– Ray Feroz
Without a good relationship, our effect upon one another is nonexistent or destructive. –William Glasser
One of the things I love about working in academics is that we have a regular time-limited season (semester) and when it is over we can put the past behind us to start a new season, another semester. In this respect we are like a baseball or football or soccer team – there is a season, a break, and a new opportunity to do things differently. This may seem like no big deal, but if you have worked in a job that does not afford these fresh starts – e.g., post office, fast-food, hospitals, banks – you can deeply appreciate our situation in academia with our fresh starts and new hope.
This fall at Clarion University we have gone above and beyond the normal start-over with both a new president and interim provost! I am delighted with this fresh-start opportunity to all work together to make Clarion University a better place.
These fresh starts can enable us to change the total direction of our professional – or personal – lives in the new semester or even in the next moment. Let me suggest for your consideration one such change strategy: Look for the good and accentuate the positive. We can make a conscious effort to truly value and understand others – both the content of their communication as well as the process or feelings behind the content, to move toward mutual understanding and, as the Gestalt therapists say, participate in a shared journey. Have compassion and seek to understand deeply. Civility is the result. We are members of a community of scholars, colleagues all.
We all make mistakes – I have certainly been guilty of not always taking the time to deeply understand others. I have made assumptions and rushed to judgment. Sometimes we find ourselves in roles where an in-your-face approach is almost expected. And, sometimes we must be unyielding in our opposition to darkness. But mostly there is light out there and I can truly say that I sleep better at night when I try my best to understand deeply and work collaboratively.
The Dalai Lama said:
If you want to be good to others, have compassion. If you want to be good to yourself, have compassion.
Pause and think about these words. Notice that the secret to happiness seems to be in valuing and understanding others – being in touch with the feelings and purpose of those who populate our lives – family, friends, colleagues, students, and even strangers. If we can better understand and care for them, the upshot will be a salve for our own spirit. What a nice gift to others as we start a new academic year, and to ourselves. And the workplace – and world – will be a better place.
Ray Feroz is Professor and Chairperson of the Department of Human Services, Rehabilitation, Health and Sport Sciences at Clarion University, where he teaches courses in rehabilitation administration, human services delivery systems, and substance abuse. In 2017, he spearheaded the development of an online Opioid Treatment Specialist Certificate. He went to school at University of Pittsburgh, Boston University, and Kent State University, and is a US Army Vietnam era veteran. He has four children and eight granddaughters.