Saturday, January 08, 2005

Learning to say "no"

Since this is my third cold this winter - happily I have not lost my voice, this time - I raised in my Thursday counseling session the issue of how one knows when to stop taking on new responsibilities. A hubris of some good hearted, capable people - I think of myself as both - is that they think that can intervene and resolve almost any problem. In my case the mission of my organization, has grown and new missions are being suggested - and the 'normal' end of my working day is 10 PM at the earliest, with weekends a time for still more work.

My counselor's message was that one either learns to say "no" or, eventually, your body sends you a message. I'm not sure that my three colds are a product of stress, viruses could be the explanation, but it is food for reflection.

It is hard to say no, partly because I have the most amazing staff who have become so effective in producing great results. This was demonstrated again at a conference we organized for AU faculty on friday, the Ann Ferren Teaching Conference. The level of initiative and service that CTE staff members provided was one believable. On participant said he had organized conferences for corporate executives for years and this was the best he had ever attended. There is no way that I can acknolwedge and thank them sufficiently and I worry that CTE, in its present incarnation will be only a transient phenomena, rather than a harbinger of what can be, institution-wide.

Many students are back and tomorrow night, virtually all the rooms in Anderson Hall will be lighted, once again. I welcomed the quiet of the holidays and I welcome student's return. They are the life-blood of a university. Without the infusion of vitality, diversity, idealism and unpredictability they provide, universities would become sad and sterile places.

I need to get a decent night's sleep in the hope of giving this cold a knockout blow.


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