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2010 -- The commencement

It takes a lot of courage to release the familiar and seemingly secure, to embrace the new. But there is no real security in what is no longer meaningful. There is more security in the adventurous and exciting, for in movement there is life, and in change there is power.     ~~Alan Cohen

So I came across this quote and it embraces the mentality I have been trying to put into words for some time.  Too many folks in Higher Education, America and the movement of the 'Yes we can' plagiarists  to name a few are lulling others into believing power is found in not changing.  Yes, there is absolutely something about finding something that is absolute perfection, but anything short of it requires even the most devout religious person, scientific person or any other ordinary or radical purist to pursue that perfection unfailingly until it is achieved.  (Right about now my wife is saying, but Shane you love consistency like the best of them).

I live in a world of process management and trying to achieve better efficiencies with the tools that are offered an organization.  I try to take what is there and find ways to make it better.  This often times requires deep reflection vis-a-vis the business processes affected and analyzing them to review if the current practice is the best.  I find many times that the business process analysis has a) never been done and receive looks of 'what the crap is a BPA Shane' or a blank dull stare of uh-huhs b) this is the way it has always done which reminds me of the "The Generational Baked Ham Story" or c) but Shane you're not suggesting changing a process that was put into place by "insert favorite title of favorite exec here" etc.  I think this is why I find my job so very appealing and frustrating all at the same time.  Oft times business processes and logic is created and followed without anyone ever questioning "this is good, but can it be better" like 3M or others.  Sometimes the conclusion is, yes it is the best, most practically achieved way to do something (believe me this happens from time to time, but isn't the most common discovery) and with it learning the intricacies and wisdom of fore-runners is quite a pleasurable discovery.  What is discouraging is when people hide behind the title, or the past or anything else in an effort to maintain the status quo or not being willing to try to discover something better.

This is where I am not comfortable with life in general.  I am often found saying that 'if you aren't falling, you aren't trying hard enough'.  I remember hearing an old great uncle of mine while Dean of Physics at a prominent private university state that he would never hire straight A students when hiring on his projects.  He would say that too often when presented with failure, these students didn't have coping mechanisms to carry them through until they either discovered success or determined that a certain process failed.  Instead he would rather a 'C' or 'D' student because he was able to have these students accept failure and continue through the process until the ultimate outcome was achieved.  This always perplexed me while I was a student and whilst I was avoiding life while snowboarding too often and working odd jobs and stopping out from my education.  After finishing my degree and entering the work force, I am understanding his philosophy more and more.  I often think that many people desire to achieve more, but they are too often suppressed by the status quo to believe they are worth more or they have never been expected to achieve more than monotony in their work responsibilities.

Back to Higher Education.  I left an environment at Utah State University that embraced my ideology even though in the moment I was too blind to understand this.  I was lured to the Ivory Tower only to be further disappointed that by living my ideology I was at risk of being destroyed because I wouldn't shackle myself to the way it has always been done mentality and to wait my turn.  I struggle with those in Higher Education that believe a degree defines someone.  Yes, it is extremely important to achieve a certain level of education, but if that discipline makes you blind to the ability of using the concept of transference and persist in using that intelligence in cross disciplines that degree isn't worth much more than the paper it is printed on.  That being said, institutional or real world wisdom and experience through trial and error is often just as important as learning theoretical and practical applications via channels of education.

Anyway, I am interested to see what successes and failures I have in 2010.  I like to use the term "potential strength" for weakness and "potential learning opportunity" for failure.  My wife mentioned in passing that I should write a book, but I imagine I would offend most of my audience along the way.  I suspect I will be frustrated as normal while at work, especially while I am in the farm leagues after being used to being in the lights and in the majors.  There are things that are more important like strengthening my family at this time and being on 'cruise control' while at work is so that I may do just that.  In the next few weeks I am to assist 'leaping' to the next point release of the SiS (Student information system) we use at the university, something I have already done at another university, but gleaning the trust of a good old boy network and those that protect others to save their own proverbial ass along the way has been a burden.  In short, it will be an interesting year professionally.  It should be a great year as a family and hopefully Liz, Dennis and I will be able to welcome another little one into our family as we try to grow it.  We hope in July that we will have a new home so that we may be happier and distance ourselves from this poor rickety old shack that is our current residence.  Anyway...more to come later...another splendidly bland observation from Shane!

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