The following is an excerpt from my Fall 2016 State of the College Address:
In his book, My Story (2013), National Hockey League defenseman Bobby Orr states, “Strength is about making a conscious decision to try to be at the top of your game every day. That kind of attitude doesn’t mean you are never going to make mistakes. It doesn’t even mean you will achieve a personal best every day. But if you try, the negatives are going to be outweighed by the positive things you accomplish. If you can do that, your strength won’t just propel you along, it will make everyone around you better. One of the indescribable things about being on a team… [is]when everyone is focused on inspiring everyone else, there is almost nothing you can’t do.”
Grounded Theory researcher Brene’ Brown, in her book Rising Strong (2015), states that strength is found where our courage is tested and our values are forged. Strength is daring greatly and living courageously. Courage not only transforms our being, it will transform our college.
Dr. Brown also says that strength is a critical mass of badasses who are willing to take on tough stuff, face discomfort head-on live their values, and keep showing up. If we are clear of what our institution can become, we WILL get there. Strength is about being “all in” (Brown). Just like the training regimens of Olympic athletes, it will take consciously doing something every single day to get us there.
Yet, we cannot be fully strong and move forward until we heal from the pain of the past. Olympic swimmer Dana Vollmer posted on social media that she did not know pain and strength until she became a mother. Like Ms. Vollmer with a new level of awareness we learn that by working through pain, we grow and change.
This new awareness, although scary, can be invigorating and reignite our sense of purpose. To be strong we must be brave. Being pulled forward to even greater courage is an inescapable part of rising strong (Brown). To be strong we will need the energy generated by our passion for student success.
We are reinventing how we do things and changing our systems to promote student success. We are taking on bold new ideas and changing our paradigms. We are becoming brokers of educational opportunities rather than just offering classes. We are strengthening the role of advising and learning assessment to help our students succeed. We are implementing policies and practices that promote academic rigor and accountability. We are empowering students as partners in developing their paths and achieving their educational goals.
We are strong.We have the strength to do this together. The definition of strength is: “durable, solid, resilient, tough” and “the quality that allows someone to deal with problems in a determined and effective way.”
That is us!
Strong colleges survive. Northwest College is just that. Together we will remain strong now and into the future. I know when we work closely with each other, we capitalize on our strengths. May you have “Olympic fever” throughout the year as you think about the strength we have as a college and the gold in your heart.
We are Northwest Strong!