Having just wrapped up the Summer Challenge program, I am somewhat relaxed as I watch colleague and good friend Kevin Folan take charge of the next program, August Orientation. Kevin’s leadership as Dean of Students and as Director of the August Orientation (AO) program is deeply reflective and walks the walk as outlined in this blog. I wish him and the AO team the best as they work with incoming students.
I was reminded a few weekends back of a valuable lesson I remember from Stephen Collins’ business gem, Good to Great. I think it’s inherent in most humans, adults in particular, to blame others when things go awry. I vividly recall the myriad of excuses I offered my mom for my less-than-stellar grades during my freshman year at Bowdoin. The excuses ranged anywhere from my ridiculous professors to being homesick, which was just a blatant lie. On a recent visit with a Hyde alumnus, he fell into this too familiar trap of the blame game. When talking about the difficulties he’s faced in life over the last six months, the majority of our conversation focused around his overbearing parents and his boring classes…it sounded familiar.
Collins discusses this paradigm using, what he calls, “The window and the mirror.” When looking to diagnose the causes of a failing, most people look out the window to place blame on some outside factor. I think this somehow makes all of us feel a little better because the mistake wasn’t our fault. Great leaders, however, possess the ability to look in the mirror to find out what they can do differently in order to change their circumstances and point out the window to credit others when things go according to plan.
While a difficult ideal to live up to, this notion has helped keep my frustration level in check because the only thing I can actually change when life throws me a curveball is me…I hope this alum gives this mantra a shot.