Have you ever seen a documentary on ants? Though I personally don’t want to get very close to ants, I do find their behavior fascinating.
Ants have the whole collaboration thing down. Working together they can build pretty much anything and get themselves out of some sticky situations. For instance, they use their own bodies to form bridges to get from point A to point B. And if they need to go up, they simply form a tower with their bodies so others can climb higher and higher.
Check it out:
The thing about ants is, they work together in order to survive and thrive. They don’t step all over each other so they, as individuals, can get to the top; they work together so the entire colony can get to where it needs to be.
What has happened to collaboration in higher education? Are we always working together, wanting the best for the students and our colleagues? Do we always give others the benefit of the doubt? I used to believe that everyone in this space cared about each other and that that was why they pursued positions in higher education in the first place.
But what I’m witnessing more and more, is people crawling their way to the top, leaving a lot of carnage along the journey. What has this climb become about? Titles? Status? Salary? One-upping?
This awareness has caused me to reflect on my own journey? Have I always been honest in my climb? What am I personally climbing towards and who have I hurt in the process?
Have I lost any of my integrity, or compromised any of my values along the way? And do I still recognize myself when I look in the mirror?
These are questions I ask myself all the time. I ask my friends, I ask my wife and I ask my mentors. Have I changed? Have I hurt people on my journey? Even if months or years have passed, I still want to reach out and apologize to anyone I have stepped on in my climb.
See, my ultimate goal is to be my best self in serving the students, offering true leadership to my teams and providing intentional supervision. I want to collaborate with colleagues for a common good. I want all of us to care more about the students than the climb. That’s what feeds my soul and motivates me in doing my best work.
It’s been 19 years and yes, I have worked hard to get the credentials, the experience, and the salary. But I am committed to reminding myself every day why I have made the climb. I will continue to stretch, grow, and challenge myself in order to make a positive difference in others’ lives.