Life is about lessons: some good, some bad. But it is always about lessons; obvious lessons and not-so-obvious lessons. We don’t set out on life’s journey with the purpose of life’s lessons. Most of us don’t. We believe that by the time we are adults we know all the important stuff, we have learned all the important lessons, and in fact, we genuinely believe we have mastered most of what we need to know in order to lead a good and happy life. And then life trips us and we realize we don’t know much. In fact, we know very little. And then the real quest begins.
Different types of thoughts create different types of activity in the brain. This is a scientifically proven fact, writes Uma Gupta. This is widely discussed in the spiritual literature also that the thoughts of today sow the seeds for tomorrow. Yet, all of us, writes Uma Gupta, fall into the rut of "same thoughts" "same solutions" "same approaches." Driven by comfort derived from what we know, and what we think we know, we are rarely willing to challenge our thoughts. Yet, the only way to embark on new journeys is to challenge our own thinking. Believe in the impossible and eventually the brain will accept the impossible as possible, writes Uma Gupta.
The most important and defining step is our ability to define the problem and to shift your perspectives about the problem; shift your perspective by going to the edge. In other words, edginess is an essential ingredient for the birth of creativity and innovation. But what is edginess? Edginess is the willingness and ability to discard all previous notions of your understanding about the problem, and going to the edges of the problem. At the edges, writes Uma Gupta, lies the boundaries of the problem and it is near the boundaries that you will find a more accurate description and "feel" for the problem. Edginess is not for the faint-hearted, and edginess is certainly not for those who are afraid.
Uma Gupta writes..
A friend sent this to a friend who sent it to me! The story of my life is captured in these words!
We set out on life’s journey hoping, wishing, and fairly confident that the road ahead will be smooth. We wish for smooth sailing, but life’s best lessons are learned on unpaved roads. It builds courage, resilience, perseverance in us. It tests our faith and reaffirms our faith. The fork in the road is always about choices: take the easy road or take the road that is right and tall. May you be blessed to walk on unpaved roads!
Some people try to turn back their odometers.
Not me, I want people to know why I look this way.
I’ve traveled a long way and some of the roads weren’t paved!
A fascinating article titled, “Academic Inquisitors, in one of the few truly intelligent newspapers left on Planet Earth: the Wall Street Journal dated October 16, 2007. It is worth reading.
Remember Larry Summers? Oh, yes. Remember the beating got? Oh, yes.
Regardless of whether you agree with Summers or not, the way academia has behaved and continues to behave over a statement that he made tells more about academia than it does about Larry Summers. That is the simple truth of it all.
In many ways, the rankings of US News and World Report no longer hold the prestige and sterling reputation it once did? Why? Because almost every college receives some ranking or the other by some group or the other. It is difficult to find an institution today that is has not received some ranking or the other. As a parent or a future student, such rankings boldly highlighted on college websites,give us a warm and fuzzy feeling. Of course, we say to ourselves, if this institution is ranked, by God it must be a good institution. Buyer Beware! Nothing could be further from the truth.
Recent rankings of US News and World Report identify institutions that would surprise even the faculty and students at these institutions. The education offered under the title of “world-class education” is neither world-class nor is it a strong education. No wonder employers complain that many of the graduates of today cannot write, lack critical thinking skills, and are poor problem-solvers. More important, at some of these institutions, exposing students to global issues and cultural understanding is anathema. Not only do these institutions not offer global programs, they actively work behind the scenes to discourage students from pursuing global opportunities. The Spellings report is telling in that the issues identified as roadblocks to preparing a highly educated global workforce have not changed in the last decade or so. So we must get beyond rankings. We must look closely at the criteria behind such rankings. Would the authors of the US News and World Report study send their kids to institutions that they rank as top 25 or top 50. I am quite confident that they would not. So look before you leap.
Yesterday I walked to my mail box and out came the latest issue of Forbes. I stopped dead in my tracks. The headlines read, “Hiding Behind the Net: ANONYMITY LETS CREEPS, CRIMINALS, and MALICIOUS MOBS RUN WILD.” You may ask, “What’s the big deal?”
It is a HUGE deal if you have been the victim of one or many of these CREEPS and you are saying finally FORBES deemed it worthwhile to cover this issue. Halleluiah! Halleluiah! I love you FORBES!
Read the article at http://members.forbes.com/forbes/2007/1015/074.html (you have to be a member – become one if nothing else to read this article!!)
Here is an excerpt from the article:
Question this right of Net anonymity and you risk an unmitigated thrashing (anonymously, of course). So maybe we are asking for trouble when we dare to say that Internet anonymity is out of control. Today the Net still protects the abused and the disenfranchised, people who go online for help because they can do so in secret. But it also shields creeps, criminals and pedophiles. It emboldens the mean-spirited and offers them a huge audience for spewing hatred and libel. Caustic cowards are free to one-up one another in invective and vitriol–haters who would tone it down if they had to identify themselves. A backlash has begun, and it could gain support in Congress and in the courts unless the Internet industry itself finds new fixes. “People are cruel,” says Hemanshu Nigam, chief security officer at MySpace, which requires no ID data for any post. “Anonymity doesn’t inspire this, but it does remove the fear to think, to act and to explore.”
End of quote.
What can I say? Every sentence in the article is worth posting. It is filled with examples of slander, lies, libel by anonymous posters. Remember what happened at Alfred State College? A blog that purported to talk about academic issues attacked women viciously. Here is one sample posting! There were many like this, but it shows you what happens when CREEPS hide behind anonymity. They write such posts and then go home to their daughters, wife, mother, and sisters! Names have been withheld in the posting.
Posted: Wed May 31, 2006 9:41 am Post subject:
Of course X needed to do shameless toadying with X. Sleeping around like she did in the past won’t have worked (we assume).
Guest Posted: Wed May 31, 2006 5:51 pm Post subject:
If sleeping around was all that she did wrong, then leave her alone. If she were a man, she would have been considered a stud in the administration before X, not a slut. X also has X, and we all know that his general Hemingway fantasy life has probably got him to do a little of that along the way too–if not literally, then figuratively.
Hell, let’s just cut to the chase. The administration is a pack of whores, and we have all been cuckolded by SUNY, for we have been made to not call them what they are, and we have been made to sit on our hands while they are burning down the house.
What can I say? All BAD things must come to an end. After all, this is America! Yeah!
Many women administrators in higher education will admit in private, and many in public, that the world of higher education is often unkind, unforgiving, unfair, and frankly brutal at times, to women faculty and administrators. This is not to say that male faculty and administrators don’t at sometime or the other in their careers experiences the same debilitating environment. This is simply to say that research and evidence shows that women administrators and faculty experience this more than men do.
Why is this case? What is it about the environment in higher education that makes it hostile for women and minorities? I will discuss them one by one in my upcoming posts. There are many white papers, commission reports, studies, and surveys that outline a host of reasons. Many of them are wrapped under the cloth of “social issues,” but equally many relate to the tolerance of the higher education community for what is blatantly wrong, simply unjust, and absolutely antiquated.
Creating change in higher education is not for the faint-hearted. Creating any change in a higher education is a slow dance, a very, very slow dance. Creating rapid change, even if it is desperately needed, is the kiss of death. While everyone will agree that change is needed, few want it, even fewer expect it, and less than a handful seek it. The pace of change in academia itself needs change. Within this context of slow and slower, creating a nurturing environment for women and minorities is a monumental task. Regardless of what Presidents’ and other public spokespersons may say, diversity and a fair working environment are not high priorities for many stakeholders on many campuses. If you are campus is an exception, congratulations! You are among the few. Diversity is nice talk. Everyone applauds the speaker, usually the President. And then people go home and come back to debilitating work environments to start the cycle of slow dance all over again. It is time for change. It is time for meaningful change at a rapid clip. Even if we do so, we will still be far behind corporate America. In my next posting, I will share some of the recommendations of commissions of the past and why even simple, easy to implement changes continue to remain on book shelves.
“A Speech that Made Abolition History” by Mr. Coles appeared in the Wall Street Journal on May 12, 2007. “It is rare indeed that a single piece of oratory can spark not just a change in the law, but also a tidal shift in global opinion,” the article begins. It is about the speech that William Wilberforce gave on May 12, 1789 to Britain’s House of Commons against slavery. Wilberforce was elected to Parliament when he was barely 21. He was short and snub-nosed and was once described as a “shrimp,” and yet his oratory skills made him to be known as the “Nightingale of the Commons.”
He was not the one to have speech writers write his piece for him. Oh! No. He had too much to say. He had guts, passion, courage, and conviction. “When I consider the magnitude of the subject which I am to bring before the House – a subject in which the interests not just of this country, nor of Europe alone, but of the whole world and of posterity are involved … it is impossible for me not to feel both terrified and concerned at my own inadequacy to such a task.. the end of which is the total abolition of the slave trade.” Of course, Wilberforce was threatened and attacked for his views and plenty of disgrace was brought upon him. Yet he persisted. He had to wait for more than 26 years before the tide turned on July 26, 1833. He died three days later. His life’s mission was fulfilled.
Today, it is quite unthinkable for many of us to even consider fighting for our convictions. The risks are great and the attacks are vicious. But when we choose to do so, we can rest assured that we are in the company of giants who may look like shrimps.
Here is a perfect excuse (if anyone needed one!) to watch the Super Bowl. This Super Bowl is not just about two great teams butting heads, but it is also about two of the greatest coaches in NFL history coming together and displaying their leadership philosophy in action. The head coach of the Indianapolis Colts, Tony Dungy, and the head coach of the Chicago Bears, Lovie Smith (don’t you just love that name?) are known for their decency and integrity and yes, for their extraordinary talent and heart-throbbing records.
Two African American friends with distinguished records understand that a game that is watched by millions (last year the record was 141 million!) is all about character and grace under fire. This in a world where soccer moms and dads show their fangs at a kids game! Watch for the "Lovie Look," as the Wall Street Journal calls it in an article dated January 29, 2007 – a distant stare that expresses disappointment; a stare that says, "You missed an opportunity to be a great player!" I wish we could all practice the Lovie Look when our children disappoint us!
The Wall Street Journal quotes Mr. Dungy:"I think your faith is more important than your job, family is more important than your job. We all know that’s the way it should be, but we’re kind of afraid to say that sometimes." of his interviews. Perfect score, eh?
This Super Bowl watch the game and see two authentic leaders in action. We can all learn a lot from two great leaders who happen to be two great football coaches!