As of Monday, I began weaning myself out of the boot and I posted that news on Facebook asking people who have had that experience to share ideas and lessons learned. I got several messages of good will and lots of good advice. There were some definite groupings – Take things slowly, listen to what your foot/ankle is telling you and do all the physical therapy, all the time. The overall message was have patience and be persistent.
When I returned to UT Austin as Vice President, those were the very words a colleague shared with me. They advised that the way to accomplish things at UT was to be patient and persistent. It was great advice for UT, and probably most universities. It also struck me Monday as I read all the comments that it’s great advice for many worthwhile tasks. Having the patience to know that complicated activities take time and the persistence to be willing to keep trying is often the way to success. Of course, it’s not as exciting as a whiz-bang, happens like magic result. On the other hand, in my experience, whiz-bang, magic outcomes are rare. Helping our colleagues and students understand this reality is a challenging, but critical part of any leadership role.
And then we have our current situation, when changes happened faster than we ever could have imagined and we are still trying to sort out the best methods for coping with new circumstances daily.. And yet, even now, patience and persistence are often necessary in the midst of the urgency if we want to achieve the best outcomes not just the fastest. We joke about committees on university campuses, but done well, their purpose is to bring stakeholders together to share ideas, bring in diverse perspectives, and ask a variety of questions. Good committee work takes patience and persistence. So does good problem-solving.
One of the reasons strategic planning has a bad name is that it takes time and energy – otherwise known as patience and persistence – to take the words of the plan and bring them to life. Writing the plan, while challenging, is actually the easiest part. Any project is easy to start, getting through the slog in the muddy middle, is hard work. And right now, the middle of this semester is a slog! What are you facing right now that needs your patience and persistence? As a leader, who needs your help in understanding this reality? What can you do for yourself and the people around you to help people who are tired and frustrated in this difficult year to have the fortitude to keep going?
Just as it will be a while before I walk smoothly and confidently again, it will be a while before campus life returns to normal. Like all my wonderful Facebook friends who sent me good wishes with their words of caution, I wish you each the patience and persistence to continue leading successfully.