On January 8th of 2009, my newsletter article reported on the discussion in the Student Affairs Council meeting held that morning. We were deep in the process of developing the core ideas of our conceptual model for excellence in service and programming. We didn’t yet have the Four C words we would later define.
As I wrote then, it was and still is important for conversations taking place in Student Affairs Council to continue in departmental meetings. It is equally important for the ideas developed in departmental meetings to be shared in the Student Affairs Council discussions.
I went back to this newsletter article for a reason I’ll share in a bit, but I was struck to see, first, how far we’ve come and, second, how timely this same reminder is right now. In our December Student Affairs Council meeting, we will be having our first discussion to identify learning outcomes that are shared by every part of the division. In order to do this, it’s important for everyone to be engaged in this discussion. We need everyone’s individual ideas and we need everyone to see past their individual concerns in order to comprehend the bigger picture. To quote from that 2009 newsletter, “We have to move past the external details and differing perspectives to see to the heart of the matter. We have to be able to put ourselves in the shoes of another and see to the essence of the person we are interacting with. We have to value diversity while finding common ground.”
This is work we need to do every day – in our big picture planning and in our paying attention to the details that define excellent service and program development and delivery. We aim for excellence in our work, in part, because the work we do makes a difference in the lives of others. We never know exactly how or when we might make a difference in another’s life. We never know who will make a difference for us.
And this takes me to the reason I hunted up the 2009 article that turned out to be so appropriate for today. I shared a story about two unusual friends from vastly different backgrounds who came together to make a difference for each other. “To look at them, no one would ever expect them to even interact let alone to have become nearly inseparable, but they are. Their actions exhibit empathy and care and trust for one another.”
The story of Tarra the elephant and Bella the dog was always going to end on the sad note that those of us who share our lives with cats and dogs and other animals understand – one species has a longer life span than the other. Sadly, Bella’s and Tarra’s time together came to an end this week.
I share this story today as a reminder that our opportunity to make a difference in the lives of others is often shorter than we would like. In our case, it may be only one interaction. It’s a reminder to strive for excellence (and care) in everything we do from the biggest plan to the smallest smile.
Thank you for the excellent work you do every day!
Original video: http://www.cbsnews.com/video/watch/?id=4696315n