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Human Resources

Weekly Wisdom

Weekly Wisdom

Weekly Wisdom

I write Weekly Wisdom as the Executive Director of Human Resources at Central Washington University. Having an eye for meaningful things, I include my own observations and thoughts, ideas I've recently encountered, and/or topics that are of current importance. I like to think that others will find reading Weekly Wisdom worth their time.

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Weekly Wisdom

By Stephen Sarchet

I find it odd to be writing a column called Weekly Wisdom because I don’t believe by any stretch of the imagination to be any wiser that anyone else nor to have answers of any importance. With that in mind, please accept my musings with a grain of salt for in the end, that’s all they really are!

This week we celebrated Martin Luther King Jr. Day and enjoyed a long weekend in recognition of one of America’s historical figures. In the evening of the holiday, I found myself wondering about him, which in turn got me to thinking about how knowing someone makes them more real to me, which in turn got me thinking that I don’t really know much about Dr. King. That circular thought rolled itself around my mind through a restless night and was my first thought on waking. I needed to know more about the man so that I could “know” the person he was rather than the name on a calendar.

I learned that he was born Michael King Jr. in Montgomery Alabama in 1929. His father, Michael King Sr., changed his name to Martin Luther King after a trip to Germany in 1931 as an homage to the theologian Martin Luther. Michael Jr. became Martin Luther Jr. when he was two years old. I learned that Martin Luther King Jr. entered Morehouse College when he was only 15 years old and he wasn’t originally interested in pursuing the ministry like his father until the college president, Dr. Benjamin Ray, influenced him to pursue it. He entered Boston University to get his graduate degree, and after completing his doctorate in systematic theology, and became a pastor like his father, grandfather, and great-grandfather before him. Boston U is also where he met Coretta who was studying music and singing. I like the thought that these two people, he from Georgia and she from Alabama, should meet in a place so far from either of their homes and become a family. It is a personal story that is similar to my own story of meeting the girl who would become my wife.

He helped organize the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and was elected its president in 1957, a position he would hold until his death in 1968. After being arrested for helping organize a voter registration movement in Montgomery, Alabama in 1963, he wrote Letter from Birmingham Jail, which I had never read before this week. In reading his words I found I admired the man who wrote them for his conviction in his ideals, not just for himself, but for all of us. I admired his personal courage in living up to his own beliefs. I recalled the images of the police attacking protestors with dogs and firehoses as the backdrop of his words, I believed him when he said “Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly”, and was moved by his description of having to explain to his six year old daughter why she can’t go to an amusement park she sees advertised on TV and the knowledge of the impact it will have on her, of seeing the “ominous clouds of inferiority beginning to form in her little mental sky”. I could see that he found himself caught in the cross roads of change. His personal belief in peaceful means for change stood at odds with the rising tide of proponents of change by any means necessary. I could feel his frustration with those he hoped would add their own voices and support, but who remained silent.

So I come back to where I started. I know better than to pretend I can relate to the struggle, but in knowing more about the person he was, he becomes personal for me, more human, which I think is the same for any of us.   

The Ultimate Affirmation

Every accomplishment is based on action, not on thought...yet the thought is always father to the deed. Achievement starts with an idea, a perspective, a point of view, and an attitude: the attitude that no matter what, you will do what it takes to reach your goals -- and live the life you want to live.

To do that, here's one affirmation you should repeat at the start of every day. It's referred to as "The Man in the Arena" and is an excerpt from this 1910 Teddy Roosevelt speech…Try it. But don't just read it to yourself -- read it out loud. Stand tall. Stand proudly. Don't just say the words -- feel the words:

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better.

The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.

The best way to be different is to do the things other people refuse to do.

The best way to life the life you want to live is to stop worrying about what other people think.

The best way to succeed is to outthink, out hustle, and outwork everyone else.

You may not be as experienced, as well funded, as well connected, or as talented... but you can always do more than other people are willing to do. Even when everything else seems stacked against you, effort and persistence can still be your competitive advantages -- and they may be the only advantages you truly need.

Dare greatly. Know victory. Know defeat.

And every day, commit to living the life you want to live.


Available here at www.inc.com.  By Jeff Haden.  Published December 28, 2016.

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The end of a year is nostalgic for many and I’m no exception. I’m not big on resolutions. Just like a large percentage of the population, I don’t keep them.  So why make them?  But I’ve considered one, just one, this year. I’ve been thinking a lot lately about those other people. You know, those who think about the world differently than I do. I know they are people just like me. I know they don’t hope that the world “goes to hell in a handbasket,” as my father used to say. I’m making the commitment to purposefully interact more with people who I perceive think differently than I do. Maybe I’ll setup a lunch or coffee date and ask some questions. I’m hopeful this will help me be more positive about the future. Who knows what it’ll bring. The older I get I become more and more aware of what I don’t know. How about you? Making any changes?

I read this recently in The Sun, “…an independent, ad-free magazine that for more than forty years has used words and photographs to evoke the splendor and heartache of being human.”


     I met Betsy in College on the first day of Comparative Religious Thought, when we clashed during a classroom debate. She called me intolerant while I played the role of persecuted martyr standing up for my Christian faith. The professor watched us go at it for fifteen minutes. Betsy made a few points that challenged my beliefs, and I was embarrassed not to have a better defense.
     When class was over, I made a swift exit, but Betsy found me outside. “I disagree with everything you said,” she told me, “but I like you. Want to have lunch?”
     I accepted, and for the rest of the semester we would argue our beliefs in class and then eat lunch together afterward as if nothing had happened. Betsy inspired me to dig deeper into my faith and to ask questions rather than accept the platitudes I heard in church. I stopped trying to convert her and learned to appreciate her for who she was. She taught me to think for myself and not be afraid of not having all the answers.
     Years later Betsy was a bridesmaid in my wedding. We still joke that our friendship doesn’t make sense, but that’s precisely why it works.

Sarahbeth Caplin
Greely, Colorado
Will be available at http://thesunmagazine.org/ in February 2017

 

From a TED Talk by Elizabeth Lesser: Say Your Truths and Seek Them in Others (available here):

So those are the three lessons I took with me…

One: uncover your soul.
Two: when things get difficult or painful, try to stay open.
And three: every now and then, step off your hamster wheel into deep time.

You don't have to wait for a life-or-death situation to clean up the relationships that matter to you, to offer the marrow of your soul and to seek it in another. We can all do this. We can be like a new kind of first responder, like the one to take the first courageous step toward the other, and to do something or try to do something other than rejection or attack. We can do this with our siblings and our mates and our friends and our colleagues. We can do this with the disconnection and the discord all around us. We can do this for the soul of the world.

Happy New Year, Everyone.

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Inspiration comes in all forms. I get a lot of mail selling things from training ideas to computing solutions to rewards and recognition programs. I also get information from other institutions. I received the following as a marketing campaign from Berea College. Berea is a small Christian-based college in Kentucky. I liked the story, by Ernest “Ernie” Graham, Class of 1949:

One Sunday afternoon in the 1940s, a former student told me that a friend of ours was in the hospital and needed blood. I got in a car and left campus immediately, without permission. I gave blood and returned to the campus that evening.

On Monday morning, I received a note to report to Dean Shutt’s office immediately. Dean Shutt was very stern and asked me if I had left the campus on Sunday without permission. I informed Dean that I had left the campus in a great rush to go to Lexington, Kentucky to give blood to a friend.

Since I left without permission, Dean would have to find me $5, as this was a very serious violation of the rules.

I informed Dean Shutt that I did not have $5 and that I would have to work a long time to pay the bill. At that time, I made twelve cents an hour at my Berea College campus job.

At the beginning of the next quarter, I went to the Labor Office to settle my bill for the next nine weeks of school. The cost was $36.20, including the fine, and I knew that I was going to be short and would have to get a student loan.

I stood in line wondering what I was going to do when I was told that I did not have enough money to pay the bill. A college student was in charge of my line, and I gave her my name. She pulled my file out and hesitated for a brief moment.

A great smile appeared on her face, and she told me that I had received a scholarship for the full amount of my bill for “my willingness to help others.” Dean Shutt had recommended me for the scholarship and I was very relieved to be debt free.

I feel like we have the ability every day to do good work as this story illustrates for both Dean Shutt and Mr. Graham. Each led with their heart and did the right thing. Here are CWU, we call this the Wildcat Way. Have a great week.

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Pearl Harbor Day

Image result for pearl harborIt's Pearl Harbor Day.  Seventy-five years ago today, at 7:55 a.m. Hawaii time, a Japanese dive bomber bearing the red symbol of the Rising Sun of Japan on its wings appeared out of the clouds above the island of Oahu. A swarm of 360 Japanese warplanes followed, descending on the U.S. naval base at Pearl Harbor in a ferocious assault. The surprise attack struck a critical blow against the U.S. Pacific fleet and drew the United States irrevocably into World War II. The next day, President Roosevelt called it, “…a date which will live in infamy.” 

 

From the Boston Globe, 12/7/16, available here.

                When Robert Greenleaf closes his eyes, he still sees the red circles painted on the wings of Japanese warplanes headed toward nearby Pearl Harbor. He was 19 then, a gunner’s mate third class in the Navy. Suddenly, he was at war, frantically loading Browning .50 caliber machine guns. 

                “When we saw the red meatballs on the wings,” he recalled, “we realized who they were.” Greenleaf, now 94, is among a dwindling number of veterans who were on the Hawaiian island of Oahu on Dec. 7, 1941, when a Japanese surprise attack killed more than 2,400 people, and propelled the United States into World War II. 

                Now, 75 years later, the impact of that day — ingrained in the psyche of earlier generations — is softened by the passing decades and the more recent tragedy of Sept. 11, 2001. The front page of the Globe’s morning edition on Dec. 8, 1941, was dominated by coverage of the attack on Pearl Harbor. Greenleaf was promoted weeks before the attack, which claimed at least 1,177 lives when the USS Arizona sank.

                “I asked a girl one day at the high school track what she knew about Pearl Harbor,”Greenleaf recalled, “and the girl said, ‘Who is she?’” 

                The number of living veterans of the Pearl Harbor attack is not known, according to the Pentagon and Navy. But Lou Large, department president of the Sons and Daughters of Pearl Harbor survivors, said he had heard only 400 remain alive.  Greenleaf, who is house bound, does not plan to be there. Neither does George Hursey, a 96 year old Brockton man attached to the Army artillery on Oahu 75 years ago. 

              “We did what we trained for,” Hursey said. “It’s years and years and years ago. My God, 75 years.” As vivid as those memories are for Greenleaf and Hursey, that day is ancient history for nearly everyone else. 

Seventy-five years is a long time. My dad at 92 remembers. He wasn’t at Pearl Harbor, but he was alive and he remembers. Lots has changed in 75 years, but some things haven’t. I hope we all remember, on this day and every day, that we live in a country where we are free. Free to say just about anything that is on our minds. Free to make mistakes. Free to make a million dollars.  We must remember we owe our freedom to many, many people who sacrificed much.

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Conflict

verb

1. to come into collision of disagreement; be contradictory, at variance, or in opposition; clash: 

The account of one eyewitness conflicted with that of the other. My class conflicts with my going to the concert.

2.  to fight or contend; do battle.

noun

3.  a fight, battle, or struggle, especially a prolonged struggle; strife.

4.  controversy; quarrel:

conflicts between parties.

Honestly, conflict is always a part of the job when you are director of HR…animosity amongst co-workers, clashes between supervisor and employee, tug-of-wars between colleagues, discrimination complaints, perceptions vs. reality, etc. In most cases, my job is to inform, educate, and assist in resolving the conflict. I know that not all conflict is bad but it is uncomfortable. Reflecting about my experiences, there have been times when I have waded in too far, trying to make things better while not having the responsibility or power to do so. I have to also acknowledge that there were times when I probably didn’t take enough action because the risk was too high or the stakes were too low. 

On Facebook recently, I read the following by a gentleman named Michael Anthony from LA:

On Wednesday, I was standing in line at the grocery store. It's the day before Thanksgiving, so it is quite literally a 45 minute wait. I'm standing by those dreaded magazines with all the horrible headlines, which I always try to ignore.  Everyone is keeping to themselves mostly, except for... a total stranger…who has the audacity to elbow, point to Hilary and Michelle Obama on the cover of one magazine, and quite loudly state: "I can't believe that loser **** thinks she can steal the win from Donald. Her and that ****** are such whiny *****." Then he laughs heartily.

When I say that he spoke loud, I mean bellowing. I look around -- and everyone not only in my aisle but the aisle on both sides of me has heard. They grimace...and then they look down. Men, women, white, black... They look down.  I suddenly flash to a remembrance of me as a 6-year-old child. A family member once owned a home that was part of the Underground Railroad. We'd sit behind this concrete slab under their deck and talk about what happened here. Even as a small child -- a young, white man myself -- I said I would die before I let that kind of open hate live in my world. I made the same resolution when I learned about the holocaust in junior high. And I felt that exact same fire now -- in the grocery store.

I found myself, like everyone else, looking down...but I couldn't continue to do that. After about 30 seconds, something in me snapped. I put down my basket, turned around and looked that man in the eyes. I was shocked by how badly I was shaking, but words began spilling out of my mouth, loudly and fiercely.

I asked everyone: "I'm sorry, everyone, but I must ask for some support in addressing this hateful and ignorant man. Look up, please. Someone look up because I can't do this alone."  People began to look up. I began to cry and I don't know why but I couldn't stop. I continued staring the man down... "Those comments were inappropriate and I will not allow them in my world."

His reply? "Dude, calm down. I wasn't calling you a **** or a ****."  By now, everyone was looking up. I continued, shaking uncontrollably. "You will stand in this line and you will keep your mouth shut. You won't speak. You will not address any of us. You will pay for your items and you will leave."

He kept trying to respond, and I kept cutting him off by calmly, repeating "You're done. Shut your mouth." By now, people were clapping. Eventually, he got quiet and looked down. We were all looking up and now he was the one looking down.

Immediately, everyone began talking. Not about him, but the holidays. Joyous, laughing. And it wasn't out of embarrassment or to pretend what happened didn't just happen.... But it was because we were instantly bonded in this weird but beautiful way.

Together, we silenced ignorant hate. We made the choice to look up. And we shared a moment. I was overwhelmed with emotion and fear before I decided to speak, but I asked for help...and help came forth, strongly and beautifully.

 

Last night, I attended a Not In Our Kittitas County. I came away feeling a renewed sense that we are all in this together.  Regardless of our politics, let’s look up and speak out to make CWU and our community a better place.  Please…

 

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A meaningful life is not being rich, being popular, being highly educated or being perfect…it is about being real, being humble, being strong and being able to share ourselves and touch the lives of others. ~ Unknown

 

In the end, though, maybe we must all give up trying to pay back the people in this world who sustain our lives. In the end, maybe it’s wiser to surrender before the miraculous scope of human generosity and to just keep saying thank you, forever and sincerely, for as long as we have voices.
~ Elizabeth Gilbert

 

Gratitude is the memory of the heart. 
~ Massieu

 

Each day, each season, each cycle offers something of beauty. Let us notice and give thanks.  ~ Diane Mariechild

I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought, and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.
~G.K. Chesterton

Gratitude means thankfulness, counting your blessings, noticing simple pleasures, and acknowledging everything that you receive. It means learning to live your life as if everything were a miracle, and being aware on a continuous basis of how much you’ve been given. 

                                      ~ Marelisa Fábrega


 

 

Even in the most peaceful surroundings, the angry heart finds quarrel.
Even in the most quarrelsome surroundings, the grateful heart find peace.
~ Doe Zantamata

 
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We'll go on...

“Fifty years this month, The Chronicle of Higher Education began life with an unprecedented and audacious vision: to provide great journalism about every facet of American colleges and universities.” (www.chronicle.com/article/The-Chronicle-How-We-Got-Here/238247?cid=cp61)

 

This is the first line in the 50th anniversary publication of The Chronicle of Higher Education, which arrived on my desk yesterday. I spent some time going through it. A lot has happened in the last fifty years. Here are some excerpts:

  • November 1968: Yale announces it will admit women. Princeton follows.
  • February 1968: Police shoot and kill three at South Carolina State College after a civil-rights protest at a segregated bowling alley. Many events contribute to a culture of student unrest for the remainder of the decade.
  • June 1972: Title IX becomes law.
  • April 1976: The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence reports that academics in “over 100 colleges, universities and related institutes” have clandestine relationships with the CIA.
  • July 1978: Hanna Gray becomes the first women to lead a major U.S. higher education institution, the University of Chicago.
  • June 1989: Hundreds of students and other protesters are slain in China’s Tiananmen Square massacre.
  • July 1990: George H.W. Bush signed the Americans with Disabilities Act into law.
  • April 1996: The Unabomber, Theodore Kaczynski, mathematical prodigy and former UC Berkeley professor with degrees from Harvard and the University of Michigan, is arrested in Montana.
  • February 2004: Facebook is launched.
  • August-September 2005: Hurricanes Katrina and Rita cut a swath of destruction access three states, displacing thousands of students and ultimately causing thousands of college employees to lose their jobs.
  • April 2007: Mass shooting at Virginia Tech leaves 33 dead including the gunman.
  • April 2011: Department of Education Office for Civil Rights issues new guidance to colleges on complying with Title IX.
  • November 2015: Protests by black students at the University of Missouri, including a threatened boycott by the football team, culminate in the resignations of the university system president and chancellor.

 

It will come as no surprise that I consider myself a Democrat and am a Hilary Clinton supporter. I went to bed early last night. I didn’t want to witness the state by state defeat. Reading through these Chronicle milestones bolstered my hope. We’ve been through a lot of change, in higher education and in society at large. We’ve survived. The older I get the more I don’t know. Perhaps we will thrive. I do know: we’ll work hard and we’ll go on.

 

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I’ve been thinking a lot lately about getting older. I’m 58 years old; I’ve written before that I started working here at CWU when I was 26 years old. Maybe it was the death of Edwin Torres-Pagan unexpectedly last week; he worked with my husband for over thirty years. Maybe it’s because I’m reading a book called The Last Gift of Time: Life Beyond Sixty, by Carolyn G. Heilbrun. (I’m not 60 yet but I’m certainly working on it and want to be prepared.) Maybe it’s because there are days, actually moments when I feel a bit irrelevant. Or maybe it’s just the time of year…the trees are moving from life to dormancy for the winter. Maybe it’s just got me thinking…

        Although the old, as we are daily warned, are growing in numbers while the population of the young yearly declines, it is the young who influence the world we live in. Everyone from actors to tennis players to writers are getting younger. Except in advertisements of dentifrices designed for the wearers of false teeth or laxatives to rescue the aging from their constipation, the young dominate the airwaves, television, the fashion ads, the Internet (and the technology to access it), and the movies. The aging, while nervous about HMOs, Medicare, and Social Security, do not seem to play a very large role in this country’s affairs – aging women even less than men. If, therefore, we wish to keep up with at least some part of what is going in the world, it is the young to whom we must turn.

        So if those who are younger talk, and those who are older listen, and if, as I believe, the young like to talk to or anyway “at” those older, for the very same satisfaction the difference in generation offers each, isn’t it pretty much a one-way street? Do we who are getting on serve only to listen to the young? Have we nothing to tell them that is worth their hearing, even if they may feel a little bored hearing it? I do not mean that we sit silent and judgmental…we speak, we respond, we question.

        But as I pondered this a good while I came only recently to understand that it is our very presence that is important to the young. They want us to be there: not in their homes, perhaps, not watching them with a baleful eye as they go about their daily work, but there. We reassure them that it matters to us that it continues. If we do not tiresomely insist that the past was better, that the present is without morals or good habits or healthy living or (heaven help us) family values, whatever they are; if we do not insist on recounting ancient anecdotes as original as a tape recording and as easily rendered audible; if we do not recount adventures in the past, even if requested to do so, then the young will sometimes actually seek…for something we are equipped to give them. What to call it? It is the essence of having lived long, it is the unstated assurance that most disasters pass, it is the survival of deprivation and earth and rejection that renders our sympathy of value.

        Perhaps the young can sense what I now know: that I may look like some of those ancient beings, but inside of me I can still partake of all the spontaneous joy of youth… (The Last Gift of Time: Life Beyond Sixty, page 163-4)

 

So, this week, regardless of age:

Find some joy! Cheer for the Cubs! Celebrate life! Kick some leaves!

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Two national stories caught my attention this week, both involving the power of students to support change. One at Georgetown and one at Harvard…

Fall leaves fall clip art autumn clip art leaves clip art clipart 7        According to an article in the Washington Post, a Georgetown student, Febin Bellamy, would sit down to study about the same time the janitor, Oneil Batchelor, started his night shift. The janitor and the student occupied the same space but were separated by space, position, role. It took them a while to connect…“A nod one night. A hello the next. And within weeks Batchelor and…Bellamy were having long talks about being immigrants, about wanting to be entrepreneurs, about politics and history, and music. Bellamy even went to Batchelor’s church and met his 6-year-old daughter.” To make a long story short, “Bellamy had a brainstorm. What if he found a way to introduce the workers to the students? And that idea went from a class project in April to a fundraiser making real change today.” He started a Facebook page called Unsung Heroes where he began posting profiles about workers around campus. Stories got shared.

        Batchelor, it turns out, is a gifted cook. Students raised $2500, found catering jobs for him; Oneil’s Famous Jerk became a webpage and a business. There’s a video associated with the story. It shows Batchelor cooking jerk chicken and students flocking to get some. The Power of Students. The Power of Community.

        The second story is about a dining workers strike at Harvard. The university and the union reached a tentative agreement on Tuesday. The union announced the agreement “accomplished all of our goals.” According to the Harvard Crimson, more than 500 students participated in a walk out and sit in. “At one point during the night, students and strikers joined hands and marched in a circle, singing “We Shall Overcome.” I don’t know the specifics of the union’s demands, the university’s position, or what led to the strike. I imagine the union members, regardless, felt very good about the support from the student body.

The Power of Students. The Power of Community.

        These stories, for me, illustrate the reason I love working at a higher ed institution and probably most specifically at Central Washington University. The influx of students each fall provide all of us with a vibrancy, a newness, a conscience, if you will, about what is possible. They show up all bright and shiny, full of optimism; you can’t help but be infected by it. CWU is my home; people at work, including students, are my neighborhood. We support each other through thick and thin. We argue, we disagree, we sometimes lose our cool. We also celebrate and support each other. Have an ill family member? We bring the casserole. Car break down? We give you a ride to work. Your kid’s name in the paper? We bring you a copy. This week, these two stories, made me reflect about how lucky I am to have students as part of my life. I hope you feel the same.

On another note, Bill Bowen died this week. He was described by the Chronicle of Higher Education, as an “influential Higher-Ed Thinker and President of Princeton and Mellon.” (He became president of Princeton at the age of 38!) I love his books. The first one I read was The Shape of the River about affirmative action in college admissions. I read The Game of Life, about athletics in academe. I plan to read his memoir, Lessons Learned: Reflections of a University President. He made ideas accessible. I felt like I knew him. He will be missed.

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