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Dean Blount's Blog

Passion, Conviction and Self-reflection
January 25, 2012

  Passion, Conviction and Self-reflection
 

 

In my last blog post, I wrote about the high standards that my father pushed me to adopt as a child. As those who live and work with me know, his lessons took. Many would say that I am relentless in how I push myself and those around me. People often ask me why I take on certain issues. “You have a good job and good reputation – why not just coast a bit more?”

People also frequently tell me that they are inspired by my passion and ask where it comes from. I’ve come to realize that my passion comes from my conviction.

For me, living with a status quo that I believe is fundamentally wrong is not an option – especially now that I have the ability in my role as dean to influence it. I believe deeply that each of us is put on this earth to make it a better place than we found it. In whatever small way the life path that we are given provides, we have a choice – to make life better or to make it worse for those who follow. And in my experience, defending the status quo can sometimes make it worse.

Now, with that kind of conviction also comes an obligation to be willing to question your own perceptions.

  • You’ve got to keep yourself open to being told that you’re off course or tilting in the wrong direction.
  • You also have to recognize when you’re moving too quickly. Pacing is so important to being effective, and you can’t change things if you’re not effective.

So every Saturday morning I try to spend an hour reviewing my week – noting situations that I feel I handled well and those that I wish I had handled better. It is not uncommon for me, coming off of those reflection times, to send out an email or two or to initiate a phone call. I use them to strengthen a relationship, reset a conversation, or ask someone to explain something that I may have misunderstood.

I try to use that time to keep me open, to work against becoming rigid, pedantic and self-satisfied, which are such natural human tendencies as we get older. In my mind, self-reflection is an essential part of courageous leadership. It is something I hope our students embrace as they grow into tomorrow’s leaders.

I welcome your comments, feedback and ideas at sallyblount@kellogg.northwestern.edu

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