

“Hope is not prognostication. It is an orientation of the spirit, an orientation of the heart; it transcends the world that is immediately experienced, and is anchored somewhere beyond its horizons.”
~ Václav Havel, “An Orientation of the Heart“

Enjoy the week – experience the hope and consider your role in transcending the world and mentoring a new graduate.