I was infatuated with trains when I was a child, so it’s no surprise that “The Little Engine That Could,” the classic children’s story told since 1930 and published in several book editions by Watty Piper, was one of my favorites – and one that I now love to read to my child.
Many scholars and educators have contemplated the importance of a liberal arts education, so I do not seek to presume that I am stating anything new in this month’s blog. Rather, this month I aim to reflect on my view of the importance and meaning of a liberal arts education.
This month’s blog is a little more philosophical in nature than some of my other blogs because I’m writing about miracles. Let me start off by saying that I am a firm believer in miracles. To me, a miracle does not have to be some big once-in-a-lifetime supernatural cosmic event (although those count too, I suppose). Instead, I believe that miracles can be “little things” that happen each day. Some people view daily life as though nothing is a miracle. Others view every positive thing that they experience as a miracle – even those things that are perhaps mundane. I like to think that I fall into the latter camp.
Recently, Dr. Gail Fairhurst (a friend, mentor and colleague of mine from the University of Cincinnati) visited Saint Vincent to give a guest lecture on her research. While her comments were primarily about how to be an effective leader through focusing on communication style, she also talked about the nature of problems that leaders must solve. I am reminded of some research of hers that I read in which she identifies problems as “wicked” when they are challenging to describe, difficult to solve and closely related to other problems. She and her colleagues term these to be problem “knots” because they are often tangled together in such a way that multiple problems relate to, confuse and add to each other (Sheep, Fairhurst, & Khazanchi, 2017).
I recently co-edited three books on leadership with a colleague from Poland. In them, I co-authored chapters with five students or alumni of Saint Vincent College’s Master of Science in Management: Operational Excellence program and six SVC faculty. One of the chapters, co-authored with Dr. William Hisker, was entitled “Benedictine Leadership” and was adapted from a foundational document we wrote in the development of the Benedictine Leadership Studies program at Saint Vincent. But my primary role in these editing projects (aside from writing some chapters) was to look over the works of other authors to consider for inclusion in the books.
As we approach the end of the semester, final exams week and concluding class projects, a lot of students (and likely professors) are feeling a high level of stress, which can be defined as difficulty in coping with some aspect of one’s environment. Such timeliness is one of the reasons that I decided to write about stress and balance in this month’s blog.
So many great movies are coming out this summer! As a big Star Wars and Marvel fan, I’m (of course) excited for the new Han Solo and Avengers movies. But I’m perhaps even more excited about the new Jurassic World movie. I loved the last film that came out a few years ago and am a fan of the entire Jurassic series.
In popular culture, we have been bombarded by superhero movies featuring characters such as Wonder Woman and Captain America. Yet, heroes aren’t just fictional characters and they don’t all wear capes. In fact, I was inspired to write on the topic of heroes after my band performed an opening set for some of my personal musical heroes, a 90’s-era swing band from California named Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, late in June. My band used their music as an inspiration as we fine-tuned our sound over the years. I was also inspired to write about this topic after providing a keynote presentation to the Westmoreland Human Resource Association annual conference whose theme this year was “The HR Superhero.” From this conference, I realized that the concept of “heroes” is useful in the workplace.
Many people love drama, even though some may not want to admit that fact. Drama is why some viewers are glued to reality TV, social media or celebrity gossip stories. Even though drama can be entertaining in the media, it can be disastrous if it exists in the workplace. Yet, workplace drama is so common that several blog readers asked me to address this issue here.